London Dry Gin vs. American Gin: How They Differ and When to Use Them

Gin tonic served in glass garnished with lemon and rosemary

Once reserved only for martinis, gin has seen an uptick recently, becoming more and more popular amongst consumers. The market today reflects that, consisting of multiple varieties that offer a full spectrum of flavors. Of the various gin styles available, two seem to stand out: London dry gin and American gin. Columbia Distributing is a premier distributor of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages in Oregon and Washington. Here, we compare these two gin styles and offer insight into when to use them for different cocktails.

What Is London Dry Gin?

When most people think of gin, chances are they are thinking of London dry gin. While this style was created in London, it doesn’t have to be made there to be categorized as such. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be produced in England or the United Kingdom. Rather, in today’s market, the term “London dry gin” refers to the method of production that was made famous centuries ago.

Gin is made with juniper and distilled with a base spirit, along with a collection of other botanicals selected by the distiller. Because of how they are made, London dry gins feature a juniper-forward flavor profile that is often accompanied by hints of citrus, herb, fruit, and spice tones, depending on the brand.

For a gin to be recognized as London dry, it must be created to certain specifications that include:

  • The neutral base spirit must be distilled to at least 96% ABV.
  • All botanicals that are added must be natural and cannot be synthetic or artificial.
  • All botanicals must be added during the distillation process.
  • Only water and a very tiny amount of sweetener are allowed to be added post-distillation.

What Is American Gin?

The most obvious way American gin differs from London dry is that the juniper is dialed down substantially. While there is still juniper in it, American gin gives indulgers a break from that piney and at times overbearing taste that traditional gins are known for. Because American gin isn’t as juniper-forward, other botanicals can be highlighted. This includes those that are traditional to gin, such as citrus peels, coriander, cardamom, and angelica, as well as a wide range of more unique and inventive botanicals.

Gin Cocktails: What Style Should You Use?

Given their very different approaches, London dry gin and American gin create noticeably different-tasting cocktails. This means the style of gin you choose to use can drastically change the outcome of a drink. Ultimately, the style that should be used is based on the consumer’s personal preferences. If you are someone who enjoys the traditional taste of gin, using London dry is your best bet for mixing drinks. However, if you are someone who prefers other flavors beyond the piney taste of the juniper in traditional gin, then American gin might be worth trying.

Learn More About Different Gin Styles from Columbia Distributing

When it comes to gin, knowing and understanding the differences in style can be important in terms of the satisfaction of your customers. At Columbia Distributing, we’re proud to offer gin products from a wide variety of reputable brands. We serve bars, restaurants, retail stores, and other establishments throughout the Pacific Northwest. Our selection of gin features various styles to select from, including London dry gin and American gin. Contact us today for more information about our gin selection and inventory of other alcoholic drinks.