Gin categories

The more gin I drink, and the more comparisons I try to draw, the more I realise it isn’t quite that simple. Every gin is different and there is a wild degree of variation across the market.

Pigeon Holes

Pigeon Holes

Every gin-drinker will have their own particular taxonomy; mine is somewhat embryonic and still developing, but as it is taking shape, I thought I would start to try to define it.

Gin-gins

Okay, this sounds a bit basic, but there are plenty of gins on the market that are just gin. They pretty much hit the spot when one is hankering for gin, but there is nothing that makes them deviate far from the traditional definition of a gin.

There are of course good examples and bad examples of a gin gin; most supermarket brands fall into this category along with Gordon’s, as do some stalwart brands that I adore – Juniper Green and Sipsmith for example are two very good gins, but beyond their quality, there is little else to say other than they are both cracking gins.

Flavoured gins

Yes, yes, all gins are flavoured, but some have one botanical (or more) that dominates the flavour beyond the traditional gin flavours. Another name might be USP (unique selling point) gins rather than flavoured gins.

In this category we have the rose and cucumber of Hendrick’s, we have the African citrus of Whitley Neill and the chamomile of the Tanqueray No Ten.

It is hard to compare these against gin-gins as they are so different and your enjoyment of them is likely to be defined by your acceptance of the USP flavour. There are some great gins in this category but they cannot really be compared to the likes of Sipsmith without clouding the waters somewhat.

Vodka-gins

This seems to be a common categorisation amongst gin drinkers. Some question whether these can be called a gin as the juniper is not seen as being dominant enough. Somewhere between a gin and a vodka, these subtle drinks are likely to be a good introduction to the non-gin-drinker. Some gin drinkers deride them, but they do have their place (just not in my glass).

This is a category that is likely to cause a little argument between gin-drinkers. Where is the line between a proper gin and a vodka-gin? I would personally put Bombay Sapphire into the vodka-gin category, but many wouldn’t.

That’s it really. Every gin I have tried falls loosely into one of these categories. There are plenty of other ways to categorise gins; Imbibe did a fantastic tasting of London gins (here) where the gins were placed on axes of citrus/floral and savoury/sweet. Part of me wonders if they missed something with their axes, but by far the greater part thinks that these people know a lot more about gin than I.

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