Updated: 10th Jan 2020

By Alex, Head Mixologist at Spirit of Harrogate

Bamboozled by gin? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Sales of gin have tripled since 2009 and the latest figures show Brits spent over £2bn on gin last year – so it’s hardly surprising if you feel a little overwhelmed by the huge choice of tipples and gin schools on offer.

Luckily, we’ve created an experience which not only helps you work out which type of gin you should buy to suit your palate but also allows you to make your own bespoke bottle of gin from scratch.

Over the last three years, gin has exploded. On average there are four new gin distilleries opening in Europe every day, so there are thousands to choose from. It’s not surprising when people say there’s too much choice around!

There are also a lot of gin schools which fail to explain the different styles and categories of gin before going into the gin making experience, so you end up with a gin you don’t like. Our Master Distiller experience, here at Spirit of Harrogate, is different because we tailor it to the individual’s preferences.

The whole ethos behind our Master Distiller experience is that it’s bespoke to the individual. At the beginning of the two-hour workshop, each person is given six gins to blind taste. Each of these gins follows the categories outlined by The Gin Guild, which are:

Juniper, Citrus, Floral, Fruit, Herbal, Spice

Wine and beer are already categorised in a similar way, so now it’s gin’s turn. Some gins will of course cross into more than one category but for the majority, there will be a more dominant flavour profile. Our popular Yorkshire Rhubarb Gin sits firmly in the fruit gin category but as it uses the base of our London Dry Gin which has a high citrus profile, it falls quite high in the citrus category.  Going forward, once this categorisation is rolled out more broadly, it will make it much easier for people to go into a supermarket, or a shop like ours, to find a gin they know they will enjoy, without even needing to taste it.

Once you’ve tasted the six gins and had a few nibbles, we then lead you upstairs to the distillation room where each person is given their own copper still, distillation equipment and iPad, which lists the different flavour profiles and the types of botanicals that fall under each category. From the initial tasting of the six gins, for example, if you know you liked juniper and citrus, you can then create a gin that combines botanicals from both of these categories to create a totally unique gin.

After completing the experience, Emma Gardner from Boston Spa, told me: “Before I did the Master Distiller experience, I would have thought that I’d prefer fruity and citrus gins. But actually, the blind tasting made me realise I prefer spiced and floral gins. With this knowledge, I could create my own bespoke gin which contained lots of beautiful spices, as well as a dash of elderflower and lavender, which I’ve always loved. I can’t wait to open it because I think it will be the best gin I’ve tried yet!”

Not only does our Master Distiller experience teach you the science behind making gin and allow you to make a beautiful bottle to take home with you. You also get to try some delicious Slingsby gin and tonics along the way.

Will you become a Master Distiller in 2020? Slots are now available – book here.