OMGD Finland Gin & Tonic Tasting
Bailliage of Helsinki
Helsinki, October 13, 2015
Members share an evening of Gin & Tonic and some history

Bailliage of Helsinki members got to see, hear, smell and taste the history of gin – along with some tonic!

Twenty connoisseurs received a crash course in the history of gin presented by spirits expert Michael Grönfors who is Portfolio Manager with Beverage Partners Finland.

During the evening different types of gin and gin cocktails were tasted and at the end everybody had a chance to mix their preferred version of Gin & Tonic.

DUTCH COURAGE

It is one of the ironies of history that gin – perhaps the most English of all spirits – originated in Holland. Genever became popular among British nobility during the reign of William of Orange who brought it to England from his native land. Due to its origins and the bravery of Dutch soldiers, Genever was also known as “Dutch courage”.

In the early 1700s Protestant England was in conflict with Catholic France. The importation of French brandy was banned so the production of a domestic spirit, gin, was encouraged. This succeeded so well that soon the nation was flooded with cheap gin of inferior quality and government was forced to take counter measures to end the Gin Craze!

Quality improved and a “Dry” gin was first manufactured in London with the style becoming innovatively known as “London Dry”.

TONIC

In India there was the danger of malaria. Quinine was the only known medicine. It worked, but tasted terrible. To improve the taste it was often taken with water, sugar and lime. In 1858 Indian Tonic water (made by Erasmus Bond) appeared on the market simplifying the preparation. It was not long before some unknown expat on the sub-continent came up with the idea of combining gin with the new “medicine” – and the rest is history.

SOME OF THE DRINKS WE TASTED

Genever: the aromas of yeast resulting from pot still distillation were quite evident on the nose – similar to Italian grappa. On the palate there was certain maltiness. Overall it was something of an acquired taste.

Pink Gin: 1.5 ounces of gin (Hendrick’s) with 2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters - the symbol of British colonialism according to Graham Greene & Somerset Maugham. It is an excellent drink that calls for a high quality gin. The bitters add a certain sophistication to the aroma and give the drink its delicate, pink hue.

Hendrick’s Gin: the fastest growing gin brand in the world we were told. Made in Scotland by using two distinctly different stills (pot still and Carter-Head still), whose spirits with addition of cucumber and rose petal essence are blended together to produce Hendrick’s. An easy drinking, refreshing gin which is ideal for making a delicious gin and tonic.

Hendrick’s Gin and Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water: a match made in Heaven. Fever-Tree is considered by many the best Tonic Water on the market – and for a good reason. These two balanced each other admirably. Although Hendrick’s recommends use of cucumber, we opted to use traditional lime as the garnish just to be sure that we got neither malaria nor scurvy!

Petteri Harjula
Sommelier

Photos by Stana Porvali, Vice Chargée de Presse