With important instructions for us to all stay at home, we have temporarily paused all of our gin experiences for the foreseeable future. It’s wonderful to see so many creative ideas and activities taking place in order to bring everyone together, so we thought we’d share with you some tips to host your very own virtual gin tasting at home during lockdown with your loved ones.
You will need to do a little forward planning on this one. Start by sending the list of gins for your friends to purchase for the session, as well as the recommended garnishes and mixers for the perfect serve. The six gin flavour profiles, as outlined by the Gin Guild, are:
Juniper, Citrus, Floral, Fruit, Herbal, Spice
We’ve recommended gin options to purchase for your tasting that fall under these categories, however you can of course pick you own gins with the guidance from the Gin Guild website. After tasting all six gin types, you might be surprised to find out you prefer a juniper heavy gin or a floral flavour profile over a citrus or spice base.
Wondering what gins to include in your tasting? Check out our suggestions below to fill each flavour profile perfectly:
Citrus: Our classic Slingsby London Dry Gin is a super refreshing citrus forward option. Expect an initial burst of refreshing citrus and grapefruit giving way to juniper, sweet cicely and Taylors of Harrogate jasmine scented green tea. Pair with Indian tonic, grapefruit peel and fresh blueberries
Floral: Bloom is a delicate gin with floral notes on both the nose and palate. Serve with strawberries and premium tonic
Fruity: Manchester Raspberry Gin is very sweet with a “jammy” aftertaste and some floral notes on the tails. Pair with Indian tonic and raspberries. And of course, Slingsby Rhubarb Gin is another one within this flavour profile. Mix with Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic and garnish with fresh raspberries
Herbal: Gin Mare is herbaceous through and through and inspired by Mediterranean flavours. Use olives and thyme as the garnishes and serve with Mediterranean tonic
Spiced: For a traditionally spiced option, try Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin. This gin traces a heritage back to ancient spice routes, where intrepid merchants from distant lands would carry exotic spices and botanicals thousands of miles. Mix with Indian tonic and garnish with an orange peel twist
Juniper: Chase GB Extra Dry gin is smooth & full bodied and is perfectly balanced with juniper, spice and citrus. Serve with Indian tonic water and a slice of ginger
There are also some brilliant readymade sets that you can purchase for your tasting sessions. Ilovegin.com has a fantastic UK Gin Tour gift set which features our own Gooseberry variant as a fruity gin style, Silent Pool which falls under the floral category, Aber Falls which is juniper-led and Boë and Boatyard which both offer a citrus forward flavour profile… a journey of UK gin styles from the comfort of your own home!
Wine glasses are the ideal vessel when tasting gins neat or with a dash of water because they concentrate aromas towards the nose when drinking, in the same way as wine tasting. You could really impress your friends by telling them about retronasal olfacation which means that 75% of what we taste comes through our nose. And if you don’t own any Copas or Balloon Glasses often referred to as ‘gin goblets’, wine glasses also work well when trying gins paired with tonics and garnishes.
How to taste
Here are our four steps to tasting gin the right way:
- Swirl the gin around the glass and notice how quickly the line of liquid begins to drip back down into the bowl. If the liquid (referred to a legs) runs down quickly, this means it contains a lot of light essential oils; citrus, floral oils etc and a low amount of residual sugar. If it runs down slowly then it means heavy essential oils are dominant, such as; cardamom, anise, liquorice, juniper etc and more residual sugar
- To appreciate some of the aroma, you can pop a finger into the gin within the glass and wipe it on your palm before rubbing your hands together. Cup your hands together and take a deep inhale
- Take a very small sip neat then swirl the gin over your tongue and swallow. The taste will not be pleasant initially but that is because your body’s natural reaction to the alcohol is for your tongue to buckle and your taste buds to shrivel. After the first sip, your body realises it is safe to drink and your tongue relaxes – a second sip will then allow more of the flavours to come through and you can appreciate the liquid more
- The next stage is to add an equal amount of room temperature water to your gin. This allows the palate and aromas to develop more effectively by breaking apart some of the longer molecule and oil chains within the gin, so you will enjoy the flavour more
- Ask your friends to score the gin out of 5 with 1 being disliked and 5 absolutely adored! Discuss everyone’s scores after tasting each gin.