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Gin: An Education

Prof. Katherine Smart

Group Chief Brewer, SABMiller plc Deputy President of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling

This Presentation:

  • History, Styles, Categories and Provenance of Gin
  • Gin Quality Assurance and Control
  • Gin Appreciation
  • Creating Master Distillers, Herbalists / Botanists and Distilling Scientists of The Future
  • Future Thinking – Accessing The Science of Gin

History, Styles, Categories and Provenance of Gin

Style Typical Character Style Requirements

London Dry Juniper, citrus No georgraphical constraint. predominate All botanicals must added during distillation. Limited sweetening permitted

Plymouth Juniper, citrus but Can only be made in Plymouth earthier and sweeter

Navy Strength London Dry London Dry at higher ABV (57%)

Genever / Sweet, malty, Malt (Ould Genever must have Jenever whisky notes, 15%), Barley, Rye mash oak aged converted to malt wine which is distilled

Old Tom Sweet (liquorice, Can vary widely – believed to be cane sugar) the interim progression from Genever to London Dry

Grape Based Juniper, floral Xoriguer’s gin must be made in notes Mahon, Menorca, Spain. Grape (not grain) derived, short time aged in oak

Distilled Juniper (light), Distilled but additional (& New) floral, herbal, flavourings (natural / artificial) spicy, lead note may be added after distillation such as cucumber

Gin Unconstrained Alcohol is not re-distilled and flavours, sweeteners can be added

A Potential Quality Definition For Gin
Raw Materials Governance Irrespective of Style, Quality is Essential.

A gin that is responsibly produced using wholesome ingredients, consistent production techniques and good manufacturing practices, which exhibits flavour characteristics that are consistently aligned with both the Distiller’s and Gin Drinker’s expectations.

K Smart Copyright


  • Organised System
    • Ensures specifications and production practices are met from raw materials to product
  • Evolve to Include Best Practice
    • Quality Control to Quality


  • Structure
    • Policies, Specifications and Procedures
    • Processes (routine and crisis)
    • Tools (analytical to reporting)
    • Resources

Raw materials governance

  • Specifications
    • Ensures the raw materials you source meet your requirements
    • Attribute
    • Metric
    • Unit
    • Value
  • Supplier Accreditation
    • Do they have a quality system and manual?
    • Supplier agreement
    • Audits

Process Governance

  • Standard Distilling and Blending Operating Procedures
    • Ensures that each process step conforms to the capacity / capability of the vessel / unit whilst meeting your process and final product requirements
    • Ensures those operating each process understand what needs to be done, when and how but also why
    • Allows for the flex when needed for processes for product mix or operational changes
  • Key Performance Indicators
    • Assesses key processes for conformance to operating procedures and plan
    • Confirms where in a process we need to test for compliance

Product Governance

  • Product Specification
    • True To Style and Brand
    • Compliant with Market Regulations
    • Compliant with Company Policy
    • Authenticity
  • Consumer Quality Attributes
    • Nose
    • Taste
    • Colour
    • Clarity
    • Pack Quality

Product Governance and Gin Appreciation

  • Why is a Taste System Needed
    • Ensuring “Trueness To Type”
    • Consistency of Product
    • Fault Detection
    • Competitor Testing
  • Establish a taste system
    • Basic Fault Detection Taste System
    • Advanced Product Profile Taste System
    • Make It Quantitative
    • Validate your tasters

Creating Distillers, Master Distillers and Herbalists

  • For Key Consumer Facing Roles
    • WSET Level 1 and Level 2 In Spirits
  • For Distilling and Quality
    • Institute of Brewing and Distilling
    • Fundamentals of Distilling (Operator)
    • Certificate in Distilling (Operator)
    • Certificate In Packaging (Operator)
    • Diploma in Distilling (Distiller)
    • Diploma in Packaging (Packaging Leader)
    • Master Distiller (New for 2016)
    • Heriot Watt University
    • BSc and MSc in Brewing and Distilling
  • For Herbalists / Botanists
    • Limited Options
    • Beware Phytotherapy Courses (Medicinal Courses) University of Nottingham (Food Flavour and Sensory Courses)

Highest Level of Distilling Qualifications

  • Master Distiller Qualification
  • Awarding Body: Institute of Brewing and Distilling
    • Module 1: Materials and Wort Production
    • Module 2: Fermentation and Distilling
    • Module 3: Packaging of Spirits
    • Module 4: Resource Management and Regulatory Compliance
    • Module 5: Practical Project (8,000-10,000 words)

PhD, MRes In Distilling

  • Awarding Body: University of Nottingham and Heriot Watt University (PhD only)
    • Original Research and a thesis. Full or Part Time
    • Publications and Presentations At Congresses

Future Thinking – Accessing The Science of Gin


  • Delivering quality requires dedicated systems, practices and resource.
  • Consumers remember poor quality experiences and don’t return.
  • In this age of digital social engagement a consumer experience (good and not so good) can be instantly shared.
  • The Future of Gin is dependent on quality
  • Education of Distillers, Packaging Leaders, Scientists and Consumer and Customer Facing Employees is Critical For The Success of Gin