How to choose the best gin for you: taste, quality, price, design
The choice of gins today is huge. No wonder drinkers are confused and find it difficult to choose. This guide is designed to help you make sense of the market - and to simplify your decision-making process.
Even average supermarkets and pubs have 50+ types of gin to choose from. And they’re usually only from the big distillers. Include small distilleries like York Gin and there are literally thousands of gins to choose from, especially when you consider the different types of gin. London Dry, Old Tom, Navy Strength, Sloe and all the fruit, pink, flavoured and weird gins on the market.
So how can you choose your perfect gin?
Learn everything you can about gin
This depends on what you want to get out of your love of gin. Some people are notorious ‘gin geeks’ – every December for the last few years, for example, a group on Twitter discuss the 24 gins in the Ginvent calendar each night. Their knowledge of - and ability to write about - the appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, finish and balance of each gin is incredible.
So, if you want to join the gin geeks, read all about the spirit. Your first stop should be the Gin Foundry website - an incredible font of gin knowledge.
You should also think about going to tasting classes – there are lots all over the country, where you can really get to know gin, and appreciate that every single one is different depending on the technique of distilling, the spirit that goes into it, its botanicals and many other variables.
If you take it seriously enough, you’ll start to understand what you like and what you like less - and why.
There is also the issue of price. While the massive distillers take advantage of economies of scale (you’d be surprised how cheap bottles become if you order a million of them), smaller distilleries can’t compete on price.
Quality and taste
Smaller distilleries can compete on their sustainability policies, their stories – and, importantly, on taste and overall quality. So if you’re visiting a new town, find out about the local gin distillery and find out if you can pop along either to have a look around or to join a formal tour. Check in the area where you live for distilleries. Go to food and drink markets. You can usually sample things before deciding to buy.
Experiment with minis and try local when you travel
You can also buy miniatures of many gins now – so you don’t have to risk a lot of cash on something you may or may not like. In our York Gin shop, we always let customers try as many of our gins as they like. And they can buy 5cl minis of our bottles too. We are not alone.
So have a try, experiment and always give the local a chance whenever you’re visiting somewhere new.
You may well stumble upon new favourites.
Bottle and label design
We know that some people will buy their gin based on the design of the bottle and label. That’s life! There really is no shortage of beautifully-designed gin brands out there. We think we compete pretty well on the design front. But in an ideal world, we’d prefer gin drinkers to make their decision on the quality of the spirit inside – where we’re definitely among the world’s best.