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Gin-Note™ Flavour guidance – an introduction

Justin Hicklin

A framework and consumer aid to discovery and understanding

A Gin Guild proposal to provide consistent guidance on gin flavour for consumers, retailers, bartenders, media. etc

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 (‘Gin-Note’) is designed to allow consumers, retailers and others to benefit from access, across a wide range of gins, to a standard flavour summary of each of those gin brands, prepared by a brand themselves, using a fixed and consistent framework, alongside their own branding descriptions, to inform, educate and guide those seeking to explore the category.

The flavour guidance initiative aims to create a working and consistent categorisation that, on the one hand 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 (even) just based on bottle design, and, on the other hand, that allows consumers, retailers and others, an improved ability to better gauge the flavour profile of a gin product, regardless of botanical content or production methodology.

The Gin Guild only recognises and permits use of Gin-Note™ to describe distilled gin made fully in accordance with the EU Spirit Regulations so far as they apply to gin from time to time.

Gin-Note™ is designed to help brands to communicate the unique characteristics of their gins. It consists of the following parts:

  1. Gin-Note™ visual – a visual representation of the general characteristics of a gin (scored by the brand concerned); read together with
  2. 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
  3. Two words (selected by the brand itself from a list/template of recognised and standard keywords) allowing mouth-feel/palate/intensity to be reflected, so as to provide users with a complete picture of the gin.

Gin-Note™ is designed to quickly communicate the character of a gin in an easy-to-understand, visual way. It 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 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.