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Why do so many people hate Gin?

As a former Gin hater, I can understand it's bad rap. People say it tastes like christmas tree. I counter that you really haven't enjoyed it. I started enjoying it when I sniffed it like a fine wine and inhaled the botanicals. I know many of friends that have had bad run ins in their teens with Gin or given it up because of cheap Gin. Or really haven't had a nice Gin cocktail. So explain to me why Gin, which I sometimes refer to as vodka for grown ups. Is so disparaged? Me, I want to get all cool obscure, craft Gin I see.

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  1. Gin is a bit of an acquired taste. As we mature, we appreciate food and drink with more depth. Things that were unpalatable in youth and early adulthood, take on an interesting flavor and feel as we grow older. Other examples of this might include complex cheeses and fermented foods.

    The bad rap may come from simply a lack of appreciation of complexity or just, as you say, drinking too much of it at too early an age.

    Having lived in a British Colony, I grew accustomed to the ever popular Pimms. A great GNT really does hit the spot on a warm day. Bombay Sapphire Gin is the one to chose.

    A twist of lime might be an appropriate addition on a warm day.

    Vodka is a truly tasteless spirit. Perhaps that is why we now see so many flavors. Why not just have good Stolichnaya vodka and add fruit and fruit juice is my approach.

    Gin, in contrast, requires no flavored mixer. In fact, it would truly be a waste to add anything fruity or flavorful as it is the complex botanical medley that gives gin it's unique flavor

    That 'christmas tree' taste that you refer to is the juniper berries that contribute to the herbal blend.

    Juniper berries are a strong medicinal, kidney stimulant and even have psychoactive powers.

    Taken sparingly and properly, in the appropriate small doses, Juniper berries have a strongly cleansing property. They have been used to cure diabetes, arthritis, constipation, depression, and many chronic difficult conditions for many centuries by many cultures throughout the northern hemisphere. With strong antiseptic properties, they are one of earth's oldest medicines.

    The complex resins of Juniper berries are difficult for modern chemistry to characterize.

    Feed some Juniper berries to the birds and watch how they respond and fly even higher and happier!

    19 Replies
    1. re: Dr. Edna Williams

      I love gin and juice it gives a kick that vodka doesn't have.

      1. re: Dr. Edna Williams

        YAYME -- it's great to see you liking gin. It seems you appreciate more challenging flavors that when you first started posting here!

        I was with Dr. Williams until the part about mixing with gin. I think gin stands up just fine to flavorful ingredients. The Negroni contains two powerhouses -- Campari and sweet vermouth. I assure you that the individual character of the gin comes through, even in the classic 1:1:1 ratio, much less the leaner ratios some prefer.

        As for juniper curing baldness and balancing the federal budget, I await double-blind peer-reviewed studies. ;)

        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          Well, I'm 72 and have all my hair! As for double-blind studies, that's what happens if I dare have a second martini …

          1. re: Will Owen

            Whoa, maybe I need to drink more gin.

            Probably not. The cause of hair loss is elsewhere, I think.

          2. re: EvergreenDan

            To my tongue vodka has bags of flavour. Perhaps the issue is not with people drnking gin at too earlier an age, but people completely ruining their pallette to the point that the sense of taste is almost numb and those that appreciate it from the off with no perception of the flavour of vodka, well I think the two issues go hand in hand. It;s down to an insesetivity caused by a dulling of the senses usually through abuse of food, drink, drugs, caffeine and tobacco.

            Whilst this dulling might be a requirement for people to filter out the unpleasantness inherent in gin and to get to the heart of the juniper flavours, it should not be read as a nuanced appreciation, just as someone going blind has a greater appreciation of colour over detail. The gin lover and the visual depreciation which aloows less to be sensed is a genuine handicap.

            1. re: Namothy

              So you are more refined than me because you prefer vodka and I prefer gin?

