How much do you know about gin? I'm sure if you like to drink it then you know which your favourite brand is, but if you're like me, then not much more than that! I went to a gin tasting a couple of weeks ago at The Warwick in Soho, who've just had a refurb and have added a sparkly new Gin Emporium. I learnt so much about how to taste it, what to look for, and which gins they pair with different garnishes - a fascinating evening that I want to share with you.

Gin came to the UK from Holland in the 17th century and immediately became the drink of choice for many due to the fact that there was no tax on it, unlike other spirits. It has grown in popularity since then and has had a recent revival, with lots of small producers popping up due to the relative ease of making it.  I'm going to talk you through the botanicals used to create the flavours of the 8 gins we tried, as the lovely team at The Warwick did for us at the tasting.

We started with Portobello Road, which as you might've guessed, is made on Portobello Road, where you can go and make your own gin as well. It's made using botanicals including lemon, orange, nutmeg and liquorice, but if you go to the distillery you can make yours with whichever selection of botanicals you fancy. At the Warwick it's served as a gin and tonic with Fever Tree tonic (as all their G&Ts are) and with a ruby grapefruit garnish to bring out the citrus botanical flavours.

Second on the list was Berkeley Square gin - my favourite of the night. One of the oldest gin companies that we tried, this was made with basil, kaffir lime leaves, lavender, sage and a bouquet garni, all of which gave it a fresh herbal flavour. Garnished with basil leaves, it tasted really herbaceous in my G&T.


When tasting gin, we were given it straight but added water to expand the flavours. We also had a sip of water between each tasting to clear our palettes of the previous gin.

The third gin we tasted was Whitley Neill gin - a spirit inspired by Africa but made here in England. It's distilled with baobab (a fruit from the tree of life that's recently become popular as a superfood and is often found in healthy smoothies and juices), as well as cape gooseberry and physalis. It has a citrusy taste and is garnished with a twist of orange peel - the twisting releases the oils in the peel.

The majority of gin is around 40-42% ABV, but we tried a few gins that were stronger than that including the next one, Elephant Gin. This comes with my favourite gin story - each of the bottles is individually named after an elephant (ours was called Duke) and the company donates 15% of their profits to 2 different African elephant foundations - I love this, and as my mum loves elephants I though it was the loveliest background to the drink. They use 14 botanicals to create this 45% ABV gin, including dry mountain pine, ginger, baobab, apple and pimento. Elephant Gin is made in Germany and was one of the few non-UK gins we sampled, and is garnished with a slice of apple.

Fifth on the list was Sipsmith gin - brewed very locally to where I live, and by my distant cousin's husband, it was definitely one I was keen to learn more about. Again, they do distillery tours so you can go and see where it's all made for yourself. Using spicy juniper, lemon, coriander seed, ground almond, orange and more, Sipsmiths is the first gin made in copper distilleries in London for over 200 years. It's a dry but very drinkable gin, garnished at The Warwick with lemon and a vanilla pod. All the garnishes at The Warwick are used to pick out key flavours, but also enhance the flavours as when you sip (or glug) your G&T the garnish is by your nose, adding an extra sensory experience to the drink.

Next was another high ABV gin, this time it was Boodles, with an ABV of 45%. One of the newest gins we tried it's made with nutmeg, sage and rosemary amongst other botanicals, but does not use any citrus, which is quite unusual for gin. It has a woody taste and is garnished with a sprig of rosemary.

Just 2 more to go, our penultimate gin was Williams Chase. I'd heard of the brand as my brother had introduced me to their delicious marmalade and rhubarb flavoured vodkas, which their creator had made with potatoes he farmed and couldn't get a good enough deal for from supermarkets anymore. The gin is made with grains rather than potatoes and uses botanicals of hops, elderflower and bramley apples to create a really fresh fruity flavour. This is also served with an apple slice garnish and was the strongest gin we tasted at 48%, though funnily enough, it didn't taste that strong.

The last gin we tried was Hendrick's gin. This is made using cucumber as the main botanical, but also uses Bulgarian rose, chamomile and caraway, and is made by the same family who make Grants whisky in Scotland. It is a small batch gin (as many that we tried were) meaning only 450 litres are made at a time, and is garnished with cucumber at The Warwick. I don't know what it is about cucumber in drinks and cocktails but I really love  it and think it refreshes a drink very well.

So there you have it - 8 gins, all with such a variety of taste, flavours and complexity. You can try them all at The Warwick's Gin Emporium, though maybe not all in one night! When Winston Churchill said "the gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen's lives and minds than all doctors in the empire" I don't think he was referring to 8 in a night!



  1. I used to frequent The Warwick loads as I worked around the corner, when did they have a refurb? I'll have to go and check it out. I actually ended up there on one of my first dates with The Gentleman!

    Katie <3

    1. Ah cute!!! :) I think it's been refurbed in the last couple of months, was great when we went there. I used to go as well after work when I worked in Soho, many bleary nights there!!

      R xx


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