Despite it being called London Dry Gin, a lot of it doesn’t actually come from the capital – only about a handful of it does. Gin doesn’t have the same geographical restrictions as spirits such as cognac, scotch or tequila do when they can only be made in certain places. There are, however, 13 gins that have a ‘geographical indication’. The most famous of these is Plymouth Gin, which has been made in Plymouth, England since 1793.
The burning question: why can it be called London Dry Gin when it’s not from the Big Smoke? For a gin to be able to call itself that, the base spirit must be distilled to a completely neutral spirit of 96% alcoholic volume, and all of the flavours must be added through the distillation and be natural plant materials, so nothing synthetic can be added. Also, it can have nothing added after distillation except for water and a tiny amount of sugar. To be a little flashy with facts, back in the day, London Dry Gin specifications were to guarantee of quality of the spirit and to ensure the gin you were drinking didn’t have methanol in it. That’s not so much of an issue nowadays, though.
The most heard-of production method for gin is to distill the natural botanicals – such as juniper, coriander, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond or liquorice – with neutral grain alcohol. Making gin is like flavouring vodka, just a little more natural. This means that any flavours or botanicals added after final distillation disqualifies a gin from being called a London Dry Gin. The rules are pretty strict!
So there we have it – London Dry Gin is merely a process and has zero to do with the flavour or where it comes from.