2   43
4   52
2   48
14   109
4   77
1   68
0   60
4   44
5   51
5   72

Tasting my entire gin collection in one day

I have what can be referred to as an ‘extensive’ gin collection. When I moved into my flat in 2016 the very first thing I purchased, before furniture or cutlery, was five bottles of gin. Then as I was travelling last year gin became my souvenir of choice since these days every city has a signature distillery. As the collection grew I discovered the 4th rule of physics – turns out gin attracts gin. Gin became the (much appreciated) go to gift that my friends would get me for birthdays and Christmas. I guess you could say that I kind of like gin.

I have wanted to write a post about my gin collection for a while but couldn’t think of a good way to do it. I’m not a food writer or an alcohol expert, I just like what I like and will enthusiastically say ‘its awesome’ to anyone who will listen. In lieu of expertise I decided to go all science on its ass. On Good Friday I invited Jess over for a day of rigorous gin testing (with the day punctuated by brunch, jewellery making and cooking a roast). We divided my collection into four testing groups; the gin tasting gins, the sloes and liqueurs, the floral and lastly the unique notes. Then within each group we ranked (1 being the best, 4 being the worst) them in four ways; smell, taste of the shot, taste with tonic and packaging.

The results are below, but spoilers… it was actually a really surprising undertaking. Essentially tonic completely ruins the flavour of any gin, all those years of hipster distillers perfecting flavour notes and then we go and wang bitter lemony tear water on top. I honestly think that most people who say they don’t like gin actually hate the tonic. To try and mitigate this we had a range of Fever-Tree tonics available and we picked the most suitable flavour per gin. Anyway, it was really fun to try my collection in this way and test to see which of the mothers ruin I actually preferred.

Side note: If you want to see the full tragic consequences of drinking 17 gins in one day head over to my ‘Highlights’ on Instagram. Let’s just say that by 3pm I was on the floor crying…don’t try this at home kids.

Oh and if any gin makers out there read this, experience FOMO and want to be included…I am shamelessly open to being sent gin in the post. I will even commit to extensive testing both by myself and peer-reviewed by other ‘scientists’ to ensure the correct findings. It’s a hard job, but this basic millennial lush is ready and waiting.

The gin tasting gins

Rebecca Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
Martin Miller 4 3 4 4
City of London 1 1 1 2
Winchester 2 4 2 3
Scapegrace 3 2 3 1
Jess Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
Martin Miller 4 4 4 4
City of London 1 1 1 3
Winchester 3 3 3 1
Scapegrace 2 2 2 2

Martin Miller
Origin: I was sent a bottle by a PR company to try
Smell: Just smells like alcohol
Taste of the shot: Tastes positively arctic, like licking a Titanic killer made of vodka (yeah…more like vodka than gin really)
Taste with tonic: Taste of the gin disappears totally when you add tonic, the gin for people who don’t like gin
Packaging: Very angular, unusually tall for a gin bottle which makes it great for standing proud at the back of a gin display
Perfect for: This is a great cocktail gin or a gin with an elder-flower tonic since it is essentially flavorless as soon as you put anything with it.

City of London Distillery – Winner!
Origin: This distillery is just down the road from my first London job and I was there drinking on the day they opened!
Smell: I don’t know what I smell, I just like it. Maybe a ghost of citrus past?
Taste of the shot: Lovely citrus flavour shines through
Taste with tonic: Beautiful. Emotional. Like a new romance
Packaging: Perfect London packaging, looks like the top of St Pauls
Perfect for: A great citrus gin that is ideal for Londonphiles

Winchester
Origin: I went to visit my lovely friend Sally (side note: she has an amazing Strengths book which is perfect if you are a little lost in life or career) in Winchester and purchased this from the Christmas market.
Smell: Complex, like pine and liquorice
Taste of the shot: NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. Tastes like liquorice and grass. (NB: Jess was too busy laughing at Rebecca’s response to answer this question)
Taste with tonic: Complex, spicy, savoury. Ideal if you don’t like sweet gins.
Packaging: Adore the story (From their website: It uses 25 medieval botanicals commonly used in food and medicine in the period; one for each Knight seated at the table with King Arthur himself on the throne at the head of the table represented by Juniper.)
Perfect for: anyone who ever wanted to be a knight or someone obsessed with pine trees

Scapegrace
Origin: This is a Kiwi gin that I looked at longingly for about a year, before being given it as a leaving present when I left my job.
Smell: I don’t like the smell, but I think I’m going to like the taste
Taste of the shot: Soft and gentle. Like licking a river stone.
Taste with tonic: You know you are drinking on a hot summers day, this is the one you ease yourself in with.
Packaging: Striking, the details are amazing
Perfect for: The homesick kiwi

Unique notes

Rebecca Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
Hendricks 1 1 1 2
Half Hitch 4 2 3 3
Hoxton 2 4 4 4
Hotel Chocolate Cocoa 5 5 5 5
Tomas Dakin 3 3 2 1
Jess Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
Hendricks 1 1 1 2
Half Hitch 4 2 2 3
Hoxton 2 4 4 NA
Hotel Chocolate Cocoa 5 5 5 NA
Tomas Dakin 3 3 3 1

