Types of Gin: London Dry, Old Tom, Plymouth & More

Types of Gin – London Dry, Old Tom, Plymouth & More

Gin is a versatile spirit that comes in various types and styles, each with its own unique characteristics and flavors. Whether you’re a gin connoisseur or just starting your journey into the world of gin, it’s helpful to understand the different types available to you. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular gin varieties, including London Dry, Old Tom, and Plymouth gin. We’ll delve into their distinct flavor profiles, traditional gin styles, and explore the world of gin cocktails. So grab your favorite gin and join us as we uncover the fascinating world of gin!

Key Takeaways:

  • London Dry, Old Tom, and Plymouth gin are among the most popular types of gin.
  • London Dry gin is known for its juniper-forward flavor and is widely used in classic gin cocktails like the Gin and Tonic and Martini.
  • Old Tom gin is a slightly sweetened style that originated in the 19th century and is experiencing a revival in the cocktail industry.
  • Plymouth gin has a softer and more subtle flavor compared to London Dry gin and can only be produced by the Plymouth Gin Distillery in Plymouth, England.
  • Gin is a versatile spirit that can be enjoyed in a wide range of cocktails, from the classic Gin and Tonic to the sophisticated Martini.

London Dry Gin

London Dry gin is the most well-known and widely consumed type of gin. It was originally created in England but is now produced all over the world. London Dry gin is characterized by its crisp and clean flavor profile, with dominant notes of juniper. It is commonly used in popular gin-based cocktails such as the Gin and Tonic and Martini. Some popular London Dry gin brands include Beefeater, Tanqueray, and Bombay Sapphire.

London Dry Gin Brands:

Brand Country of Origin Flavor Profile
Beefeater England Classic juniper-forward flavor with hints of citrus and spice
Tanqueray England Smooth and well-balanced, with prominent juniper and citrus notes
Bombay Sapphire England Refreshing and vibrant, with a botanical blend that includes juniper, citrus, and spices

London Dry gin is the perfect choice for those who enjoy a classic and traditional gin flavor. Its versatility in cocktails makes it a staple in bars and home mixology. Whether you prefer a refreshing Gin and Tonic or a sophisticated Martini, London Dry gin provides a reliable and consistent base for your favorite gin cocktails. Experiment with different brands and enjoy the distinct flavors and nuances that London Dry gin has to offer.

Old Tom Gin

Old Tom gin is a fascinating and historical style of gin that has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. It has a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other types of gin, making it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts. The history of Old Tom gin dates back to the 18th century when it was commonly consumed in England.

This style of gin is characterized by its slightly sweetened taste, which comes from the addition of sugar or licorice root during the distillation process. The sweetness provides a pleasant balance to the botanical flavors, creating a complex and well-rounded spirit. Old Tom gin can be enjoyed neat or used as an ingredient in classic gin cocktails.

Speaking of cocktails, there are several popular drinks that showcase the distinct flavors of Old Tom gin. One example is the Martinez, a classic cocktail made with Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. Another famous cocktail is the Tom Collins, which combines Old Tom gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water. These cocktails highlight the versatility and unique characteristics of this historical gin variety.

Plymouth Gin: A Taste of England

Plymouth Gin is a classic English gin that has a rich history and a distinct flavor profile. Produced exclusively by the Plymouth Gin Distillery in Plymouth, England, this gin offers a taste that is softer and more subtle compared to its London Dry counterpart.

The Plymouth Gin Distillery

The Plymouth Gin Distillery, established in 1793, is the only distillery in the world authorized to produce Plymouth Gin. This designation ensures that every bottle of Plymouth Gin is made with the same care and attention to detail that has been passed down through generations. The distillery follows a specific production process and adheres to strict regulations to maintain the authenticity and quality of this iconic gin.

Plymouth Gin is crafted using a blend of botanicals, with juniper berries taking center stage. However, unlike London Dry gin, Plymouth gin also incorporates earthy and tart citrus notes, creating a more complex and well-rounded flavor profile. This makes it a versatile choice that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a variety of cocktails.

