Ginology: A Beginning

By Michael W. Harris

In my ever-expanding quest to become more “sophisticated”—or maybe to give me an easier blogging topic that lends itself to shorter posts—I decided to start getting systematic about how I taste and appreciate gin. There are many ginand really any kind of alcohol you can think ofreviewers out there, and their palates are way more refined than mine, but you have to start somewhere, right?

While a spirit like whisk[e]y can be fully appreciated on its own, in my experience gin really is a drink that can take on different qualities and fully reveals itself in different cocktails and is rarely consumed solo. For this reason, I have decided that I am going to try the gin in three different forms—straight, in a gin and tonic, and in a pink gin—before rendering any verdict.

In my reviews, I will be providing notes for the nose, palate, and finish of the drink, but only the latter two for the cocktails. After all of this, I will then provide a very loose recommendation for the bottle: top, middle, or bottom shelf. Take these recommendations for whatever you think they are worth.

By my count, prior to starting this little side project, I have tried over thirty different types of gin, though I am certain I am forgetting some. I am going to try and go back and acquire most of those, though some of the Colorado gins will be a bit harder to get a hold of, but you should feel free to send me stuff and “donate” to my quest. To begin with, though, in order to give myself a baseline to work from, I am going to start out with reviews for three of my standard, go to gins: Tanqueray No. 10, Hendrick’s, and Beefeater.

I will start every review by giving an overview of the gin with notes as to ABV, distiller, and, most importantly, what botanicals are used, along with any interesting facts about the distilling process. For me, this will also help me solidify my gin knowledge, as of right now I know just enough to get myself confused when I think too much about it. From there I will give the tasting notes for each of three versions (though I might sometimes add a fourth variant on the pink gin that uses different bitters), and then finally my verdict and final thoughts.

So, let’s have some fun and learn about gin!


Straight: 2 oz. pour in a Glencairn whisky glass

Gin and Tonic: equal parts gin and tonic (3 oz.) with a lime twist, served in a chilled Collins glass (I know, I know, most people have it at a 2:3 ratio, or even 1:2, with more tonic than gin, but I like my G’nTs strong).

Pink Gin: 3 dashes angostura bitters (variant: peychaud’s bitters) with 2 oz. of gin served in a chilled rocks glass with the interior coated in bitters.

Well, that’s it for now. And remember:

It is a curious fact, and one to which no-one knows quite how much importance to attach, that something like 85 percent of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonyx, or gee-N’N-T’N-ix, or jinond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand variations on this phonetic theme.

The drinks themselves are not the same, and vary between the Sivolvian ‘chinanto/mnigs’ which is ordinary water served just above room temperature, and the Gagrakackan ‘tzjin-anthony-ks’ which kills cows at a hundred paces; and in fact the only one common factor between all of them, beyond the fact that their names sound the same, is that they were all invented and named before the worlds concerned made contact with any other worlds.

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

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