The question has come up a few times recently in personal conversations: Isn’t gin really just flavored vodka? Gin is really a grain neutral spirit infused with various herbs. Vodka is simply a grain neutral spirit. Technically, yes, that makes gin a flavored vodka, but I would imagine ardent gin fans may disagree. Gin martini die hards won’t accept that a vodka martini counts as a martini, for example. Eric Asimov (no clue if he’s related to Issac), the New York Times wine critic, has an interesting piece about gin fighting to make a comeback this summer. In this piece, apart from calling vodka “the devil,” he also makes the case for gin being vodka:
Though gin has been blown out of the market by vodka, it nonetheless depends on it. You cannot have gin without vodka. Vodka is neutral spirits. It can be distilled from practically anything. Most is distilled from grain, but you can also find it made from grapes, potatoes and plenty of other materials. Regardless of the base, the point is to distill the distinctiveness out of the vodka, rendering a spirit of aloof purity.
While that is the end result of vodka, it’s just the beginning with gin.
It’s an interesting conundrum: a spirit that is essentially vodka trying to stand up against the growing vodka market. I wonder if it’s likely we’ll see a juniper flavored vodka from someone like Smirnoff or Stoli.
What do you think? Is gin really just vodka?