              1. re: jpc8015

                Don't bother. Ir's some 1 hit wonder trolling and never to be heard from again.

              2. re: Namothy

                Bags of flavor in vodka? "Filter out" the unpleasantness inherent in gin? Interesting perspective, indeed! If I did not know better, I would think your post needed to be made in "irony font."

            2. re: Dr. Edna Williams

              My dog loves juniper berries. I assume they are a close relative to the ones used to flavor Gin. Right now they are all over the ground. Every time we go on a walk, he eats all that i will let him. He also eats Mustang grapes, which are really sour.
              Here in Texas, we call juniper cedar. Don't ask me why.
              Anyway, do you think these juniper berries are doing him any harm? He certainly doesn't suffer from constipation.

              1. re: TroyTempest

                Are you sure those aren't cedar berries? They are a different thing. I have several types of juniper, as well as cedar berries, in my botanical library.

                1. re: JMF

                  It is ashe juniper, Juniperus ashei.

                  From the website listed below:
                  Ashe juniper is a small, many-stemmed tree found in rocky limestone soil from central to west Texas. It is the dominant juniper of the Texas Hill Country, and is usually referred to as cedar.


                  Note: I have eaten these, and when ripe they do taste like gin.

                  1. re: TroyTempest

                    Interesting. It made me go look what the latin name is for the "cedar berries" I have, Juniperus monosperma, so not cedar either, but "One Seed Juniper."

                    Now it means I have to do some more research. My life motto has become, "Never take things for granted."

                    1. re: JMF

                      let us know what you find out. And, if you find this out, how interchangeable these juniper are with the type that are used for cooking, flavoring gin, etc.
                      I'm wondering if i eat some of these juniper berries if my body will somehow build up a tolerance, because this year the "cedar fever" is kicking my butt.

                      1. re: TroyTempest

                        I always suffered during my decade-plus in West Texas ...

                        1. re: hawkeyeui93

                          This year we are supposedly setting records. I has never bothered me before. But now, man it is.

                2. re: TroyTempest

                  I don't know about the juniper berries, but I do know that grapes are toxic to dogs, so I would definitely keep my dog away from those Mustang Grapes.

                  1. re: brandygirl

                    Wow, I never would have known. And according to wikipedia, this is real(not that i doubted you, brandygirl). I used to feel better about him eating the grapes than some of the other stuff he found along our walks, such as deer pellets, evidently they are a labrador delicacy, but not now.


                    1. re: TroyTempest

                      I was surprised by some of the foods that are toxic to dogs. Just a few other foods to keep away from your dog: chocolate (especially dark), raisins (obviously), avocado, garlic, onions, and alcohol. There are others, in addition to plants that can be poisonous (such as poinsettias).

              2. People hate gin for the same reason(s) they hate anything that's alcoholic and consumable . . . either they haven't been exposed to a "good" one, had a bad experience with a "cheap" one when too young to know better, or they have yet to acquire a taste for it/isn't to their taste.

                No great secret here. The stronger flavors something has, the "tougher" it is to like. I used to be a Scotch drinker -- more so than I am today -- but as much as I enjoyed the Highland, Speyside, and Campbelltown malts, I never enjoyed the intensity of a "classic" Islay malt. I could appreciate it was a well-made whisky, and I could understand how some people could love it, but I was never one of them . . . .

                Personally, I think that's why Hendrick's is so popular: it's the gin for people who like vodka.


                1 Reply
                1. re: zin1953

                  Jason, I like just about every gin I've tried, emphatically including Hendrick's. It's my choice for a "Fitty-Fitty" - equal parts gin and vermouth (the original dry martini recipe) with a dash of bitters, and it makes a delightful G&T. Vodka is okay in its place, which I insist is NOT a martini glass.

                  One variant I've had only one label of is Dutch genever. My late pa-in-law's cellar had a bottle of Bokma; it's no longer sold in the US, a fact I discovered after I'd finished most of it! It's considerably less sharp than a London Dry gin, more like something to simply sip, though I enjoyed it in martini form.

