What Is Extra Dry Gin? (History and Production Explained)

Gin is easily one of the more popular spirits in the market, probably behind whisky and vodka. It has a flowery, refreshing taste to it that many love. Gin also has variations, with the extra dry gin common but confusing to many. What is extra dry gin?

Extra dry gin is a variation of gin. The main difference from other gins is that it is made without adding sugar and that the botanicals are distilled together with the grain alcohol. Extra dry gin also has a cleaner taste and a stronger botanical taste.

This article explains what extra dry gin is and also compares it against a more popular gin type, the London dry gin.

What Is Extra Dry Gin?

Extra dry gin is a variation of gin made to have a cleaner taste with a more pronounced botanical flavor. This is achieved by not adding sugar during the distillation process and by distilling the grain alcohol with the botanicals.

There are several major types of gin available in the market. These include London dry gin, extra dry gin, Old Tom gin, and Plymouth gin. There are other types of gin as well, but they are not as popular as these. 

These gins are different from each other in how they are made and also the end result. This means the gins may taste and give a different mouthfeel to drinkers. Some may be significant enough you do not need to be a gin connoisseur to tell them apart.

With extra dry gin, the goal is to produce a cleaner, purer gin with a stronger botanical taste. When drunk, you may taste a neutral, alcoholic taste as a start. Then you will notice a more pronounced botanical flavor, commonly juniper berries.

QUICK TIP: Extra Dry Gin tastes purer and cleaner, with a stronger botanical flavor.

This taste and flavor are achieved in several ways. One is to not add flavorings such as sugar into the grain alcohol. Secondly, the botanicals are added to the still during distillation, which means the alcohol has more time to react with the juniper berries. 

Since it has a purer yet more pronounced taste, extra dry gin is popular in cocktails. The most common way of drinking gin is to mix it with soda water and squeeze a bit of lime. Gin and tonic are a classic that extra dry gin also excels at. 

Popular brands of extra dry gin include Seagram, Gilpins, and Williams GB.

How Is Extra Dry Gin Different From London Dry Gin?

Extra dry gin differs from London dry gin in the method of preparation, use of sugar, taste, flavor, and popularity. These resulted in extra dry gin being seen as a different variation of gin to be drunk and enjoyed differently than London dry gin.

AspectsExtra Dry GinLondon Dry Gin
Method of PreparationDistilled with the botanicals in the grain alcoholDistilled with the botanicals removed from the grain alcohol
Use of SugarNo sugar addedSugar is added to grain alcohol before distillation.
TasteCleaner, pure, slightly bitterHint of sweetness
FlavorStrong botanical flavorMilder botanical flavor
PopularityLess popularMost popular Gin type

There is a reason why extra dry gin and London dry gin are seen as different variations of gin. This is because they differ from each other in many ways:

Method of Preparation

Generally, both gins are prepared similarly. The botanicals are soaked and infused with the botanicals during the process. 

The main difference is that during the distillation of extra dry gin, the botanicals remain with the grain alcohol. For London dry gin, they are usually removed from the alcohol at this stage.

This means the botanicals spend more time with the grain alcohol, which may give extra dry gin a stronger flavor of botanicals, such as juniper berries.

Use of Sugar

During the distillation process, London dry gin has sugar added to the drink. This results in a slightly sweet taste to the drink when you sip it. Some attribute the use of sugar to adding more dimension to the London dry gin since it has a milder botanical flavor

This cannot be said for extra dry gin. No sugar was added during the distillation process. This may be explained as to keep the gin pure and not mask the stronger botanical flavor.


Due to the difference in how they are prepared, London dry gin and extra dry gin also taste different. London dry gin has a slightly sweeter taste, thanks to sugar. It also tastes milder and does not deliver a punch or a hit of alcohol. 

Extra dry gin uses no sugar, which usually tastes purer, with a stronger alcoholic ‘punch.’ This may explain why it is called an ‘extra dry’ gin. Such a cleaner taste may appeal to some drinkers. 


London dry gin tends to have a milder botanical flavor than extra dry gin. This goes back to how they were prepared. Since extra dry gin has more time with the botanicals, it picks up more flavors, unlike London dry gin.

The stronger flavor of extra dry gin may make them popular as mixers. This is because they help the cocktail drink to retain the botanical flavors, even after mixing them with other drinks.


London dry gin is the undisputed winner here, as it is much more popular with drinkers than extra dry gin. Popular gin brands such as Bombay Sapphire, Gordon’s, and Beefeater are all examples of London dry gin. 

London dry gin is also more popular because it is easier to the palate than extra dry gin. Some have equated London dry gin as your easy-to-sip morning coffee, with extra dry gin are your dark roasts. 

Final Thoughts

Extra dry gin is a unique and complex spirit that has a long and interesting history.

It is made from a combination of botanicals and often has a slightly sweet flavor due to the addition of sugar. It can be enjoyed straight, neat, or on the rocks, as well as used in various cocktails. 

With its popularity on the rise, extra dry gin is an excellent choice for any gin-loving connoisseur.

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