While many people think that the description London Dry Gin or more simply put, London Gin means that the delicious beverage they’re drinking made its way in to their glass from the city of London – in almost all cases, that’s not actually true (precious few gin distilleries are still within the London city limits). In fact, London Dry Gin is a set of rules, codified in January of 2008 in Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council. The legislation is like most others – long winded and drafty – but one of the reasons it was put in place was to ensure a minimum quality for anything calling itself “London Dry Gin”.
A London Dry Gin must also be:
- distilled with natural botanicals in the still (no fakes and definitely no cheeky adding flavours afterwards!);
- boozy (minimum of 37.5% ABV);
- clear (only water can be added);
- dry (almost no additional sweetening)
Even gins from distilleries in non-European Union countries that want to call themselves a London Dry Gin must adhere to these rules, which is why some of the more flavoursome and interesting gins refer to themselves as things like ‘Handcrafted Gin’. An example of a gin that isn’t a London Dry Gin is Hendrick’s Gin, as two of the flavours (Rose Petal and Cucumber) are added after distillation. Legally, Hendrick’s can only refer to itself as a Distilled Gin.
Here’s the actual wording of the legislation that relates to London Dry Gin, in case you wanted to put yourself to sleep:
22. London gin
- London gin is a type of distilled gin:
- obtained exclusively from ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin, with a maximum methanol content of 5 grams per hectolitre of 100 % vol. alcohol, whose flavour is introduced exclusively through the re-distillation in traditional stills of ethyl alcohol in the presence of all the natural plant materials used,
- the resultant distillate of which contains at least 70 % alcohol by vol.,
- where any further ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin is added it must be consistent with the characteristics listed in Annex I(1), but with a maximum methanol content of 5 grams per hectolitre of 100 % vol. alcohol,
- which does not contain added sweetening exceeding 0,1 gram of sugars per litre of the final product nor colorants,
- which does not contain any other added ingredients other than water.
- The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of London gin shall be 37,5 %.
- The term London gin may be supplemented by the term ‘dry’.
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