A beGINner's guide to gin - Part 1

So one of the things that I often hear when I tell (or is it bore? lol) people about a new gin that I've tried, or a festival that I'm going to, is "Don't all gins just taste the same?" and of the course the simple answer is ... absolutely not!

To the uninitiated, most people's impression of a Gin & Tonic is Gordon's gin served from an optic on the gantry & being asked "ice & a slice?"

Well, it's time to ditch the Gordon's and jars of sliced lemons and get yourself acquainted with some decent gins which don't have to cost the earth.

One good place to start in my opinion is NOT your local supermarket - in fact, it's not any shop ... instead, get yourself down to your local JD Wetherspoons. They have a fantastic selection of gins in their Gin Palace as well as local variations across each pub. This will allow you to try some premium quality gins at an extremely low price to determine what kind of gins you like without even making the commitment of buying a single bottle yet.

At the moment, the current gins available nationwide are:

Tanqueray No. Ten

Not to be confused with the 'standard' Tanqueray gin, No. Ten is more citrus based and should be served with a slice of pink grapefruit to enhance the flavour:

PS - ignore the marketing blurb about "small batch", it's nothing of the sort - check out my #Ginspiration posts for true small batch gins


Sipsmith began in 2009, in a workshop in Hammersmith, London, where they set up London’s first traditional copper distillery since 1820. Their mission was simple: to bring London Dry Gin of truly uncompromising quality and character. Every bottle of Sipsmith is hand-crafted in genuinely small batches from one of the 3 stills: Prudence, Patience & Constance.

Portobello Road

Portobello Road is  an old-style London Dry Gin distilled in London using 9 traditional botanicals & spices (juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and nutmeg)

This too should be served with a slice of grapefruit


Broker's is another London Dry Gin. It has won more top awards over the past 10 years in International competitions than any other Gin. Ten traditional botanicals are used and quadruple distillation in a copper pot

Garnish with a slice of lime


Now a worldwide brand , Hendricks is a true Scottish gin success story. Their wacky Edwardian-era marketing always manages to catch the eye, and you've maybe heard about their famous gin teapots & cups?

I'll do another post shortly on how to go about procuring these - but anyway, back to the gin!

It started being produced by William Grant Grant & Sons at a time when gin wasn’t the diverse, thriving category it is today and one of it's primary components (as I hope you know if you've been reading my other posts!) is cucumber, which is the obligatory garnish.

Makar Glasgow Gin

I mentioned at the start of this post that Wetherspoons feature some different gins at individual bars,but if you visit any in Glasgow then you will come across Makar Glasgow Gin

Makar is a vibrant distinctive handcrafted gin that derives its name from the ancient Scots word for Poet, and is the first gin ever to be distilled in Glasgow (in the salubrious surroundings of Hillington Industrial Estate! lol)

The bottle is a seven-sided art-deco style classic:

If you decide to try Makar then this is where you are truly going to start expanding your gin knowledge - it has a slightly spicy taste to it, and should always be garnished with a slice of green chilli!

This gin is one of my personal favourites and I will be doing a future post outlining the new variants that are now available.

Anyway, I hope that this post has tempted you to start considering being adventous & to consider ordering a gin next time you're out with friends at a Wetherspoons.

Look out for forthcoming posts to further expand your knowledge of gin:

Part 2 - Your local gin bar
Part 3 - Tonic (or not?)
Part 4 - The supermarket
Part 5 - Specialist retailers
Part 6 - Subscription services