The G&T is undoubtedly one of the most well-known mixed drinks in the world and we have British expats in India to thank for its creation.
It all began with quinine - first used to ward off malaria in the 1600s. It was added to tonic water some 250 years later, lending the distinctive bitter taste, and it wasn't long before British expats started adding gin to their tonic to create the very first G&Ts.
The recent craft gin boom has not only created an astonishing range of innovative, high-quality international gins, it has also given rise to a complementary category of super-premium tonic waters and mixers that both match the quality of the spirit and also complement its botanicals.
On a quest to discover the best gin & tonic pairing of 2020, IWSC judges were presented with G&Ts made only with ice, gin and Double Dutch’s Indian Tonic Water. No garnishes were used.
Reclaiming the top spot after their export strength gin won in 2016, Swedish heavyweight Hernö Gin is back and taking home the 2020 G&T Trophy for its Old Tom Gin. The judges were wowed by its floral aromas and “citrus spice complexity”. Hernö Old Tom Gin is available fromMaster of Malt for £35.
We caught up with Jon Hillgren, founder and master distiller at Hernö earlier this week – on International Gin & Tonic Day as luck would have it – to talk G&Ts, gold (medals) and garnishes.
Team Hernö. Jon Hillgren, top left
What impact has the craft gin movement had on gin and tonics?
The craft gin boom has changed the market – for both gins and tonics - and has led to an increased interest in premium products. People at home are more educated than ever and want to know more about what’s in their glass. They are choosing to drink less but better, which means they are happy to pay for interesting, high-quality gins and tonic waters.
What's your favourite garnish to use in a G&T
We like to keep our G&T simple. After all, you’re not making a fruit salad. The aim is to lift the character of the gin you’re using. One of IWSC trophy winner Hernö Gin’s key notes is lemon citrus, so we recommend garnishing with a small piece of lemon zest to enhance those notes.
What are the current trends for G&Ts?
More and more people are now selecting the best tonic match for their specific choice of gin. Premium tonic waters are more natural and really bring out gins’ aromas and flavours. Consumers also have a much better understanding of how to build a G&T in a glass, making sure to fill a highball glass up to the top with ice cubes to prevent the drink becoming too dilute. A lot of people also know that a good ratio of gin to tonic is 1:2 parts.
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