Gin Tasting Nights – How do they work?
My Gin Tasting Nights are unique. Yeah, I know, everyone thinks that. Everyone says that! But mine really are! Here’s why…
While I do favour and work closely with some brands. (Halewoods for example…I use a lot of Dead Mans Fingers Spiced Rum, I use a lot of Lamb & Watt Tonics. I use a lot of JJ Whitley and Whitley Neill Gins in my Cocktail Masterclasses and All-Inclusive Parties). I actually refuse to favour ANY brand in my Gin Tasting Nights.
I’ve been asked to work with a load. To take on and do Gin Tasting Nights for them. And while I’m happy to take them on and entertain a crowd. I will not take them on if a client is paying me for a private night.
For my Gin Tasting Nights, Every Participant needs to have a seat at a Table with room for an A4 Tasting Sheet in front of them.
Because I love to be impartial.
I love to share behind the scenes stories. I love to share the realities. And while that’s not slating any specific Gin, I will not and refuse to give any bias in my tastings. After all, you’re not paying me to tell you what to like. You’re paying me to find out for yourself what you like. I could stand there for 4 hours and tell you that Gordons Gin is terrible. But if Gordons Gin is your favourite Gin, you’re going to think I’m a right prat! So absolutely no bias comes into it at all.
After a welcome Gin and Tonic, I give you a little bit of History surrounding Gin. Impart some of my worldly wisdom. Talk you through some day to day phrases that Gin is responsible for. Briefly Talk you through how Gin is made. And bust some myths. You know the ones. “Gin makes me Cry!” No matter how much you argue with me…it really doesn’t!! 😉
After about 30 mins…I say 20, but I like to waffle and I always get loads of questions…we dive into a bit of tasting. And we always start off with Tonic Waters.
Now it’s worth pointing out that everything in the tasting is always blind. You have no idea what you’re tasting until afterwards. I work like this, again, because I don’t want anything to influence you. I want to see if that lovely Blue Bottle you’ve been drinking for the last 15 years, IS actually your favourite. I want to find out if you do really believe Fever Tree is the best Tonic, or actually, when it comes down to it, you prefer a Supermarket Brand.
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So, we start off with the Tonic Water tasting. Because it’s probably the most vital thing of a Gin and Tonic. You’re going to get a good 100/150ml of Tonic in your Drink, so it stands to reason that you need to like ¾ of your drink!!
I used to do 8 Tonics in the Tasting, but in all honesty, it was a bit too much and after 50+ tastings, I could pick the results every single time. Now I’ve not whittled it down to 4 Indian Tonics. All you have to do in this bit, is find your favourite. We do play a little game of find the Fever Tree, but it really doesn’t matter, as I just want you to find the one Tonic you really love. I’m not going to give you the results, but its fair to say I carry a lot more of 2 of the Tonics, than the other 2. Because in the next part we get on to the Gin Tasting…and obviously for a lot of you, we do need Tonic Water to taste the Gins!
So, with your preferred Tonic water found, we now move on to the Gin.
I do change the brands about quite a bit, but they always follow a theme. We’ve normally got 16 different Gins to try, broken down in to London Dry’s, maybe an Old Tom, Pink Gins and then Fruit Gins. I do want people to try Gins neat because I think it’s important to understand the Gin in the first place, but that’s not the emphasis. I want you to find a G&T you really like. I do also use bigger Brands that are readily available in Supermarkets, Bars and Pubs. I could focus on smaller Local Brands. But if I have to travel to Essex and do a Gin Tasting and use very local Gins to Cambridge or Norfolk, you’re not going to be able to find them to buy them, should you find something you like. So, I leave that kind of Tasting to local Pubs and Bars.
During the Tastings, I’ll dish out bottles of people’s favourite tonic, plus I might even throw some curveballs in there too. For example, I found having an Hibiscus Tonic with a Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, kinda tastes like Rhubarb & Custard!!
There are 3-4 staple Gins I do use though every single time, because I like to play the Botanical Game. It is hard when you’re not used to drinking neat spirits to work out what you can taste in the botanicals, but there are 2 Gins in particular that I love to roll out to test people.
The results of the tasting are really interesting. Normally we’ll finish and people do find out they have a new favourite, or found they actually didn’t really like something they’ve liked for ages. But I think the big takeaway is the understanding and appreciating there is a Gin for everyone and it’s okay if you don’t like something your friend or partner does.
The end of the evening is always finished with another G&T of your choice, but this time with a whole plethora of Tonics. Again, when I first started, I carried 40 odd Tonics with me. Now I whittled it down to…39!! Ha, no probably about 20…featuring Schweppes, Fever Tree, Franklin & Sons, Double Dutch, Lamb & Watt and Fentimans. I do also have 2 ways of doing the final drink which I leave up to the group to decide. The first way is to give everyone a G&T of their choice. But the second way is becoming more common. Say I have a group of 15. I’ll pour 15 different G&T combinations that I know I love, then share them out in small samples. This can also be good fun, because sometimes you just want to try something without having a whole one.
So that’s it. Fun, Lively, Gin Fuelled…and hopefully you’ll find it very educational.
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If you’d like to book a tasting, then I’d love to hear from you.
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