The Rise of Gin Liqueurs
Gin liqueurs are gaining popularity across the UK. We help you understand the difference between a Gin and Gin Liqueur and take a look at some of our most popular.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Gin liqueurs are drinks made from distilled gin spirits but with added ingredients and flavour infusion layered on top, often making them sweeter. For gin, they are classed as liqueurs if under 37.5% ABV and usually range from 15% to 30%. To be classed as a Gin, ABV has to be 37.5% or above and so anything below this must state liqueur on the bottle. There are exceptions to this rule in the wider world of liqueurs (such as France's famed orange liqueurs) with some spirits going up to 55% ABV, but gin liqueurs generally follow the former rules. Despite their lower alcohol level, their are many advantages to gin liqueurs.
The biggest is taste. Those of us with a sweet tooth can often find a strong spirit overwhelming, even when mixed. Liqueurs give the opportunity for producers to really intensify intended flavour and the lower levels of alcohol can help the consumer avoid drinking too much and suffering the morning after! This also makes liqueurs a popular choice for cocktail bases, or for adding to sparkling white wines such as Prosecco for that touch of sweet fruit.
CHOOSING YOUR GIN LIQUEUR
The main quality difference to look out for is making sure that the base spirit of a gin liqueur is of the highest quality and that the added ingredients are natural and properly infused. Liqueurs can be made of low quality, with a cheap base spirit and artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners added. The result can feel like drinking pure sugar, and that is often what it is!
Look out for gins (or other spirits) from craft distilleries who will usually base their liqueurs on their finest signature gin. These makers will usually provide good information on their labels and websites to let you know exactly how a liqueur is made.
Black Powder have real expertise for creating outstanding gin liqueurs, popular as mix and match gifts with their stacking bottles. (picture) Based on an operational farm, all their liqueurs use their signature Sidelock gin as a base with added select fruits and botanicals, harvested from their estate or carefully sourced from local suppliers. For instance, their Coffee Gin Liqueur collaborates with Atkinson's Coffee who created a unique coffee blend from their finest beans, whilst their fruit-based liqueurs carefully infuse all natural ingredients. Not only that, but most are 30% abv, quite high for a liqueur but low enough to truly bring out the intended flavour without overbearing alcohol.
The Lakes Distillery have also raised the bar, with all their liqueurs using their classic gin as a base. They have successfully brought out delicate sweetness balanced with bitter in their Rhubarb and Rosehip gin liqueur using intricate flavour infusion for a liqueur that is delicately fruity with a tantalising tang. Floral sweetness if provided with their Elderflower gin liqueur and both of these show careful consideration of natural ingredients bringing delicate, natural colour.