Here at Craft Gin Club, we try 200 gins for every 12 we choose to send our members. So, needless to say, we’re gin-tasting experts! Here’s how to hold your own in five easy steps:
1. Pick your gins
The most important part of a gin tasting? The gins! We like to organise our gin tastings around a theme, be it a part of the world or a particular style of gin. That way, you get a sense of cohesion. Can’t decide what to go for? Try one of every major style of gin: citrus, herbaceous, spicy and floral.
2. Decide whether you’re going in blind
We taste our gins blind, which means we don’t know which is which when we try it – and therefore can’t be influenced by anything other than flavour. To set up a blind tasting, pour a few measures of each gin into identical pitchers and stash the full bottles elsewhere. If you don’t have pitchers, wrap each bottle in tinfoil to disguise their identities. Just don’t forget which gin is which!
3. Sort out your criteria
What makes a gin good? At Craft Gin Club, we rank each gin on a scale of zero to 100, based on five characteristics: appearance in the glass (10 points), nose (20 points), palate (30 points), finish (20 points) and the story behind it (20 points), which is revealed after each gin has been scored on the other criteria. Whichever gins get the highest scores are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. The gin with the most medals at the end wins!
4. Kit out your tasting table
The spread for a gin tasting is pretty simple. All you need is an empty glass for each participant, bottles of water to cleanse your palate, scorecards for each guest and, of course, a pen! We also like to keep premium tonic and ice nearby – so you can try each gin with a dash of ice or tonic, but also to have your favourite as a G&T at the end!
5. Open up the discussion
When it comes time to discuss the gin you’re tasting, don’t be shy – there are no right and wrong answers, so have fun while you taste. Go around the table, allowing each person to describe what they taste and try to pick out a botanical or two. Then open the discussion, allowing everyone to contribute their thoughts on your rating criteria. And if the conversation moves on, let it – there’s always room for fun and laughter