Gin-Note™ flavour guidance – a note for brand owners

A note for brand owners on Gin-Note (the Gin Guild Flavour Guidance frame work), what it is for, how to use it and (inevitably) the terms and conditions!

The Gin Guild, an international not for profit member funded gin industry body, promotes and encourages commitment to excellence in gin distillation and industry custodianship of the spirit category, and seeks to lead the world of Gin, and to celebrate and promote excellence in its production and sale.

With a significant growth in the number of distilleries producing gins there are now a growing number of gin styles and tastes that people are asked to navigate.

The Gin Guild flavour guidance initiative is designed to allow brands themselves to use a fixed and consistent framework, along side their own branding descriptions, to inform and educate and guide those seeking to explore the category.

The flavour guidance initiative creates a working and consistent categorisation that allows brand owners to readily define their gin within prescribed parameters allowing description and differentiation from the proud distillers themselves, other than merely selling based on pure marketing ‘puff’ or based on bottle design.

Gin-Note Graphic

The Gin Guild sets out the standard template framework and consistent application methodology. It is up to brands themselves to apply the framework to their products to allow comparison and to educate and inform those using the representation to guide them as to the gin content.

Brands themselves complete a simple return on-line. That return will be automatically/mathematically converted into the relevant gin graphic.

Both the gin graphic and brand specific wording on the Guild website will be the sole responsibility of the individual brand. This will be also made clear on the Guild website.

The layouts are presented as either a bottleneck ‘label’ or a shelf note (which can also be deployed in printed material such as reviews and guides etc.).


Gin-Note takes the form of a graphic bar chart with key. The bar chart, with scope for integration of key botanicals, was found, due to its simplicity and horizontal format, to be well-received and easily comprehended and is flexible for deployment.

The format includes use of an element comprising a two word descriptor set adjacent to the Gin-Note graphic image covering ‘intensity’. This element relies on word based descriptors rather than numerical/scored representation so as to eliminate the possibility of some brands being perceived (as against others), as ‘weak’, i.e. with a negative image, if ‘low scored’ in this segment. Use of a limited lexicon of words to be applied to this element ensures that a standard approach and consistent terminology.


Given the price-led purchasing drivers, the target market and users in the first instance we have in our minds when considering the use etc. is likely to be the (more) informed (premium product purchasing), consumer, gin-enthusiast, as well as direct use and application by bar-tenders and retailers.

The Gin-Note graphic is designed to help brands to communicate the unique characteristics of their gins.

It consists of the following parts:

  1. Gin-Note Graphic – a visual representation of the general characteristics of a gin (scored by the brand concerned);

read together with

  1. Brand Description – a 20 word brand supplied free-hand prose description of a gin, allowing the brand to provide a more detailed picture using their established brand message; and
  2. Two words (to be selected by the brand itself from a list/template of recognised and standard keywords to be developed) allowing mouth-feel/palate/intensity to be reflected so as to provide users with a rounded picture of the gin.

All of the above can be shown by way of shelf edge signage, or bottle neck label or replicated in printed or on line media, allowing informed gin choice.

Elements of the Gin-Note graphic

The gin graphic is designed to quickly communicate the character of a gin in an easy-to-understand, visual way.

The graphic is divided into six different segments, each one representing a different aspect of a gin’s character.

They are:

  • Juniper: green, resinous notes of juniper berries; can be broken down to include spruce, pine needles, cedar, pine, etc.
  • Citrus: bright, zingy and zesty; the flavours commonly associated with citrus fruit such as lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit, but also including the citrus character of botanicals such as coriander, lemongrass, verbena, etc.
  • Spice: including both sweet spice, e.g. cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, cardamom, clove; and savoury spice, e.g. cumin, pepper and ginger.
  • Herbal: herbal, leafy notes, both dried and fresh, including basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, fennel, etc.
  • Fruit: capturing the plump, fruity character of a gin beyond citrus. Includes notes of berries (strawberry, raspberry, etc.), stone fruit (cherry, plum, peach, etc.) and any other fruit.
  • Floral: perfumed characteristics of flowers such as rose, violet, orange blossom, lavender.

Each of the six segments covers a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest.

A gin is then given a rating (by the brand owner), for each segment. For example, a bold, citrusy gin would have high values for intensity and citrus.

The total sum of the values for each segment for a single gin (i.e. when the values of all six segments are added together) cannot exceed 30. For example, it would not be possible to rate a gin ‘10’ for every segment (10 for citrus, 10 for herbal, etc.), as this would give the gin a sum total of 60. Brands do not need to use all 30 points (several brands in application have found that their ideal graphic representation does not need them to allocate all the points.



Useful links:

Gin-Note™ – an introduction
Gin-Note™ Graphic Conditions of Use
Submit a Gin-Note™ entry