Gin for Beginners
We here at Gin Festival HQ firmly believe that there’s a gin out there for everyone, no matter how much they profess to hate the stuff. For some people it’s the old stereotype of a pub G&T, the limp slice of lemon, the sweet tonic and the blandness of the gin, for others, it’s the bitter taste of the quinine that ruins it and finally, there are those who plain don’t like the stuff (or so they think). So I’ve put together a little guide, a Gins for Beginners to help get rid of some of these misconceptions about contemporary gin!
First of all, a good G&T will be served in a glass topped high with ice, a decent measure of gin complemented with a garnish that really brings out the complex flavours of the spirit all topped off with a premium tonic water, such as those made by our friends over at Fever-Tree. If tonic’s really not your thing, why not try mixing your gin with ginger beer or bitter lemon or a flavoured tonic? Not all gin’s work amazingly with these, with some flavours being lost but many taste even better with something a little different.
Before hitting the hard stuff, it’s a great idea to have a taster of a few easy drinking gins, a bit like the stabilisers on your first bike; have a gander through these and decide which ones sound like they’re best for you.
Brockmans Gin is a great one to try if you’re a not a fan of either tonic or traditional tasting gins; it has a soft, warming taste that comes in part from the addition of blackberries and blueberries to its base botanicals. A smooth and fruity gin that works incredibly with ginger beer (and tastes even better if you pop some blueberries and pink grapefruit peel in).
For something that’s a little sweeter and lighter than a standard London Dry, go for Portobello Road Gin No. 171; it has a nice amount of juniper flavour complemented by lavender, parma violets and citrus. Starting off from a still housed in the back of a bar, it’s a gentle and modern twist on a British classic.
Martin Millers London Dry Gin can’t help but make a wonderful introduction to the world of gin- delightfully complex, both sweet and dry with strong orange and juniper flavours; there is a softness to the mouthfeel of the gin that comes from the use of Icelandic water.
If the dryness of gin is off-putting, try Pink Pepper Gin. When newly bottled (or when diluted) its fresh and spicy flavour notes will set your tastebuds alight and as the gin ages, it becomes sweeter, mellow and delightfully warming with patisserie-esque vanilla and honey. Garnish Pink Pepper with lavender for the perfect mix!
‘An agreeably British gin’, Pinkster Gin has a small number of botanicals which allow for their flavours to come through clearly allowing you to taste a lovely gin without being overwhelmed. Dry and light, it has a clear juniper flavour, touched by raspberries (which are rather unusually added when the gin is first distilled). Play up on it’s fruitiness by adding mint and raspberries to your serve.
A modern and vibrant spirit, The Lakes Gin works particularly for an adventurous beginner; it has a big, clear citrus taste, with subtle floral undertones. It’s not the most traditional of flavours but is especially good neat or with a light tonic at a ratio of 1:1.
For a gin-newbie looking for something flavoursome and complex, Silent Pool is a great choice! Fresh notes of citrus and kaffir lime are grounded with the subtle sweetness of honey and layers of camomile and lavender.
I know I’m pretty much preaching to the converted here so spread the word; share this with your non-gin loving friends and get them to come with you to the next festival!
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