How to Tell a Good Gin

by X FLASKS September 28, 2016

How to Tell a Good Gin

Here at X FLASKS we love gin, and we’ve become pretty good at telling a good gin from a bad. In this guide we’re going to help you get a few steps closer to becoming a gin connoisseur yourself. Let’s get started!

One thing to note is that price is not a reflection of quality when it comes to gin. A higher price often just means that it’s more exclusive, or are handcrafted, or are only made in small quantities by a small company. Another thing to note is that gin doesn’t age like whiskey or wine, so the label won’t give us much information about its quality.

How to taste Gin

Put it in your mouth. Durr! (Oh aren’t we silly and whimsical). But seriously, tasting gin using the right method can help you decipher the flavours much more easily. 

There are a number of factors to consider when tasting gin, and a number of things you can do to aid your experience.

First of all, you’ve got to get the glass right. We recommend one with a stem, so your hand doesn’t warm the gin up, and one that curves inwards at the top, as it traps the smells and focuses them, allowing you to hone in on the flavours.

A glass like this should do nicely

Next, take note of the subtle colours in the gin. Hold it up to the light if you need to. Doing this will allow you to connect the colours of the gin to the smells when you’re choosing gin in the future.

If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy or doesn’t have much of a tolerance for the ‘burn’ of hard liquor, then add some water (1:1 to the gin - but no more). This will take away some of the sting so you can focus on the subtle flavours.

Have you ever seen people swirl their drink and wonder why they do it? What’s the point of it? Does it add anything or is it just something that makes you look like you know what you’re doing? Well actually there is a point to it - swirling your drink will add oxygen to it which will make it lighter. It also collects any residue close to the rim of the glass, so give it a swirl before you sip.

The next thing to do is smell the gin (don’t worry, we’ll get to actually drinking soon!). Give it a really good sniff and try to notice the different flavours, from the fruits to the spices, and as you try more and more types of gin, take note of the differences and your personal preferences.

Finally, it’s time to sip (hooray!). You should notice primarily the juniper flavours (since that’s the primary ingredient in gin), and then the subtle fruits and flavourings. Look at you, you expert, you.

The final verdict comes down to whether you like it or not. Since gin doesn’t age like whisky or wine, as we’ve mentioned, the markers for quality aren’t the same. It generally comes down to which combination of ingredients and flavours you prefer, but a better gin will be more flavoursome.

Types of Gin 

Now you know how you like your gin, here’s a little run down of the different types of gin and their general qualities, so you know what to buy or avoid when looking for gin to fill your X FLASK.

London Dry Gin - the most common type of gin - fairly neutral taste


New Western Style Gin - usually made with other flavours and can be more ‘interesting’ than other, more traditional gins

Old Tom Gin - usually sugar is added so it’s slightly sweeter

Sloe Gin - flavoured with blackthorn fruit to give it a reddish tinge and a fruitier flavour

So there you have it, our guide to gin. We hope you’ll use our tips when you’re trying and discovering new gins. Do let us know if we’ve been helpful on Twitter at @xflasks. Thanks for reading!



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