Gin, Distilled

One of the many books that I got for Christmas was Gin, Distilled, a book focussing on modern gin. Rather than being a longwinded history of gin and how it changed from Dutch courage to something that miserable housewives drank while doing the washing up, and then transmogrified into a post spirit again, it focusses much more on modern gin, and how to drink it.

There are a few snippets of trivia or history (for example, I didn’t know that per capita, the largest gin-consuming nation is the Philippines, and this is something that possibly goes under the radar because the Filipinos drink all the Filipino-made gin (more than a litre per capita per year) so there’s none of it that gets out for other people to find out about.

Otherwise, there’s a lot on the right way to drink gin (neat first, then with a splash of water, and then with tonic), a discussion of how to describe what you’re tasting, and various different recommendations about how to pair gins and tonics and gins and other things.

(Another bit of trivia: the Tom Collins is named for a hoax, where you’d tell a friend he was being badmouthed at a bar by the eponymous Tom Collins. He’d go to the bar and ask for Tom, and get a drink rather than a punch-up. Oh, the frivolities of the 19th century…)

At times it can be a little didactic, but there’s enough to understand about why different gins taste different, and indeed why you shouldn’t just go for the tonic straight away. I was also pleased to have some of my tastes confirmed, as some of my favourite gins (St George Terroir, for one, whose pine-infused floral notes I mistook for something much more, well, floral than pine, along with a Shiraz infused gin that’s on my kitchen counter right now). So definitely a book to be returning to over the course of the year.

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