Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A Guide to Taste and Appreciate New Zealand's Exceptional Gins


A Guide to Taste and Appreciate New Zealand's Exceptional Gins

New Zealand may be one of many countries to come to mind regarding spirit production. However, this picturesque nation in the South Pacific has quietly emerged as a hub for exceptional gin production. With its pristine landscapes, abundant botanicals, and a commitment to craftsmanship, NZ gin has fostered a thriving industry that showcases unique flavours and innovative techniques. This article will delve into the art of tasting, providing essential tips and insights on developing your palate and fully appreciating this beloved spirit's nuanced flavours.

Understanding The Beverage

First, understand the beverage before you embark on your tasting journey. It is a spirit that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries. It is typically distilled with various botanicals, such as coriander, citrus peels, or spices, contributing to its distinct taste. This spirit has various styles, including London Dry, Old Tom, and Genever, each with its own production methods and flavour profiles.


Choose the proper glassware: Select a tulip-shaped glass or a Copa de Balon, which allows the aromas to concentrate at the rim, enhancing your olfactory experience.

Temperature matters: Chill your glass before pouring the spirit into it. The ideal temperature for tasting is between 10-12 degrees Celsius (50-54 degrees Fahrenheit), which helps release the flavours more effectively.

Neat or with a splash: When tasting, it's best to start by sampling it neat, without any mixers or ice. This allows you to appreciate the spirit's complexities and character fully. However, feel free to experiment with small quantities of water or ice to explore how it alters the flavour.

The Tasting Process

Visual examination: Begin by observing the appearance of the beverage. Note its clarity, colour, and viscosity. Clear gins are typically more common, but some may exhibit a faint tint due to botanicals or ageing.

Aromas and bouquet: Gently swirl in your glass to release its aromas. Bring the glass near to your nose and take a moment to inhale the scents deeply. Pay attention to the various botanicals and spices present. Are there notes of juniper, citrus, floral, or herbal elements? Take your time to identify the different layers of fragrance.

The first sip: Take a small sip and let the spirit coat your palate. Observe the initial flavours that hit your taste buds. Is it crisp, smooth, or intense? Pay attention to the balance between sweet, bitter, and acidic notes. Allow the flavours to unfold before proceeding to the next step.

Mouthfeel and texture: Notice the texture of your mouth. Is it light and delicate or full-bodied and creamy? Does it have a smooth or astringent finish? Consider the weight and viscosity of the spirit, as well as the presence of any lingering aftertaste.

Flavour development: Take another sip, and this time, focus on the evolving flavours. Are there any additional botanicals or spices that become more pronounced? Does the taste change over time, revealing new layers of complexity? Explore the interplay of flavours and how they interact with your senses.

Note-taking: It's helpful to jot down your observations throughout the tasting process. Use descriptive words to capture the gin's aromas, flavours, and overall impression. This will enhance your learning experience and be a reference for future tastings.


Gin tasting is an exciting and rewarding journey that allows you to explore the nuances and intricacies of this versatile spirit. Following this article's process, you can develop your palate, deepen your appreciation for the spirit, and embark on a lifelong exploration of its diverse flavours. Whether you prefer classic NZ gin or experimental small-batch offerings, the world of gin offers something for everyone. So raise your glass, savour the moment, and embark on your tasting adventure.

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