Marcia Waters - Master of Wine

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Marcia Waters

Gin blending

February 15th 2016

Recently I bought a gift for a gin loving friend to go to the Ginstitute in Portobello Road to learn all kinds of things about gin. Clearly I wanted to go to for the fun and because I'm interested in drink, but more importantly, I'm interested in all things to do with flavour, and especially putting flavours together. Describing smells isn't easy so it's good to learn how other professionals put words to the sensations of smell and taste and it's great how we all have our own industry shorthands or accepted descriptors. Actually gin making has a wider repertoire of flavours than wine, because you can add infusions from a huge range of botanicals, citrus, herb, spice, roots, grasses, vegetables, weeds. Ephemeral, contemporary, bite, and solid were some words used, and my notes included firey, miky, and soggy. The principal of a progression of flavours was one I recognised from describing wine and although we don't see angelica, Lapsang Souchong, celery seed, cassia bark, avocado, cayenne pepper or horny goat weed in wine, I felt familiar with a surprising overlap of tastes and smells with wine descriptions. Now I'll start using oris root for that straw smell; coriander for the forest floor; gentian root for mineral or slate and galangal for herb garden. I'll be looking out for these shorthands for my tasting notes, trying hard not to force them into wine tastes if they aren't really there of course! It's all part of the fascination of learning from other tasters about their own particular experiences and repertoire.
My own recipe gin definitely needs making into a Tom Collins for the best effect, while my friend's tasted like a G&T all by itself. Feel sure I'll be back at Portobello Rd creating another blend as soon as this one is drunk.

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