London Dry gin doesn’t actually need to be made in London… or in England… or even in the UK! The term London Dry was devised to protect a little bit of history.
In the 16th century, the Dutch started producing a spirit from malt wine, known as ‘genever’ It was very harsh so a large amount of juniper berries and sweeteners were added to mask this unpalatable taste. Over time this spirit became known gin (rumours suggest that us Brits were too drunk to pronounce genever, shortening it to gen then gin)
In 1689, William of Orange, a Dutchman, became the King of England, Scotland and Ireland. In an attempt to crush the French economy, he enforced blockades and heavy taxes on French wine and cognac. At the same time, the monopoly of the London Guild of Distillers was broken. Combine this with growing gin popularity amongst politicians (and even Queen Anne) gin production was actively encouraged by the government, by relaxing taxes and the lack of licencing. At this time, a pint of gin was cheaper than a pint of beer in London and so the gin craze began!
A few years later gin distillation was a free for all in London, and society was descending. With nasties like turpentine, sulphuric acid and sawdust going into the drink, with the taste disguised by sugar and sweet ingredients. Gin was becoming the most heavily vilified spirit and was blamed for thousands of deaths from murder, overconsumption, negligence and insanity.
The government stepped in, and as a result, gin production became very tightly regulated. With strict licencing laws and hefty fines for breaching them, only a handful of distilleries were producing gin. The introduction of a new style of still, the Coffey still, enabled a more refined distillation process. This newer class of gin was higher quality and didn’t need sweetened to hide the harshness allowing the juniper to shine through. Thus, London Dry gin was born.
Today London Dry gin is still tightly regulated. To enable a gin to qualify as a London Dry gin, it must be at least 37.5% ABV, juniper must be the overriding flavour and only water can be added to the gin once it comes of the still. No sweeteners, colours or flavours, just water!
Should gin still be called London Dry gin, even if it’s made in Scotland? We think so. It’s a nod to the past, the history of gin and recognition of the trials and tribulations this spirit went through to become one of the most popular drinks today.
So, Granite North is proud to be both a London Dry and a Scottish gin. Our gin is 100% distilled, bottled and based in Scotland adding only the purest Cairngorm water added after it’s distilled.