There is no right or left swiping as such, more of a tutored gin tasting with Nik, who gets to know your tastes and then suggests your perfect gin and tonic, which gets made up at the bar by Henry.
Nik passionately waxing lyrical about gin (no I didn’t warn him I was taking this photo!)
The line up – yes we tried most of these gins and tonics!!
We started at the beginning, which all gin fiends know if basically vodka…
This RubyBlue vodka was smooth – made from potatoes in Ireland this is the good stuff! (Reminds me of Vestal Vodka’ssingle variety potato ‘vintage’!)
A neutral spirit like vodka is the base for gin – gin is in fact a flavoured vodka….or rye or whatever your base is. The main thing that makes it gin is the juniper – a minimum 50% has to go in to the botanicals to be allowed to call it gin.
Once we had all tasted the vodka, agreed it was good, but not gin, we started with the matching process…
First up – Hayman’s a classic London Dry style gin (which basically means it’s a classic gin – citrus and juniper!)
Everyone liked this one – so then it was Nik’s chance to try and split us by mixing it up. We tried Fair gin and Palmers 44 (one he is familiar with as he used to work at Langleys who made gin for the Palmer family)
Palmers is citrus heavy, the recipe uses grapefruit and sweet Seville oranges, so is strong on the aroma.
For a complete contrast Fair has a much more earthy taste. Straight away I could tell that the base spirit had some underlying flavour – and as this gin is made in Cognac, France that’s because it’s made using grapes!
In addition they add a lot more of the earthier style botanicals such as cassia bark, orris root and a different style of juniper berry. It has a lot more depth of flavour and some spiciness.
We then tried Masons Yorkshire gin special tea edition. This takes a typically citrus Yorkshire tea and adds lots of lemon – so ideal for citrus lovers – with some sweetness from liquorice. I actually prefer their dry gin over this particular addition, so on to the next…
58 Gin was served to the member of our group who preferred the earthiness of the Fair gin and we all liked this one!
Now that the group was split a bit we tried the gin supplied to the Queen:
No. 3 is made and supplied by Berry Bros and Rudd, made to a traditional recipe in the Netherlands it also uses a lot of grapefruit and is perfectly balanced.
Then we tried some tonic bases… First up BTW tonic syrup, made in Bermondsey
This is like quinine squash – ie you have to dilute it with soda water (and gin obvs!) before you have a G&T. Because it’s made with real chinchinoa bark it has a natural colour and some bitterness to balance the sweet syrup (you can make this yourself – I’m going to try at some point!)
Then we tried the unsual Pedrino. This tonic is actually alcoholic (only 5%) and is made with Pedro Ximenez sherry.
It’s actually a delightful drink on its own – soft and slightly sweet – perfect for a hot summer day! I’m not sure it worked so well as a G&T though… But the mix of sherry and gin makes it feel like a cocktail straight away! (Soon to be stocked at Waitrose apparently…)
We weren’t finished yet… Some more gins were lined up:
Brighton gin (in keeping with the theme they also do gin flavoured rock!)
The USP for Brighton is that it is the only gin to use milk thistle as a botanical. So maybe drinking it means no hangover?! It’s a nice easy drinking gin (by the way I should mention that we were trying these gins neat before adding tonic!) this one went well with the FeverTree Mediterranean tonic – which Nik recommends to showcase garnishes.
Then to really mix it up Nik had us try Shetland Reel. Made using Shetland seaweed in the distillation you can taste the sea!
Well definitely a hint of something salty – an interesting gin, they had to keep the alcohol % high to keep the seaweed from overpowering the rest of the botanicals.
We also tried this special gin from Malawi.
I’ve been following them for a while on Twitter, but this was the first time I’ve been able to try it.
Malawi gin is warm with an interesting depth and lots of spice. I really enjoyed it – so much so that I demanded it was in my Ginder G&T!
Henry mid pour with our perfect G&Ts! You can see how those tonic waters have vivid colours.
Nik certainly listened well, the Malawi gin was served with a lemongrass tonic, rosemary and grapefruit.
I’ve tried the tonic before at London cocktail week
and I’m sure that Nik picked up on my liking the lemongrass from my love of Bobbies and Butlers gins (both heavy on the lemongrass).
The garnish was inspired too – the grapefruit gradually infuses into the drink and so the flavour is constantly evolving. I was very happy with my Ginder match.
The group in general liked their matches – however the G&T with the Pedrino wasn’t as sweet as imagined, but hell by then we were all a bit tipsy!
Now to find me a bottle of Malawi and a crate of no. 5 lemongrass tonic… Nik and Henry can you set me up with a boyfriend next?!
Nik and Henry run Garnish Communications and have lots of exciting pop ups and events planned over the next few months and into summer – check out the A World of Gin website
for more info, now they just need to work on that Ginder app!!