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Gin: A Fresh Look on an Old Favourite

Gin: A Fresh Look on an Old Favourite

Lisa Zanardo | Times Onlines

Across from me sits Tom Nichol, distiller of Gordon’s Gin, and one of only four people in the world to hold the secret recipe to one of England’s oldest spirits.

Next to him sits Tom Soden, head barman at Geo Bar in central London. Both are extolling the virtues of gin, but from completely different angles.

According to Nichol, the only way to drink gin is the traditional way, with tonic water and a slice of lime. “It’s got to be lime. Limes take the bitterness away. I’m not happy if I get a wedge of lemon in my gin,” he said.

Meanwhile, Soden is telling me that gin is making a comeback, overtaking vodka sales, and that its potential goes way beyond the traditional gin and tonic.

“Gin has had a resurgence. New-school gins have added spice into the market pushing vodka out somewhat,” he said.

“But gin deserves to be mixed with more than just tonic,” he says. “The perception of gin is that it tastes like what it looks like, cold and bland, but add a little juice to it and suddenly it’s a solid color and it has a more summery feel.”

They may hold differing views on how gin should be drunk, but one thing the pair do have in common is enthusiasm for this centuries-old spirit.

Nichol’s passion for gin is obvious. His eyes seem to come alive as he explains the ingredients that have brought Gordon’s Gin unchanged and unflagging from the 1700s into the noughties.

Apparently it was in 1769 that Alexander Gordon established his distillery, where he developed gin from the then abundant juniper berry.

Unfortunately, Nichol says, the initial batches were way too sweet and far from palatable, but, Gordon persevered with improving the taste. Eventually he discovered that by extracting the sugars and adding a set level of coriander, angelica and a secret ingredient, which remains undivulged, you could achieve a nice gin minus the sweetness.

Despite much cajoling, Nichol is not prepared to let slip the secret ingredient. Instead he argues that even if one did know, it’s not so much the ingredients as the quantities at which they are mixed that holds the secret to its distinct taste.