Ginvent: How To
Ginvent is coming, Ginvent is coming, Ginvent is coming! We’re like kids on Christmas morning, except it’s not yet December and we’re clutching 24 miniature bottles of gin. With Ginvent mere days away (and our excitement reaching fever pitch), we thought it only right that we give you a little bit of prep-ahead advice so you can get the most out of your calendars, from what you need, to how to taste (and how to join the community of Gin fans taking part in the great unveil every night). So, without further ado, let’s peel back the door…
How to open:
This may sound pretty basic, but each year, in the frenzy of unveiling their daily gins, we see people hack at their drams with knives, corkscrews, gnaw at them like rabid animals and begin crying frantically about not being able to easily get a drop of gin out. To avoid reaching this delirious state of gin induced fever, the trick is to simply twist. Get a firm grip on the dram. Twist the cap. That’s all and no spillage will occur!
GLASSWARE a tasting glass is your best bet, but don’t panic if you don’t have one to hand. A brandy glass offers a nice chance to roll your gin around, but any short glass will do – you just need walls low enough to stick your face in and get a good old whiff.
TONIC a nice, neutral one. Fever-Tree, Franklin & Sons, Merchant’s Heart and Schweppes will be great additions to your fridge over the course of the month, but we’re not going to stand here and pretend we aren’t partial to Waitrose’s very fairly priced take on the mixer…
ICE The bigger the lumps, the less melting and the less unwelcome dilution of your G&T. There ain’t no G&T like an ice cold G&T!
GARNISHES Call in the classics. You can’t go wrong with orange, lemon, grapefruit and a few sprigs of rosemary. It may be worth investing in a rosemary plant so that it lasts 24 days and while it’s not the same, it’s not a bad idea to get some red fruits (like strawberry), slice them into the perfect garnishes and freeze them. That’s a lot of forward planning but it does pay off.
How to Taste:
SMELL Pour a tiny little splash of your dram into the glass. Don’t reach for the ice yet – the best way to get the most out of flavour and aroma is to try it at room temperature, no matter how much it makes you wince. Start tentatively, then have a few good, deep breaths of it and see what it conjures up. You might instantly get a hint of botanicals, or be suddenly transported to a childhood caravan holiday in Cornwall you thought you’d long forgotten. You might think it just smells of gin (which, at the end of the day, is the objective) or you might not be able to pick anything up at all. Try and get past the alcoholic whiff, and see if you can pick up on the subtleties.
SIP Put a tiny little bit of the liquid on your tongue and see if any of the aromas translate. Your tongue will react with fury here, and ask why there is a 40% ABV+ spirit resting on it. Swallow, then take another sip and hold it in your mouth. It takes a while to warm your mouth up, but as far as exercise goes, well… it’s not too much of a chore.
A gin is the sum of all of its parts, rather than the individual flavour, but picking individual ingredients out will help you to gain a better understanding of what it is you do and don’t like. Does it taste green and herbal? Or woody? Or spiced? Or citrusy? Can you pick out juniper? Orange? Reach for familiar favours, and work backwards from there.
ICE Now’s the time to add ice. A little bit of melt will open the gin out, giving the botanicals a little more room to stretch their legs. The less spirit there is, the less spirit taste there is, so the other flavours will get a chance to stand to attention. Have a sip or two, let it warm up in the mouth and see what you can pick out.
G&T Pour the rest of your dram in the glass, load her up with ice and add in as much tonic as you see fit. We’d opt for a 2:1 tonic to gin ratio – it’ll soften it up, but the gin will still be in with a shot of remaining intense.
The key thing to understand is that there is no right or wrong answer, no while we suggest this way of going about it, there’s not right and wrong way to taste gin. It’s about you enjoying your gin, the way you like to. Taste is subject to interpretation – it’s trying to tell a story and paint a picture, so the more imaginative your palate is, the more you’ll get out of it. It’s worth doing a bit of research on the gin if you have time, afterwards – how is it made or by whom? what botanicals are used? If you have a clue of the ingredients involved, you’ll know what to look out for, taste wise.
Back to Garnishes:
Garnishes are great – they can either enhance a gin or take it in a whole new direction. You can rarely go wrong with an orange wheel, but it’s worth using the selection listed above throughout the 24 days to get the most variance out of your G&Ts. If you think a gin would suit a dose of herbs, stick in some rosemary, if it needs a touch of something sour add the lemon, or if you want a face full of fruit, opt for rosemary. We’ll be putting out a pairing suggestion on Twitter every day, which you can find by searching the #Ginvent hashtag.
Join the Noise:
As well as G&T pairings, every evening, we’ll gather ‘round the Twittersphere to share our thoughts on the gin of the day. There’s a nice little community to join, with several Gin bloggers joining in the fun. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so we’ve kept the formula simple enough: Start searching the #Ginvent hashtag at 7.30pm to join in conversations, or to start your own. Tweet your thoughts on the aroma, then your thoughts on taste, then your overall impression of the gin. We hope to see you there!
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