                2. I hated gin until I tried Hendrick's. It seemed much more floral and citrusy than gins I had in the past, and didn't taste like pine sol. Subsequently, I came to appreciate other gins as well, and do like Bombay Sapphire for a martini. I think some of this change of taste (as noted above) may have to do with an aging, jaded palate seeking out new stimuli.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nsenada

                    Hendricks got me into gin as well, now i like many varieties of gin

                    Nolet's is very good and floral - try it with a bit of muddled sugar in the bottom of the glass with some lime and club soda (i dont care for tonic)

                    Beefeater's 24 is also good, more juniper forward than the previous two but not quite as junipery as a full on london dry gin

                    1. re: Dapuma

                      I started with and have always loved tanqueray (ten or reg)

                      1. re: kpaxonite

                        Back when I was first starting out in the Army, back in the mid-80's, one of my buddies always hooked me up with Gordons G&T's whenever we went drinking.

                        I seriously despised the spruce-bomb flavor in the beginning; but because it was free, I eventually acquired the taste for it. I've been using Gordons as my daily gin ever since.

                        Using Gordons in a Gin Old Fashion is probably one of my favorite ways of drinking it, excluding a Negroni...

                        IMO, zin1953 is on the money.

                    2. re: nsenada

                      I find Hendrick's really nasty. Bombay Sapphire, however, is very nice. Most other NON-FLORAL stuff is fine. I love my G&Ts and don't want stuff other than the juniper taste and smell in it. Did I mention I hate Hendrick's?

                    3. My philosophy is that any cocktail that can be made with vodka can be made better with gin.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jpc8015

                        I love Bloody Marys made wiht gin, adds a spicy note!

                        1. re: jpc8015

                          A White Russian might be an exception to that rule.

                        2. Because the last time I had some, (ok I had too much) I ended up in the men's bathroom.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Pixie Muse

                            and are you male? ...... and if not sounds like a good time lol

                          2. So that they can leave more for me, thanks.

                            1. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this on at least one other thread about gin long ago, but different people have different associations with liquors. Here in Boston, gin is often associated with the country-club, white pants after Memorial Day crowd. Whereas my college girlfriend, who was born and raised in one of Houston's roughest areas, refused to drink gin because she associated it with the crowd from her old neighborhood that she referred to as "roughnecks." So it's not always about the taste.

                              1. Pretty new to gin here, but I'm finding it interesting. I think the first time I tried it was about last summer when someone had a big bottle of Bombay Saphire at a gathering. I poured a bit in a cup (this was an outside, picnic sort of gathering) at one point and sipped and went "Hm, that's interesting". So I made a gin and tonic, because all the ingredients were available and others were making them. Not bad. Later I bought some Bluecoat at home, and that was a lot different. I tried making a martini with that once, complete with vermouth, but that didn't interest me much. Bluecoat is different enough that I'm not sure it really goes with vermouth anyway. Eventually I used all that, not sure how, I might have made a few gin and tonics with it. More recently and currently got a bottle of Beefeater, and made what turned out to be a really enjoyable gin and tonic with that tonight, mixed with Whole Foods 365 tonic.

                                So it seems I like gin just fine. :-) Waking up to that fact is good, will keep trying some different ones. Maybe I'll even try a martini again, but seems like getting decent vermouth here is difficult.

                                  1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                    BOODLES has become my go-to gin and is reasonably priced to boot!

                                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                      I enjoy Boodles, but my go to gin is Citadel.

                                      The price structure here is unusual. Around $20 for a 750, around $30 for 1.75.

                                    2. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                      I'd never heard of Boodles until I started reading the Travis McGee thriller series by John D. MacDonald. I tried it, liked it, thought it was drier than the gins I had had up to that point, and thought it went well in martinis. Then I discovered that MacDonald had abandoned Boodles when they started making it in the United States. His character mirrored this abandonment in the series, claiming that the U.S.-made Boodles tasted different.

