What Makes a Gin a London Dry Gin?

During the first half of the 18th Century, a craze swept over Britain. The Government passed a range of legislations, aiming to restrict brandy imports from France and encourage the production of homebrewed gin. One of the most famous of these spirits created became known as the ‘London Dry Gin’… but what exactly makes it a London Dry?

The Gin Act of 1751

Back during the Gin Craze, many distillers sweetened their Gin to make it taste better. They added questionable (and dangerous) ingredients such as turpentine, sawdust and even sulphuric acid, so they needed the sickly, sweetness of the sugar to mask the taste. Without any regulations, Britain spent a good period of time drinking gin like it was water. Crime became a huge problem, and the government struggled to keep the population under control. The solution was to impose a Distiller’s Licence, under the Gin Act of 1751, which saw the price of gin production skyrocket. Many smaller gin workshops had to close down as they couldn’t afford this new licence and with fewer distillers crafting the spirit, better and more secure regulations for crafting gin came into play.

So What is a London Dry Gin?

The primary ingredient in any gin is Juniper Berries. They are native to the UK, so easily obtainable. Gin also contains angelica, citrus, and other various botanicals.

 The distinguishing characteristics of the London Dry is that it uses no artificial colourings, no sweeteners - or at the very least, no more than 0.1g of sugar per litre - and it enhances the natural flavours already present in the spirit. It must also be at least 37.5% above ABV, which is the alcohol percentage. Because the impurities and dangers of sawdust and turpentine were no longer added to the gin, there was no need for sugars to mask the taste. Hence why it’s called ‘dry’ gin; it is all natural botanical flavourings. If it’s piney in taste, it’s likely a London Dry. Whereas the London Dry was born in London, it’s now made all over the world.

A Global Sensation, Founded in Britain

The London Dry Gin is one of the most well known gins of all time, usually served as a classic Gin & Tonic or Martini, and enjoyed by millions globally. Some of the most popular London Dry brands from the UK you’ll come across include ​​Tanqueray, Gordons and at our own Cardiff Distillery, we have Jin Caerdydd. 

When drinking a London Dry, it’s always better to go for tonics over flavoured carbonated drinks, as they tend to cancel the flavours out. If you really want to experience the full taste of the natural, botanical flavours, try drinking it neat!