Botanical Tasting Wheel V3 & Poster
We’re very excited to present Version 3 of our Botanical Tasting Wheel, one of the best (and most complex) tools for Gin drinkers on the market. As an added bonus, we’re also releasing a poster sized version with added details…
The tasting wheel was designed with the identification and articulation of flavours in mind. When we taste gins, a kaleidoscopic rainbow of fruits and flowers rise up on the nose and explode on the tongue, but where we want to pinpoint particular things, or make certain comparisons, we humans sometimes come up short. Almost no-one is taught how to describe scent or ever required to articulate flavour in a particularly verbose manner.
Rather than describing the crunchy freshness of cucumber or the bitter, toasted lemoniness of hops, the eloquent and lucid human within us trips over on the pavement about 10 steps back and the klutz takes over… “Er,” we manage. “This tastes a bit flowery?’
The wheel puts a stop to all that. You work your way out from the middle, picking the general flavour zone (spiced, citrus etc) then continuing outwards, move onto the sensation; is it stewed? Is it curried, zesty, mentholic or jammy? These adjectives don’t just help contextualise what you are tasting, to better understand the sensation nor merely help you explain it to others, they are key to helping you on your way to discovering the likely botanical that’s triggering the sensation.
Using the three step process and follow your finger as it moves outwards on the wheel, you should land on or very close to the botanical you’re tasting. For example, you’ll move from rooty, to musky to end up on something like orris root; or you’ll go from floral, to perfumed, to honeysuckle.
When we first launched the Tasting Wheel back in 2014 (you can read all about that here), we mapped out the most used botanicals in Gin, sorting them into their flavour zones one by one. This took months of drawing work and the combined years of research to be able to have honed our tasting skills to be able to classify them. We were incredibly proud with the finished product when it finally emerged.
While the wheel has remained as popular a product as it was when we first released it, something started to niggle away at us. Sure, it wasn’t broke and it didn’t need fixing, but the sheer topography of the Gin landscape has changed so much in the last four years that what was once a little bit weird (hello lavender, you sweet little scamp) is now commonplace. We responded by making a V2 wheel and added a few botanicals here and there, as well as better placed a couple of others on in more appropriate areas.
For V3 we’ve expanded the wheel. A lot. This isn’t a fix (again, it wasn’t broke) nor is it finessing here and there – it’s a reboot fit for 2018. We’ve doubled the amount of botanicals and it now includes more of the previously missing spices and regionally relevant ingredients. For example, there are absolute oddities in there to keep up with the ever expanding Australian market (welcome pigface, come on in lemon myrtle). There are now also so many flowers it looks like an Interflora wish-list and there are more herbs (and seaweed varieties…) then you’d find in a witch doctor’s medicine cabinet!
In total, there are now 160 botanicals that are carefully mapped around the wheel. Each has been tasted, assessed and placed to be as close to the botanical next to it in order to give as smooth a transition as possible.
Not content with this (arguably taking it one step beyond sanity – we know), on the A2 sized poster, we’ve also added corner wheels defined by the major flavour zones. These add a further 100 or so botanicals to help guide your mouth towards the possible flavour you are experiencing.
It’s easy to point out that this latest version merely reflects the evolution of the Gin market, which has become a diverse, fun, changeable beast. It has. In doing so however the Botanical Tasting Wheel has become more than this and we believe that we have created a tasting wheel that goes beyond Gin.
It’s a tool that helps all foodies and anyone looking to explore either scent or taste, be it through perfume, food or as in our case – gin. There is no list, infographic or chart available anywhere that encompasses so many edible ingredients. We’ve looked. And looked. And looked again… This is the only one and while that’s a testament to just how diverse and interesting the gin category is, it also means that this little wheel will be of interest to any gastronaught looking to analyse flavours a little further, no matter what they are exploring!
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