“Plymouth Gin stands out for its unique blend of botanicals and its smooth, refined taste. It captures the essence of traditional English gin while adding its own distinctive character.” – Gin Expert

Plymouth Gin Flavor Profile

Plymouth Gin is known for its slightly sweeter taste and subtle flavors. The prominent notes of juniper are complemented by hints of coriander, angelica, and citrus peel. The result is a gin that is smooth, balanced, and full of character.

When enjoying Plymouth Gin, you can expect a spirit that is well-suited for sipping or mixing. Its unique flavor profile lends itself perfectly to classic cocktails such as the Negroni or the Tom Collins. Whether you prefer a refreshing gin and tonic or a sophisticated martini, Plymouth Gin offers a taste of England that is sure to delight gin enthusiasts around the world.

Table: A Comparison of London Dry, Old Tom, and Plymouth Gin

Gin Type Flavor Profile Production Regulations
London Dry Gin Dominant juniper flavor with a crisp and clean profile No specific geographical restrictions
Old Tom Gin Slightly sweetened with a wide range of flavor profiles No specific geographical restrictions
Plymouth Gin Softer and more subtle with juniper and earthy citrus notes Exclusive production by the Plymouth Gin Distillery in Plymouth, England

NOTE: This table provides a brief comparison of the flavor profiles and production regulations of London Dry, Old Tom, and Plymouth Gin. Each gin type has its unique characteristics and can be enjoyed in various cocktails.

Other Gin Varieties

In addition to the well-known London Dry, Old Tom, and Plymouth gin, there are other exciting varieties of gin that offer unique flavor profiles and experiences. These gin varieties cater to different tastes and preferences, making the world of gin even more diverse and fascinating.

New American Gin

New American Gin is a category of gin that showcases the creativity and innovation of modern craft distillers. Distillers in this category experiment with unusual botanicals and flavor combinations, resulting in gins that challenge traditional expectations. New American Gins often feature vibrant and unconventional flavors, making them a favorite among gin enthusiasts looking for something new and different.

Sloe Gin

Sloe Gin is a distinct type of gin that is infused with sloe berries, a small fruit related to plums. This variety of gin is known for its rich, fruity flavor and slightly sweet taste. Sloe Gin is often enjoyed on its own or used as a base for cocktails. Its unique flavor profile makes it a popular choice for those seeking a sweeter gin experience.

Navy Strength Gin

Navy Strength Gin is an overproof gin with a higher alcohol content, typically 57-58% ABV (alcohol by volume). It is called “Navy Strength” because it originated in the British Royal Navy, where gin had to be of a certain strength to ensure it still ignited gunpowder. This gin variety packs a punch and is favored by mixologists for its bold flavors and ability to stand out in cocktails.


Genever is a traditional Dutch gin that is considered the ancestor of modern gin. It is made from a malted grain spirit and flavored with botanicals similar to gin. Genever has a distinct flavor profile that includes a malty, grainy taste with hints of juniper and spices. This variety of gin is often enjoyed neat or used in classic cocktails with a historical touch.

Explore the diverse offerings of these other gin varieties and discover new flavors and experiences to elevate your gin-drinking journey.

Type of Gin Main Characteristics Popular Brands
New American Gin Unconventional flavors and botanical combinations Barr Hill, St. George, Aviation
Sloe Gin Rich, fruity flavor with a hint of sweetness Plymouth, Hayman’s, Sloemotion
Navy Strength Gin Higher alcohol content for bold flavors Gunpowder, Four Pillars, Dorothy Parker
Genever Malty, grainy taste with juniper and spice notes Bols, Filliers, Rutte

Botanicals in Gin

Gin is a spirit that derives its distinctive flavor from a variety of botanicals. These botanicals are carefully selected and combined during the distillation process to create the unique taste profiles of different gin varieties. While juniper berries are the key botanical in gin, there are several other commonly used botanicals that contribute to its complex flavor.

