First Time Drinking Gin: A Taste Test Guide

The first time I tried gin, I was not too fond of it. I ordered a gin and tonic with Gordon’s gin, and I don’t remember what the tonic water brand was. It wasn’t until a year, or so later that gave it another go at a gin and tonic, oh my, I loved it. If you’re new to gin and are wondering where to start, this article is for you.

For your first time drinking gin, I recommend trying a gin and tonic. Most people don’t like drinking gin straight; drinking gin straight might be the wrong choice for beginners. Gin and tonic is the most popular way of drinking gin while still giving you the tasting experience of gin botanicals.

With that said, there is a wide variety of gins and mixers that will influence your gin experience. Gin isn’t a one size fits all drink, I’m sure you will enjoy some brands more than others. The diversity is one of the beauties of gin; I love discovering a new brand with a distinctive taste. So let’s dive a little deeper and guide you on your first gin tasting.

How do you Start Drinking Gin?

To start drinking gin, you should do a test to find out which gin you like most. This way, you’ll be prepared with a go-to gin when you’re out at a bar with friends and already know what gin to order.

For this taste test, you will need a few bottles of gin and tonic water. You’re just tasting the different flavors in gin, no need to get fancy with preparing cocktails; we’ll serve them all in the same fashion.

One thing to note about serving gin is that you should use one part gin and three-part tonic. Be sure to use this measure for the taste testing to evaluate all the gins equally. A gin and tonic with too much gin will not be as pleasant. The perfect ratio between gin and tonic may vary depending on the brand; many gin bottles even provide instructions for a perfect serve.

What is the Best Gin for Beginners?

Now, let’s look at a few gin brands to get you started. There are thousands of gins on the market, and obviously, I haven’t tried all of them. So I’m just picking some of the bottles I recommend trying to get your taste buds going. I’m not making a best-of list; it’s just a list of some affordable options for you to try.

As a tip, if you want to try the gins without spending too much money, you can look for the 50ml bottles. These airplane bottles will do fine for the taste test and shouldn’t be more than a few dollars each.

Now let’s look at my selection of gins for beginners.

Gordon’s Gin

At the top of this list, we have Gordon’s Gin. Gordon’s is a London dry gin and contains juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, licorice, orris root, orange, and lemon peel.

I’m not a big fan of this gin, but it comes at a reasonable price and should be easy to find. It’s probably the least expensive gin you’ll find on the shelf. I’m convinced that after trying some of the other gins I recommend, you won’t be drinking much Gordon’s.

Bombay Sapphire Gin

Bombay Sapphire was the second gin I tried, after Gordon’s. It’s also not my favorite nowadays, but I do prefer Bombay over Gordon’s.
Bombay Sapphire consists of ten botanicals; almond, lemon peel, licorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise.

Beefeater Gin

Beefeater is a standard London dry gin, much like Gordon’s and Bombay Sapphire, but I think Beefeater is a more pleasant gin.
According to the Beefeater website, Beefeater Gin contains nine different botanicals; juniper, angelica root, angelica seeds, coriander seeds, licorice, almonds, orris root, Seville oranges, and lemon peel.

While the gins I’ve listed so far are well known and standard on most store shelves, they’re not my go-to gins. I think you should try them as you will probably encounter them often, but now let’s look at some gins I would choose when ordering.

Citadelle Gin

Citadelle Gin has been my go-to gin for the past few months. Citadelle is a french gin containing 19 botanicals; juniper, violet root, coriander, almond, lemon rind, orange peel, angelica, cardamom, cassia bark, cinnamon, licorice, grains of paradise, cubeb, cumin, savory, star anise, nutmeg, fennel, and orris root.

Tanqueray Gin

Tanqueray Gin is one of the first good gins I tried after Gordon’s and Bombay Sapphire. Tanqueray contains four botanicals; juniper, coriander, angelica root, and licorice.

Hendrick’s Gin

Hendrick’s gin is one of the favorites among my friends, and it’s the first gin I tried that made me realize how each gin experience can be different.
Hendrick’s takes a different spin on botanicals, in addition to the traditional juniper berries, Hendrick’s uses Bulgarian rose and cucumber to add flavor.

What is the Best Gin Drink for a first-time Drinker?

The gin and tonic! Don’t drink gin straight. I doubt very much you will enjoy it. The best way to drink your gin for the first time is on a gin and tonic, and it’s straightforward to prepare. For our taste test, we will only use two ingredients; gin and tonic water. We want to compare the taste between gins and decide which one you like best, so we’ll prepare all in the same manner.

How to Prepare a Gin and Tonic

If you are going to be testing all the gins, make small portions of gin and tonic to taste; let’s try not to get wasted during the taste test.
You’ll want to ration one part gin and three parts tonic water. Now, grab a tall glass and fill with it ice cubes. Next, add the gin followed by gently pouring the tonic water. You don’t want to splash the tonic into the glass. To finish, give your cocktail a short, gentle stir.

What Tonic Water Should I use with Gin

Finally, let me give you a tip on what tonic water to use with gin. The tonic water is the most of your gin and tonic cocktail, so using a good tonic water matters. I recommend you buy a bottle of Fiverr Tree, it’s an excellent tonic and will match our selection well. I like to keep the tonic in the fridge to keep it fresh for when I prepare my cocktails.

Wrapping up

Hopefully, my guide helped you on your first time drinking gin. Having gone through this experience, you should now know if you like gin or not. Not everyone is a gin fan. But if you did enjoy the gin and cocktail test, your gin journey may be just beginning. There is a world of gins, botanicals, and cocktails out there to discover.

John Antunes

My name is Johnny, and I love Gin. I'm also a software engineer with a passion for technology and blogging.

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