How to review gin
At The Gin Corner we like to see the purpose of the "gin flavor"
profile as way of trying to help you find a gin that you're going to love.
It isn't to detect every flavor, it's about gaining a broad overview of how strongly a gin reflects five of the primary ways that people talk about and categorize gins. Our flavor profile is an intensity diagram, which scores each gin from Low to High in each of the five categories. Although these may be self explanatory, let us take some time to go into exactly what we mean by each of the five.
Juniper was intentionally placed at the beginning of the diagram, as juniper is the basis (both legally, and taste-wide) of gin as a spirit. A gin cannot technically be a gin without some juniper in it.
But that being said, the intensity of the juniper in a gin can fit anywhere within a broad spectrum. Also, there are herbal botanicals which may give off overtones of juniper-like spice. One thing this does not differentiate though is the softness/hardness of the juniper.
Monkey 47 tend to be all juniper, but the juniper is rather soft and creamy.
This differs in a large way from Junipero's strong prickly juniper. Both would score 'High', but the resulting juniper flavor differs in a significant way.
This is the category that encompasses the widest range of gin flavors.
Gins that score higher in the spicy dimension often prominently feature classic elements of the original gin formula such as coriander or cassia, or less common botanicals such as anise or clove. Spice tries to characterize a broad range of tastes which give a gin a certain warm mouthfeel and earthy depth. One of the hardest part of creating these narrow categories is figuring out where the truly exotic and unique elements go. One example that would fall in here is the strong black peppercorn notes of Bombay Sapphire East.
Many spices and herbs give off a flowery note. Vanilla and Saffron chiefly, but primarily floral notes reflect bright and sweet notes which are imparted from botanicals which are not part of the historic gin canon. Another aspect of gin which often times gives off floral notes is the choice of base.
Whereas wheat often has a very neutral scent, gins which have grape bases (G'vine for example) read as strongly floral, even if their botanical mix doesn't contain anything which is obviously floral. Another factor that commonly leads to 'floral' gins is post-distillation infusion. For example Hendricks'
rose notes result in a higher rating in the floral category.
This category is also relatively easy to grasp: Lime, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Pomelo and even Tangerine. A citrus (any citrus, step on
up) is part of the standard gin canon, so many gins exhibit some sort of presence in this part of the chart. But some are much more about the citrus than others. For example Bloom, Tanqueray Rangpur, and many others. Next to floral, this is the most widely expanding part of the gin market. Citrus is in nearly all top notch gins, but rarely until recently have distillers allowed citrus to steal the show.
Yes, not a traditional flavor. Heat is that unmistakable 'burn' that gin has. Sometimes people attribute it to juniper alone, but that's not the case. Again, it's about the subtle difference between hard and soft juniper.
Whereas Monkey 47 is a soft juniper, which feels smooth and intense, Oxley is pert, spiky, and definitely hot. Heat isn't only about proof. Sure, many overproof (>40%) gins taste hot but also some 40% gins do, such as Plymouth.
Does it smell of alcohol when you open the bottle? Does it burn harshly when you sip it neat? Is it going to really stand out strong in a martini ? These are some of the things that go into determining the heat of a gin.
Put it all together....and you have a new way of looking at gin. Once you know what you personally like, this way of reviewing gins will help you to understand which gins may be up your alley, and which may be not.