Hendricks – Winner (by default)
Origin: This is the Runawaykiwi family gin, the one that we got from Duty Free every time we came back to NZ and the only gin we would order in a bar. No matter what the other gins taste like Hendricks is going to win because it is the shot I keep in my heart.
Smell: Biased. I don’t have the option of free thought on this one, I love it by instinct.
Taste of the shot: Strong cucumber taste
Taste with tonic: Fucking brilliant – cucumber notes break through the tonic perfectly
Packaging: Classy. Immediately noticeable on a bar shelf.
Perfect for: Anyone with a mouth who can legally drink alcohol

HalfHitch
Origin: Remember when I went to Camden for a day? This is the gin I got from the local distillery.
Smell: Tiny hint of vanilla
Taste of the shot: As if Earl Grey punched you in the face himself
Taste with tonic: Love the aftertaste. Like the same depth of flavour as a cup of tea.
Packaging: The logo is very well designed, need to see a full sized bottle
Perfect for: Sophisticated grownups

Hoxton
Origin: I first tried this in the Oliver Conquest when the hot bartender said “do you like pina coladas”
Smell: Fuck load of coconut, little bit of pineapple (even though it is not an ingredient???)
Taste of the shot: [full body involuntary twitch] really fake coconut taste like eating sunscreen
Taste with tonic: The gin equivalent of Malibu
Packaging: Too basic
Perfect for: Getting caught in the rain

Hotel Chocolate
Origin: This was a present from the one and only Emma!
Smell: Out of date chocolate that been in the fridge for a while
Taste of the shot: Tastes like how the bulk section of Whole Foods smells
Taste with tonic: I really don’t like that.
Packaging: Too basic
Perfect for: People who hate tasting nice things

Thomas Dakin – Winner!
Origin: When I flew back from Chicago one time feeling lonely and low, I wanted to buy a gin to perk me up. This was the only interesting gin that Heathrow duty free had, and I got it even though I hate horseradish.
Smell: This might be weird….this just smells like gin. Have we gone gin blind?
Taste of the shot: I can taste the horseradish, like a wasabi shot
Taste with tonic: Love it, I don’t like horseradish but the flavour notes are amazing? The horseradish goes away somehow and becomes the right amount of subtle.
Packaging: Amazing attention to detail, great use of fonts, artistic bottle, historical facts, bright colour choices.
Perfect for: Something a little different that will become your favouite

Sloes and liqueurs

Rebecca Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
EG Pomegranate and rose 1 1 1
Rubarb 5 5 5
Spiced Clementine 3 5 2
Bramley and Gage 2 3 3
Becketts Sloe 4 4 4
Jess Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
EG Pomegranate and rose 1 4 1
Rubarb 5 5 5
Spiced Clementine 3 3 2
Bramley and Gage 2 2 3
Becketts Sloe 4 1 4

EG Pomegranate and rose – Winner!
Origin: This was a present from my ever amazing sister, she sent it to me with a bottle of champagne to make an epic Christmas cocktail.
Smell: Sugary rose…why can I smell pineapple?
Taste of the shot: Liked the smell more than the taste. Very sweet, maybe too much rose. Champagne would balance out the sweet.
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: A special occasion

Rhubarb
Origin: No idea…can gin just breed itself?
Smell: Smells more like a normal gin with a slight hint of fruit
Taste of the shot: Might be good if you like rhubarb
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: Someone who actually likes rhubarb

Spiced Clemintime
Origin: Jasmine brought this one for me for Christmas
Smell: Smells like Christmas, and spices
Taste of the shot: It tastes like an old fashioned if an old fashioned was made with gin
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: Christmas cheer

Bramley and Gage
Origin: I got this one in a gin subscription box (yes they exist)
Smell: Does what it says on the tin, smells like a sloe gin
Taste of the shot: Tastes a little rough around the edges
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: If you have run out of other Sloe gins

Becketts Sloe
Origin: I ran through the streets of Soho to get this sloe, I was spending Christmas by myself and I wanted to have something to drink to make the day feel special.
Smell: Raisins and alcohol
Taste of the shot: I like that its easy drinking, tastes like good raisins
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: A go-to sloe

The floral

Rebecca Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
Chelsea flower show 3 3 2 3
Ha’Penny 1 1 1 1
Brecon 2 2 3 2
Jess Smell Shot taste Tonic taste Packaging
Chelsea flower show 3 3 2 3
Ha’Penny 1 1 1 1
Brecon 2 2 3 2

Chelsea flower show
Origin: That troublemaker Emma, she got this one for me after borrowing my camera.
Smell: Just smells like alcohol
Taste of the shot: Tastes like alcohol with a vaguely floral aftertaste
Taste with tonic: No strong taste at all? Where did the flowers go?
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: If you really dig the Chelsea flower show

HaPenny – Winner!
Origin: I went for a day trip to Dublin to visit some friends and purchased this on my way back at Dublin airport.
Smell: Lightly floral with a hint of pepper
Taste of the shot: Very full of flowers, lots of lavender
Taste with tonic: More pronounced florals with tonic added, less pepper
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: The Venn diagram between people who love lavender and people who love Ireland

Brecon
Origin: There were two discounts on Amazon (a generic gin one, and a Prime Member one) which meant I got this bottle for £10.
Smell: Really gentle, no clear flavours
Taste of the shot: #Jess and Rebecca stared blankly at each other for a while. No strong notes, just smooth taste
Taste with tonic: The mystery gin that you can never taste at all
Packaging: [question not answered for some reason, I suspect alcohol was involved]
Perfect for: Mystery lovers, another good one for mixers

Top recommendations from Jess

Top recommendations from Rebecca

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