                                      Travis McGee, the fictional character, switched to Plymouth London Dry gin at that point. I tried it, liked it, and thought it tasted a lot like Boodles did, but mostly, I've remained a Boodles drinker.

                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                        I have a Travis McGee fan site (which I made back in 1997, so it's a bit dated) and I go into some detail re Travis and his gin habits and preferences.

                                    3. I cannot understand why people don't like gin. I think they have never had a decent gin cocktail and it does matter what kind of gin you use. Some are excellent. Some are christmas tree essence. I infuse gin with lots of different fruits and flavors and it's always a success!

                                      1. What I find surprising is that when people talk about gin, there seems to be this idea that it has an overwhelming flavor that might turn people off. I would say that even stronger tasting and botanical-heavy gin is, compared to most other spirits, pretty light. I can understand people just not liking the taste of gin, but I've always thought of it as having a much more crisp, refreshing flavor than pretty much any other distilled spirit.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sanjacinto

                                          Gin was my first spirit, but I mixed it with Mountain Dew when I was 15. I had never drunk Mountain Dew except out of a can, and was alarmed to discover its electric yellow color in the glass. As I drink my morning coffee today, the thought of this makes me -- literally -- slightly nauseous.

                                          I think rum's molasses flavor may be the easiest spirit to learn to like for a novice drinker. Apart from vodka's non-flavor of course.

                                        2. I married a 'martini lover" who wants Vodka "martinis" only. We have a two shaker situation every night. It's outrageous, inefficient and wrong.. But I can't abide the tasteless sipping of Vodka. If she wasn't German I'd threaten her. But she kind of scares me.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: e_bone

                                            Ha ha. Made me laugh.

                                            No problem with that shaker. Use a mixing glass and stir. (This from a guy who actually likes shaken Martinis for sentimental reasons.)

                                            Suggestion: Start adding a small amount of gin to her vodka until she develops a taste for it. I got my wife off Splenda in her coffee using this technique.

                                          2. I love gin. As a long time bartender, at the end of the night, the drink of choice for most of us was clean, cold, clear dry gin on the rocks with a splah of tonic. It felt almost medicinal. To clear all those yucky sticky sweet drinks you poured all night.

                                            I'm and old school Tanq girl, regular not 10.

                                            1. I love the fact that it smells like Christmas trees; it has been my favorite spirit for almost 50 years now. It pairs well with raw meats: oysters, sushi, civiche, it cleanses and stimulates the palate between bites. Also it is very unlikely to leave one hung over.

                                              1. My boyfriend refuses to drink gin because he says it tastes and smells like Christmas trees, and can't deal with that idea.

                                                The first time I tried a gin and tonic, I thought, "hey! it's like drinking a Christmas tree! Awesome!"

                                                Different tastes for different folks, I guess.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                  He may like one of the new "American-type" gins like New Amsterdam or Tanqueray Malacca, which has a citrus vibe [and not juniper].

                                                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                    I just want to mention that Tanqueray Malacca isn't a "New American-type" gin. Also called a "New Western" style gin or a "International" style gin. The recipe is from the 1830's. It's a crossover from Old Tom and what was at that time the newly forming London Dry style.

                                                    Personally, I think New Amsterdam is just terrible, more like a bubble gum and pink grapefruit flavored gin compounded from essences than a distilled gin. It may be distilled, but it tastes artificial.

                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                      Point taken on the mis-characterization of Malacca. I certainly was not recommending either New Amsterdam [which taste like saccharine grapefruit] or Malacca, which is only slightly more interesting to my palate. However, my point was neither are like what most people think of when they are resistant to gin [in being juniper-forward].

