I don't mean brands, we could be here all day figuring out that list... I literally mean how many types of gin are there? I know there's dry (London) gin, and sloe gin, but are there any more? Why's dry gin different to just plain gin? Can a gin be two types at the same time? What makes a gin liqueur? Could someone also explain why they are different - is it due to the distilling process, or is it to do with the ingredients added etc.
Before going to the various types of gin, I feel it necessary to define a few terms and for simplification I am going to use Wikipedia.
What is gin?
Gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From its earliest origins in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved from use in herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Gin was developed on the basis of the older jenever, and became popular in Great Britain (particularly in London) when William of Orange, leader of the Dutch Republic, occupied the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones with his wife Mary. Gin is one of the broadest categories of spirits, represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavour profiles that all revolve around juniper as a common ingredient.
What is a liqueur?
A liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit that has been flavored with fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers or nuts and bottled with added sugar or other sweetener (such as high-fructose corn syrup). Liqueurs are typically quite sweet; they are usually not aged for long after the ingredients are mixed, but may have resting periods during their production to allow flavors to marry.
What is a liquor?
A distilled beverage, spirit, liquor, hard liquor or hard alcohol is an alcoholic beverage produced by distillation of grains, fruit, or vegetables that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. The distillation process purifies the liquid and removes diluting components like water, for the purpose of increasing its proportion of alcohol content (commonly expressed as alcohol by volume, ABV).1 As distilled beverages contain more alcohol, they are considered "harder" – in North America, the term hard liquor is used to distinguish distilled beverages from undistilled ones.
On the web one can see that there generally five types of gin. However Canada and the USA recognize only 3 types of gin (Genever, Gin, London or Dry gin), while the European Union recognizes 4 types (Juniper-flavoured spirit drinks, Gin, Distilled gin and London gin).
Here are the different types of gins that can be found around the world and what makes them a certain style of gin.
London Dry Gin is what most people think of as “gin.” They are typically very dry, heavily juniper flavored, light in body, and aromatic. To get the flowery, botanical flavor, this style of gin is typically infused with various aromatic ingredients during the 2nd or 3rd distillation process, giving each brand its own unique taste. London dry gin doesn’t have to be made in London and most aren’t. If you’re at the store, common brands include Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, and Beefeater. This style is great for classic martinis, gin and tonics, and Aviation cocktails.
Plymouth Gin is a less dry cousin to London Dry Gin that must be made in Plymouth, England. Infused with more roots, this style of gin has an earthier flavor with softer juniper notes than other styles. Currently, there is only one brand of Plymouth gin produced in the world and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s called Plymouth. It can be used anywhere a London Dry Gin is used.
Genever or Dutch gin is very different in color and taste to the other types of gins. Unlike most gins which are made with a combination of cereal grains, genever is made from a base of malt grains which gives it a darker color and flavor that is more similar to a light-bodied, botanical whiskey. Recently, genever has been revived by craft mixologists who are using it creatively in cocktails, but it is just as good for sipping straight or chilled. The most commonly available brand is Bols Genever.
Old Tom Gin is a sweeter cousin to London Dry Gin and is appropriately names as it was the preferred gin in a Tom Collins. It’s often thought of as somewhere in between a London Dry Gin and Genever. It can be difficult to find but look for the Hayman’s brand. Old Tom Gin is most famously used in the Tom Collins and Martinez cocktails but is also delicious in a Ramos Gin Fizz.
New American or International Style Gin is an umbrella term used to refer to all of the new styles of gin that use the same base distilling process but are predominantly infused with flavors other than juniper berries. The most common one you might be familiar with is Hendrick’s, flavored with cucumber and rose. - The 4 (and Maybe 5) Types of Gin
A sixth type of gin is the Sloe Gin and is considered by some to be a liqueur and not a liquor because of the amount of sugar added to it.
Sloe Gin: A historic style, with neither legal nor geographic protection, sloe gin is a flavored gin, using sloe, or blackthorn, berries, along with sugar. Sloe gin is more of a fruit cordial or a liqueur than it is a true gin, and in fact, some bottom-shelf sloe gins are made not with gin at all but with vodka. - The Serious Eats Guide to Gin
More information can be found at the following: