Gin research at the University of Nottingham is just the tonic for distillers


A University of Nottingham researcher is appealing for gin producers to get in touch to help support a research project into the breadth of flavour profiles within the UK gin market, that could help distillers with new flavour development and flavour quality.

Dr Hebe Parr, a research scientist in the Flavour Research Group, is looking to establish flavour profiles of gins from the UK by separating, identifying, and quantifying the flavour compounds in the samples by Gas Chromatography.

Understanding the flavour composition of a gin range can help with product development by identifying unique aspects of the range. This form of flavour analysis can also identify undesirable flavour compounds, enabling the targeted reduction of their perception.

The Food Innovation Centre at the university has spearheaded the appeal to gin makers across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. But now the appeal is being widened across the UK in the hope that gin producers from further afield will join the research project.

Dr Parr, a beverage flavour development specialist, said: “We are looking for 5ml samples of as many gins as possible, but my target is around 1,000 different gins. The samples will not be consumed and will be used for instrumental analysis only. We can share a summary of this analysis with the producer of the gin.”

The samples can be purchased if required and Dr Parr can either visit the distillery or producer or arrange delivery of sample bottles with a prepaid return label. She is looking for samples from distillers and gin producers of all sizes; no manufacturer is too small.

“If it’s commercially available, I would like a small sample of it,” added Dr Parr, who completed her PhD in the flavour of roasted malts in beers at the University of Nottingham in 2020 and will spend the next year on the research project into gin flavours.

From 2020 to 2022, the number of UK gin distillers increased by 15%, fuelling the surge in consumer demand for gin. With well over 6,000 brands worldwide, UK gin distillers are compelled to innovate to remain relevant in this dynamic industry.

The Flavour Research Group is part of the International Flavour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham conducting world-leading research in food and flavour chemistry.

The Food Innovation Centre, based at the Bioenergy and Brewing Science building at the University of Nottingham’s Sutton Bonington campus, offers free support to eligible small and medium-sized food and drink manufacturers in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire under the Driving Research and Innovation project – a three-year project that runs until the end of December 2022. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the D2N2 LEP, the project is run by the Food Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham School of Biosciences, in conjunction with the Chemistry Innovation Laboratory in the School of Chemistry and Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and in association with the Midlands Engine. It is a unique collaboration project that provides free specialist innovation support to small and medium-sized businesses.

Richard Worrall, who heads the Food Innovation Centre, said: “We have a number of amazing gin producers in the East Midlands, who we were delighted to put in touch with Dr Parr and we are looking forward to hearing how the research develops as producers and distillers across the UK come on board.”