The Key Botanicals

  • Juniper berries: Juniper berries are the star of the show when it comes to gin. They give gin its signature piney, resinous flavor and are responsible for the classic juniper-forward taste.
  • Coriander: Coriander seeds add a bright, citrusy note to gin. They provide a subtle sweetness and balance the strong flavor of juniper.
  • Orris root: Orris root, derived from the iris plant, has a floral and powdery aroma. It acts as a natural fixative, helping to bind the flavors together and add depth to the gin.
  • Angelica: Angelica root lends earthy and herbal notes to gin. It is often used in combination with other botanicals to enhance their flavors.
  • Citrus peel: Various citrus peels, such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit, are common botanicals in gin. They add bright, zesty flavors and contribute to the overall aromatic profile of the spirit.

These botanicals, along with others that may be added by distillers, create the diverse range of flavors found in different gin varieties. From the crisp, clean taste of London Dry gin to the slightly sweet and herbal notes of Old Tom gin, the botanicals play a vital role in defining the character of each gin style.

“The combination of juniper, coriander, orris root, angelica, and citrus peel creates a harmonious symphony of flavors in gin.”

Next time you enjoy a gin cocktail, take a moment to appreciate the botanicals that contribute to its delightful taste.

Gin Type Key Botanicals
London Dry Gin Juniper berries, coriander, angelica, citrus peel
Old Tom Gin Juniper berries, coriander, angelica, citrus peel, licorice root
Plymouth Gin Juniper berries, coriander, angelica, citrus peel, cardamom
New American Gin Botanicals can vary widely, including non-traditional flavorings such as cucumber, rose petals, and lavender

The Role of Botanicals in Gin Production

Botanicals play a crucial role in the production of gin, contributing to its unique flavor and aroma. During the distillation process, a carefully selected combination of botanicals is infused into neutral grain spirits. The choice and combination of botanicals can vary, resulting in different flavor profiles and gin styles.

The distillation process starts with steeping the botanicals, which include juniper berries, herbs, roots, and citrus peels, in the neutral grain spirits. This infusion allows the flavors and aromas of the botanicals to infuse into the spirits. The infusion is then redistilled, creating the base of the gin.

The addition of botanicals during distillation is what gives gin its distinct character. Juniper berries, in particular, are essential in creating the classic juniper-forward flavor that defines gin. Other botanicals like coriander, orris root, angelica, and citrus peel contribute their own unique flavors, resulting in a wide range of gin varieties and flavor profiles.

While traditional gin styles like London Dry are made without added flavors or sweeteners, some gins may include them to enhance certain characteristics or create unique flavor combinations. However, the true essence of gin lies in the botanicals and their natural flavors, making it a spirit beloved by gin enthusiasts and mixologists alike.

Distillation Process and Redistillation

“The distillation process is crucial in gin production. It involves steeping botanicals in neutral grain spirits and then redistilling the infusion. This careful balance of flavors and aromas is what creates the distinct character of each gin variety.” – Gin Expert

During distillation, the botanical infusion is heated and vaporized, with the alcohol and botanical compounds passing through a condenser to be collected as gin. The process of redistillation allows for refinement and removal of impurities, resulting in a smooth and flavorful spirit. The skill and expertise of the distiller play a significant role in ensuring the quality and consistency of the final product.

Added Flavors and Sweeteners

“While traditional gin styles are made without added flavors or sweeteners, some modern gins may include them to create unique taste profiles. However, purists believe that the true essence of gin lies in the natural flavors of the botanicals.” – Gin Enthusiast

Some gin producers may choose to add additional flavors or sweeteners to their products, allowing for experimentation and the creation of new taste experiences. However, these additions should complement and enhance the botanical flavors rather than overpower them. Purists often prefer classic gin styles made without added flavors or sweeteners, appreciating the authenticity and purity of the botanical-infused spirit.

