G&T Taste Testing by a Gin Virgin (Part 1)

I’m new to all this gin lark, if I’m totally honest.  I wasn’t really interested.  Wine is more my thing – I definitely know what I like when it comes to wine.  I even go to those wine tasting evenings at my local Majestic now and then, and if I’m honest I feel a little uncomfortable at those.

My wine journey is a simple one, and probably very similar to yours.  My favourites have come about based on trial and error, supermarket special offers and a few recommendations from friends whose opinions I trust.  Why do I feel uncomfortable at the wine tasting evenings?  It’s because of the small number of people who also attend who try to belittle my comments.  I really should pay no attention, and they really should not grimace when I explain I like a particular wine because I drink it in the bath with a bag of Galaxy Counters.

When a friend persuaded me to try gin, I was a little apprehensive.  All this talk of juniper and botanicals was getting me in a bit of a flap.  I have no idea what they are at all!  If I didn’t know better, I’d assume someone was actually describing shower gel and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’ve tried to educate myself a bit, try a few different gins.  It wasn’t until a neighbour questioned the mixer I was using that I realised how uninformed I was when it came to gin drinking.  When I sheepishly confessed to using diet lemonade as a mixer, he was so disgusted he later left 2 bottles of Fever Tree tonic water on my doorstep.

That was the moment I realised that a gin needs the right mixer, and the gin to mixer ratio is also important, but also totally to your own taste.  The mixer can make or break the gin, or take it to a whole new level.

The first gin I tried was Pink Mermaid – a bit of a gamble as it’s not cheap and I ordered online.  This was recommended by a friend who was initially seduced by the bottle!  The bottle is beautiful, I have to admit, with the empty one now looking just as gorgeous stuffed full of LED fairy lights.

Mermaid Gin is made on the Isle of Wight, so I liked the cute nautical theme going on.  Pink Mermaid is also still my favourite so far, and please don’t be put off trying it if you have tried other flavoured gins and not liked them.  Unlike other flavoured gins that can tase a bit synthetic, this actually tastes of delicious fresh strawberries.

Image: The Isle of Wight Distillery

This is the one I was also mixing with diet lemonade, with the addition of a stack of ice-cubes, slices of lime and fresh strawberries.  It was an absolutely delicious and refreshing combo, but did not impress my neighbour, hence the door-step Fever Tree.

I was going to buy some more Fever Tree and experiment with flavours, but struggled to find some small bottles.  There was a high chance I could buy something I would not like.  Being wasteful does not sit well with me.  Then my search engine came up trumps and I found Double-Dutch mixers.  On their website I found an excellent box of mixers called an Exploration Pack.  Now there was the perfect opportunity to experiment!

And that was how I ended up here, doing a taste test for So Just Be – this is my journey of discovery, if you like.  I can’t tell you about the nose, and you certainly won’t read the kind of review you’d expect to see in a weekend newspaper.  But I’m honest, I’m new to all this and I’m doing my best.

So here we go … Part 1 of my Gin Discovery Taste Test …

This taste test took in 5 random gins, bought online and in supermarkets, plus 3 of the mixers chosen at random from the Double-Dutch Exploration pack.

The 5 gins for the test were:

The 3 Double-Dutch mixers chosen at random were:

  • Indian tonic
  • Cucumber & Watermelon Tonic Water
  • Ginger Beer

An interesting mix of mixers, with some possibly resembling a ‘I’m A Celeb Bush Tucker Trial’, but I was up for the challenge.  I also needed to come up with a grading system and give these combos some kind of rating.  The So Just Be ‘Bee Rating’ was perfect with a little adjustment … the more bees, the more we like them.  But the main point of these reviews is to provide you with something you can relate to, if you too are on the early stages of your gin journey.  Our ratings are:

  • 1 Bee – We didn’t like the combo at all
  • 2 Bees – You might like it, but we were unsure
  • 3 Bees – If you were given this combo at a party, you’d be polite enough to drink it.  Possibly go back for another.  Similarly, if you didn’t have much in the gin cupboard at home, it would hit the spot.
  • 4 Bees – Lovely.  Happy to make again and rather enjoyed it
  • 5 Bees – Wowzers!  What a great combo!  Who knew?  Maybe too good to share …

So here it is – Part 1 of my So Just Be Gin Taste Test, assisted by my lovely barman, Mr SJB …

That Boutique-y Gin Company: Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin

  • Indian Tonic

The first thing that hits you is the smell – instant hit of ripe pineapple, followed by a can of Lilt. 1980s Lilt … hot summer day, cold Lilt … mmmm
Neat? The label said try it neat, so we did. Oh my goodness! That was amazing.
With the tonic? Super fresh. Sweet and sour. Lovely balance of flavours. Perfect for a sunny day.

  • Cucumber & Water Melon

Not as bad as it sounds, but not great.  You can still taste the Watermelon.  For some this might be a happy accident.

  • Ginger Beer

We call Ginger Beer ‘spikey drink’ in our house.  It’s the way it tickles your throat.  You probably need more gin with this combo, otherwise it overpowers the pineapple.

Mirabeau: Rosé Gin

  • Indian Tonic

Didn’t work for us at all, which was surprising.

  • Cucumber & Water Melon

Wasn’t expecting this to work at all, but it was actually rather nice.  Had a kind of Pimms feeling about it.  Give it a go!

  • Ginger Beer

Wasn’t brave enough to try.  Didn’t want to waste this lovely gin.  We aren’t that daft, you know!

Isle of Wight Distillery: Mermaid Pink Gin

  • Indian Tonic

This was like a bitter strawberry sherbet.  But if I’m honest, I prefer the lemonade.

  • Cucumber & Water Melon

I would never have tried this and I’m so glad I did!  The smell was divine and the combination was lovely.

  • Ginger Beer

Cough medicine.  Don’t do it.  I don’t know why I even tried this combo.

JJ Whitley: Pink Cherry Gin

  • Indian Tonic

You would happily drink this gin neat.  Combined with this particular mixer, it’s not good.  Like a bit of washing up liquid was left in the glass.

  • Cucumber & Water Melon

Another unexpectedly nice combo.  Fresh.  Reminded us of a really good cucumber sandwich.

  • Ginger Beer

Tasted like old fashioned boiled sweets and smelt like a Wham bar.  If that’s your thing, this is your winning combo.

Sipsmith: Lemon Drizzle

  • Indian Tonic

Nice. But safe and a little boring.  Like an alcoholic bitter lemon.  Not very exciting.

  • Cucumber & Water Melon

With lots of ice and a nice garnish, this would be OK.

  • Ginger Beer

A good combo.  They really go well with each other, but I’m not a lover of ginger beer.  The lemon and ginger really compliment each other.  You might like it – Mr SJB did!

And there we have it … Part 1 of my Gin Taste Test, and what a lovely afternoon it was. Personally Mr SJB and myself can’t wait to try these gins with the rest of the mixers in the Double-Dutch Exploration Pack.  It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!

Let us know what strange and delightful gin/mixer combos you have created – we’d love to hear from you. See you soon for Part 2 …


Published by So Just Be

Switch off the day and So Just Be

%d bloggers like this: