Gin has had quite a renaissance in recent years. The proof is in the stats — white spirit sales increased by over two million litres between 2014 and 2019, with gin sales accounting for a large portion of the growth. The COVID-19 pandemic has also propelled its popularity amongst Aussie consumers, with a Roy Morgan survey revealing that 8% of Australians had consumed gin at least once in the previous four weeks.

Despite its newfound popularity, gin still seems to divide drinkers. While it makes for the perfect cocktail base, gin’s distinct flavour can startle even the most adventurous drinkers. According to Bombay Sapphire’s Brand Ambassador, Joseph Chisholm, gin derives its flavour from juniper, which gives it a “distinctive piney and floral flavour”.

Given gin-focused bars seem to be popping up everywhere, and homemade cocktails are now permanent in our lives, here’s how Joseph recommends serving gin if you’re yet to hop on-board the train.

What are the best ways to start introducing gin to your tastebuds if you’re not used to the flavour?

According to Joseph, the fizzy, bitter taste of tonic water may be the reason most people don’t like gin. So instead, he recommends starting with a refreshing yet straightforward gin and soda to ease into the spirit.

Joseph also recommends Wet Gin Martinis and Southsides as great gin-cocktails to start with, as well as the vapour infused gin of Bombay Sapphire to try as well, if you’re not so acquainted with the flavour of the spirit yet.

“The light infusion of flavour allows bartenders to stir their creativity and create delicious cocktails. My favourite would have to be the new Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru, which is a single vintage of Murcia Lemons,” he added.

What are the different kinds of gin and how are they distinct in taste?

Once you’ve developed your taste for gin, branching out and trying something a little different is probably the next step. Much like other white spirits, gin comes in a variety of forms that are all distinct in taste — here are the main five to shake up your cocktail making.

  • London Dry: A gin that has a general juniper-forward taste impression and not any specific process or ingredient list.
  • Distilled Gin: A gin that is based on the same 96% ABV alcohol but needs to be distilled again after adding the botanicals. “Either the botanicals are placed in the alcohol and distilled directly from there, or alternatively, a basket with the botanicals is placed above the base alcohol. It is possible to mix different distillates of the same nature to create a distilled gin,” said Joseph.
  • Compound Gin: A gin where the botanicals are added through maceration without distillation.
  • Plymouth Gin: A gin that can only be made in Plymouth, England. Unlike its counterpart London Dry Gin, which can be distilled anywhere in the world, Plymouth Gin is incredibly restricted to this southern port city that is located 190 miles from London. “This version resembles London Dry Gin but it’s drier and has earthier elements. It’s also a bit sweeter with more citrus flavours,” said Joseph, explaining what makes it so unique.
  • Sloe Gin: A gin (that’s not a spirit, instead a liquer), made with Sloe berries which are from the family of plums, and is less alcoholic and sweeter than other gins. “The colour of Sloe Gin is bright red, unlike gin which is transparent. Sloe Gin is manufactured by adding or infusing the gin with sloe berries,” said Joseph.

Given the vast array of gins available (and the many ways to serve it that don’t involve tonic water), there’s no need to shy away from the spirit if you’re not a mixologist.