Botanical Role in Gin Production
Juniper Berries Provides the dominant flavor and aroma of gin.
Coriander Contributes citrus and spicy notes to the gin.
Orris Root Acts as a natural fixative, helping to bind the flavors together.
Angelica Brings earthy and herbal undertones to the gin.
Citrus Peel Imparts bright and refreshing citrus flavors.

The Versatility of Gin in Cocktails

Gin is a versatile spirit that lends itself well to a wide variety of cocktails. Whether you prefer classic recipes or more creative concoctions, there is a gin cocktail to suit every taste. Here are a few popular gin-based cocktails to enjoy:

Gin and Tonic

The Gin and Tonic is a timeless classic. It combines gin with tonic water and is typically garnished with a slice of lime or lemon. This refreshing drink is perfect for those who enjoy the crisp and botanical flavors of gin.


The Martini is an iconic cocktail that has become synonymous with sophistication. Made with gin and dry vermouth, it can be garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon. The Martini is known for its elegant simplicity and is a favorite among gin enthusiasts.


The Negroni is a bold and bitter cocktail that features equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It is garnished with an orange peel and is famous for its strong and distinctive flavor profile. If you enjoy complex and robust cocktails, the Negroni is a must-try.

Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is a classic gin cocktail that is both refreshing and easy to make. It combines gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. This fizzy and citrusy drink is perfect for summer evenings or any occasion that calls for a light and zesty cocktail.

These are just a few examples of the many gin cocktails that you can create. Whether you prefer a traditional recipe or want to get creative with your own variations, gin offers a world of possibilities for cocktail enthusiasts. Explore different flavors and techniques to discover your favorite gin cocktail.


In conclusion, gin is a versatile and popular spirit that offers a variety of types and flavors for cocktail enthusiasts to explore. London Dry, Old Tom, and Plymouth gin are among the most well-known and widely consumed varieties. London Dry gin, with its crisp and juniper-forward flavor, is perfect for classic cocktails like the Gin and Tonic or Martini.

When it comes to gin brands, Beefeater, Tanqueray, and Bombay Sapphire are highly regarded for their quality and distinct flavors. These popular brands have been enjoyed by gin enthusiasts worldwide for their commitment to producing exceptional spirits.

Whether you prefer a refreshing and citrusy cocktail like the Tom Collins or a more complex and bitter concoction like the Negroni, gin provides a versatile base for creating a wide range of cocktails. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and ingredients to create your own signature gin cocktails.

So, grab a bottle of your favorite gin, mix up a classic cocktail, or get creative with your own recipe. Cheers to the world of gin and the endless possibilities it brings!


What is gin made from?

Gin is made from neutral grain spirits and flavored with botanicals such as juniper, dried herbs, roots, and citrus peels.

What is the difference between gin and vodka?

Gin has a dominant flavor of juniper, while vodka does not. Gin is also flavored with botanicals, giving it a distinct taste.

What are the different types of gin?

There are various types of gin, including London Dry, Old Tom, Plymouth, New American, Sloe, Navy Strength, and Genever.

What is London Dry gin known for?

London Dry gin is known for its juniper-forward flavor and is commonly used in popular gin-based cocktails.

Where is Plymouth gin produced?

Plymouth gin is produced in Plymouth, England, and can only be made by the Plymouth Gin Distillery.

What are some popular gin brands?

Popular gin brands include Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Hayman’s, and Ransom.

What botanicals are commonly used in gin?

Juniper berries, coriander, orris root, angelica, and citrus peel are commonly used botanicals in gin production.

How is gin made?

During the distillation process, botanicals are steeped in neutral grain spirits and then redistilled to create gin.

What cocktails can I make with gin?

Popular gin cocktails include the Gin and Tonic, Martini, Negroni, and Tom Collins.

What makes gin versatile?

The diverse flavor profile of gin makes it a popular choice for mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts.

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