Glossary: L

Lyne Arm

The lyne arm is a copper tube that connects the head of a pot still to the condenser. As it leaves the head of the still a lyne arm either angles upwards, is horizontal, or angles downwards. The angle of the lyne arm can have an impact on the flavour of the spirit and the speed and efficiency of the process and is a point of note that many a whisky anorak have mused over.

With an upward angled lyne arm, more reflux is created making the vapour work harder to reach the condenser which will help to create a lighter spirit. By contrast a downward sloping lyne arm reduces reflux and instead encourages ‘carryover’, where the heavier oils are more likely to trickle down towards the condenser, helping to create a heavier spirit.

Legs

Legs are the trails of liquid that form on the sides of a glass after swirling the contents. 

It is caused by alcohol having a lower surface tension than water. Having legs can be a surprisingly controversial and widely misunderstood topic for oenophiles, whisky enthusiasts and rum drinkers – it shouldn’t be. 

Legs are not an indication of quality of a spirit. As it can tell you key information about the alcohol level however (higher ABV have more legs), it is a handy visual aid for those tasting something blind and trying to decipher what’s in their glass.

Low Wines

Low Wines are not wine. It is the name given to the product of the first distillation for the likes of Whisky, Rum and Brandy. 

All spirits made from scratch start with a fermented wash (like a beer or a wine) and turn it into a higher ABV version through the process of distillation. This raises the ABV (for example taking a wash from 10% ABV to 25%) but compared to what occurs in the second distillation, this is very low. 

This ‘first pass’ distillate, is known as the Low Wines. It forms the raw material of the second distillation, which takes the liquid and transforms it into the kind of strengths we are all familiar with (60-80% ABV for Whisky and Brandy, higher for the likes of Vodka), which is known as the distilled spirit.

London Dry

Confusingly London Dry is often used as a term to signify both a process and type of gin production and / or as a flavour style.

London Dry does not tell you anything about the place a gin is made, nor does it mean the gin was made in London. It’s not about geography whatsoever.

As a flavour style, London Dry is synonymous with classic, juniper forward gin. It is understandable that many use it as shorthand for this, but it is also short sighted and incorrect as there is nothing preventing a London Dry Gin from being floral, spiced, citrussy and indeed, there are hundreds of examples of this around the world.

London Dry was historically and remains to this day a term defined by process legally protected by metrics linked to production, not flavour. When we use it across the site here, we always intend it as such. To a ‘London Dry method’ or made in a ‘London Dry style’ is always about production, not flavour.

To find out more about what those production rules are and what qualifies as a London Dry Gin, read our guide here:

READ MORE

Louche / Louching

Louching is the term for when a clear spirit suddenly turns cloudy, milky or opaque. It is sometimes also known as the “ouzo effect” or hazing.

It is predominantly associated with Absinthe, which turns cloudy when water is added. This is due to the spirit containing components that are not soluble in water (mainly from the use of fennel and star anise) and the hydration causes them to drop out of solution and turn the drink cloudy - known as the louche. 

For Absinthe it is seen as a sign of quality, but for Gin and other spirit categories, the debate is much more polarised as to whether it is a positive or a fault (or if it is confusing to the everyday drinkers). Some argue that botanical intensity and fatty acids are great for flavour and mouthfeel, while others suggest that for the likes of Gin, it is unnecessary to overburden recipes with such dosages and that it’s possible to mitigate against louching through the process the distiller undertakes.

We would suggest that both can be correct and that many mistake boldness for balance, and that the decision for it being a fault or a merit must be taken on a case-by-case basis. 

Either way don’t be alarmed by a spirit that louches in your glass, it’s perfectly normal.

See Chill Filtration