If you know a little about distilling, you know that water is a key ingredient and that many distilleries pride themselves on the water they use especially when it comes from a spring on their premises. Scotch whisky distilleries will tell you that the water that comes from their spring give their whisky a distinctive taste that will can only be found in their whisky. In fact, the reason that you see so many Scotch whisky brands beginning with the term “glen” is because the glen refers to a deep, narrow valley that has a water source running through it.
The water source is as equally important in gin production. For instance, our February Gin of the Month, Warner Edwards, has a spring on their Northamptonshire grounds that has existed for centuries and from which they collect water before filtering it and putting it in their still with the base spirit and botanicals. Tom and Sion, Warner Edwards’ distillers’, claim that they can taste the minerals that occur naturally in their water in their gin which obviously gives it a flavour that no other gin will every have.
Or course, not all distillers use spring water and you as a consumer may be confused by all of the terms you see when you buy bottled water, read the labels on your home water filter, or even just pour your self a glass of tap water. To help un-confuse you, here are some of the terms you may have heard and their definitions:
- Spring water: a spring is a point where water comes out of the ground. Spring water is often naturally filtered as it flows through permeable rock like limestone where it also picks up minerals.
- Mineral water: Technically, mineral water comes from a mineral spring and has a distinctive taste according to the composition of those minerals. Mineral water also carries health benefits which is why people visit natural spas to soak themselves. Today, “mineral” is often used as a marketing term. Just the same, there are over 3,000 brands of mineral water worldwide some of which actually bottle their water at the source.
- Purified water: this is water that has been put through a purification process that brings the liquid’s impurities down to no more than 10 parts per million. Purified water can come from any source - spring, tap or ground water.
- Distilled water: just like you make gin through distillation, you can distill water by itself to create a very pure liquid. The process, just like the process to make gin, includes boiling the water so that it evaporates. The steam then condenses in a separate container, cleared of all impurities.