How to Match Gin with Tonics - A guide to using our Gin Wheel

So, you’ve decided to have your friends over for a gin tasting evening – great! You’ve got the tumblers, the ice, the tonic, the lime, a selection of garnishes, and a selection of gins – but now what? How do you actually ‘taste’ gin? How do you describe what you’re tasting rather than just saying “this tastes fruity” or “this tastes citrusy”? How do you recognise your herbaceous notes from your floral notes?

As children we are taught to recognise and describe colours and shapes, but we’re not taught to accurately describe flavours – rather than the basic sweet, sour, or spicy. Educating your palate and articulating those nuanced notes is a skill that takes practice.

This is where the gin flavour wheel comes in. 

CLINK gin garnish wheel

Gin wheels are concentric circle diagrams which help you identify the main gin flavour profiles.

In general, gins fall into six main flavour profiles, and these are usually listed in the centre.

  • Juniper – very traditional with strong juniper flavours
  • Floral – lighter and sweeter flavours with subtle juniper notes
  • Spicy – rich spices give these gins a warm finish
  • Fruity – bursting with rich fruit flavours, while retaining juniper notes
  • Herbaceous – earthy herb notes are present in these more savoury gins
  • Citrus – fresh and clean, the citrus notes are clear in these gin types

The second outer circle contains reference points for flavour descriptions such as peppery, pungent, tangy, perfumed, and savoury (among others) then the third outer circle further identifies specific flavours such as nutmeg, maple, fennel, rhubarb, thyme, vanilla, and liquorice (among others).

Gin wheels, and their vocabulary, are intended to help gin tasters identify and describe the flavours they are tasting and give accurate descriptions of these flavours. By knowing what you are tasting you can pick the perfect accompaniments. For example, a herbal gin would match well with a garnish of basil, or rosemary, a spiced gin would match well with clove or black pepper, a floral tasting gin would be a match made in heaven with an elderflower tonic.

Using a gin wheel will help you to name the aromas and flavours you’re tasting and encourage you to try other brands with similar flavour profiles, or even identify brands with completely different flavours that you wouldn’t have considered trying before.

Or just use the gin wheel to impress your friends! Having even a basic knowledge of the different taste profiles of gin is always a good thing and experts say having some prior knowledge will only enhance your enjoyment of gin.

Check back in with us for further tips and advice, and recommendations on our favourite up and coming products.

Happy gin tasting from the team at CLINK!