                                                2. I've never heard gin disparaged. Historically gin has always been one of the most popular spirits. In some countries it still is. Spain is an example. There are 3-4 times as many cocktail recipes that call for gin than any other spirit.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                    Agreed, BUT . . .

                                                    Only in America have I heard so many people disparage gin as a category . . . my presumption is that this explains things like Hendrick's (the gin for people who like vodka).

                                                    What you say re: Spain is true. The best "gintonica" I have ever had -- indeed, probably four of the top five gintonica cocktails (or, at least 7 out of 10) have been in Spain.

                                                    Of course my general advice is simple: if you don't like gin, don't drink it. ;^)


                                                  2. My late great aunt use to say, "gin is a mind-altering drug".

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: pegasis0066

                                                      My grandfather used to say: "There's a fight in every bottle." :)

                                                      1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                        Sounds like "adult" Vodka to me. :-D

                                                      2. re: pegasis0066

                                                        I always found that for me Fullers ESB was a mind altering drug. A beer that once you had three, the night was gonna get crazy.

                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                          Doesn't that beg the obvious question?

                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            Seriously, that is why I didn't like it. I never knew that smell was gun until I tried gin in college and It was like drinking sweaty dad.
                                                            His drink of choice is tanq and tonic. We wear our food and drink on our pores. I pretty much always smell like garlic.

                                                        2. because it tastes awful

                                                          - sorry just begged for an obvious answer, I've held off posting for weeks but tonight it got the better of me.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: thimes

                                                            Just a few weeks ago, I got my 41 year old brother to give gin a second chance [after adjudicating it as awful in his teen years]. His response: Far more tolerable than he remembers it.

                                                          2. I got my first bottle of Bombay Sapphire East yesterday. I really like the spicy botanicals in it and find it is a little more interesting than regular Sapphire.

                                                            1. Try Blue Coat. Distilled in Philadelphia. Makes a damn fine martini.

                                                              1. Anyone here tried Only Gin? I have suddenly and inexplicably become interested in trying some gins after a 30-year disinterest and was doing some digging at our wine/liquor warehouse. They had all of the regular gins plus Plymouth and some of the others mentioned on these boards, but Only stood out for some reason (marketing possibly?). It is a full flavored, herbal sipping drink. I don't know if it's my unfamiliarity or if it's considered to be really good, but I like it and would buy it again.

                                                                1. Newly graduated, I worked for a German-UK project in London that involved a great deal of travel to the Mid East.

                                                                  The British in the Mid East took time to educate me in the merits of various single malt scotch whiskey, starting with Glenlivet. None of this was available there, so it was more a longing or nostalgia on the part of the thirsty Brits. Even the flights to and from Europe would not serve alcohol until well out over the Med.

                                                                  Returning to London, I enjoyed my first drink, " something citrus " in the form of a G&T, using Tangueray. I mentioned this at our office in Kew Gardens, and things went quiet.

                                                                  " Your not starting THAT at your young age, are you ? " came the final comment. Asking what he meant, I was then given an education into the Gin Alley days of England, and how it ruined many if not thousands, primarily of the working class ( as best displayed by Hogarth, as shown ).

                                                                  Essentially, the lectures swung back to Whiskey, and single grain malt, as being acceptable, but for gin, only recently, and not by the upper class.Not " posh " enough.

                                                                  The middle ground is that G&T was finally accepted during the British colonial days in tropical mosquito-climes, being the best method of taking quinine medicinally, 2-3 time per day.

                                                                  The spirit Gin has had it's ups and downs historically, but I find it refreshing in the various forms with ice, cukes, rosemary, lime, lemon, etc.

                                                                  Today, I find I like home-made Tonic water even more.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                    Gin Lane by Hogarth! I almost forgot one of favorite my pieces of art! Also the name of my hypothetical cocktail bar!

                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                      Memories, but not all bad.

                                                                      As the ALDI advertisement says: " I like Gin "


                                                                      1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                        Awesome commercial. Thanks for sharing it!