Guide: How to buy gin

Guide: How to buy gin

Whether you prefer it shaken or stirred there's no disputing the fact that James Bond is a fan of a well made Martini.

For those of you who have never had a Martini before…shame on you. The main ingredient in a Martini is of course, gin.

The colorless spirit is a popular component in most cocktails - mainly due to the fact that it gets along so well with many ingredients.

Before we get on with discussing gin in more detail, perhaps it would be prudent to look back at its origins.

What we now know as gin, dates back to 16th century Holland, where it was sold in pharmacies as a type of medicine known as 'genever'.

Though the 'genever' available during this period was meant to be used for medicinal purposes and not as a recreational drink, the addition of juniper berries made it aromatic and flavorsome.

English troops in Holland, during the Dutch War of Independence, liked the spirit so much that they brought it back with them at the end of the war.

Gin then flourished in England, becoming so popular so fast, that the term "Gin Craze" was coined to refer to the period in history.

Today, gin basks in global popularity, and has become the drink of choice for many; especially with the advent of the martini and the ever popular 'gin and tonic'.

Whether you prefer to lay back on a deck chair at the beach or head to a bar after work, gin is a delicious accompaniment to escape from the rigours of reality.

Tasting Good Gin

What exactly is good gin? Here's the long and short of it. Good gin brings out the aroma and flavor of the botanicals added during the redistillation process.

When you do a taste test between good quality gin and lower quality gin, it is fairly easy to notice the difference in the quality of the ingredients used and the distillation process. Here's how you can do a taste test…

Choose the right glass - one that curves inward at the top, traps more of the aromas from the gin, allowing for a better olfactory experience. A glass with a stem, keeps the heat of your hands from warming the gin.

Appearance - hold up your glass of gin against the light and look at its colour. The botanicals added to the gin will impart colour as well as aroma.

Water - add an equal part of still water to the gin. The water will reduce the alcohol content of the gin and allow the full character and flavors of the botanicals of the gin to flourish.

Swirl - swirl the gin in your glass to add in some oxygen and collect the aromas around the rim.

Aroma - take a long and well deserved sniff of the gin. Try to detect notes of citrus, fruits, spice, flowers and wood. If you get strong odours of chemicals, it is a sign that you're probably about to have some poor quality gin.

Taste - finally, have a sip. Notice the subtle taste of juniper in the first sip. During the subsequent sips discover the variety of flavors residing in the gin you're drinking. In a good gin, the flavors should blend well together and complement each other. Keep in mind that juniper should be the outstanding flavor…it is after all, gin.

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