Gin Recipes for Home and Hobby Distillers

Gin Recipes for Home and Hobby Distillers

Published : 03-07-2020 - Categories : Home Distilling , Recipes , Spirit Enhancement

DISCLAIMER: Distillique does not believe in providing and selling recipes, as this goes against the Craft of producing your own products. The recipes we share have been sourced from clients and other sources, and as such, Distillique takes no responsibility and makes no guarantees regarding the quality, accuracy or safety of these recipes. Recipes are used at own risk, and are for the purpose of experimentation, inspiration and guidance.

    

How do I create my own Gin Recipe?

    

Any of you who have attended our W4 – Gin and Botanicals Course or C10 – Comprehensive Distilling Course would know that creating a Gin Recipe is not easy, not simple, and takes a long time. There are an incredible number of variables, and you need to do multiple trails, changing one variable at a time, in order to get a recipe that not only tastes good, but is repeatable.

    

Some Home Distillers, however, just want to play around with Gin, and do not want to go through all those steps.

    

They are just looking for a quick and easy way to create a Gin for themselves at home.

    

This article is aimed at those Home and Hobby Distillers.

    

Where do I source my Botanicals?

    

A lot of different Botanicals can be used in Gin, many of them so commonplace that you can find them in your local supermarket or grocery store – i.e. Coriander, Rosemary, Pepper, etc. Others are slightly more challenging to source, like Juniper (obviously), Rose Petals, Thai Blue Pea Flower, etc.

    

Distillique stocks a range of Botanicals, but there is no way we can stock everything, so sometimes it is necessary to shop around a little.

    

Your local spice shop can be a great source of interesting and affordable spices, but don’t overlook your local Pharmacy. Dischem for instance, in their Natural and Homeopathic sections, carry wide ranges (depending on the size of the store) of interesting Botanicals like Lemonbalm, Wormwood, Chamomile, etc.

    

Just choose wisely – Juniper for instance is sold at some Woolworths stores, but it is firstly quite expensive, and secondly, too dry for Ginning. It will work, and you will get Juniper flavour, but you will end up using a lot more Juniper than you should for the same end result. Ideally, Juniper should still be slightly moist on the inside to give you the ideally flavour profile.

    

Fruits and peels can be bought fresh at a supermarket or fresh produce store, and then processed at home prior to use.

    

How do I process my Botanicals?

    

Ideally, Botanicals should be crushed to open them up. This increases the surface area exposed to the alcohol or alcohol vapours (depending on the infusion method), and thereby increases the amount of flavour released from them during infusion.

    

With certain Botanicals like Citrus Peels, we may have an issue with excessive flavour – specifically excessive oils – which may be desirable in taste and aroma but causes haziness and louching in the final product. One of the ways to avoid louching is to dry the peels prior to use. This can be done in a dehydrator (like a biltong cabinet or fruit drier) or even in the oven.

    

Just keep in mind though that dehydration – especially in the oven – can change the flavour profile, so if you want that nice fresh flavour, rather use the wet peel. Having said that, intentional roasting can create new, interesting and desired flavours. A slight caramelization of Grapefruit or other Citrus peels can taste great, as does roasted Cinnamon or roasted Coriander.

    

Play around – not just with the Botanicals, but with what you do to the Botanicals as well.

    

How much Botanicals should I use in my Gin?

    

These are probably the most common Gin related questions we get.

    

“How much Juniper per litre?”

“How much Botanicals per litre?”

“What ratio of Juniper to Botanicals should we use?”

    

Long story short – there are no fixed rules, and anyone that tells you different is either lying or doesn’t know any better. There are just too many variables. The degree of freshness of the botanicals, the type of botanicals, the level and method of crushing, the method of Infusion, etc. etc.

    

All of this impacts on the ratios used.

     

But we cover this in detail in our W4 – Gin and Botanicals Course.

    

For now – as much as it pains us to do it – we are going to give you one of the most common ratio calculations out in the Internet – espoused over and over again. It has no basis in science or even common commercial methodology, and the originator of these ratio’s is unknown, but many Home and Hobby Distillers swear by it.

    

So, use at your own risk.

    

According to this Ratio Calculation, the total mass of botanicals used should be about 20 to 35 grams per litre of ethanol. If we take the dominant botanical, which in a London Dry Style Gin would normally be Juniper, and we make that X, then according to this Ration Calculation your proportions of Botanicals should be:

    

  • X = Juniper amount in Grams
  • 0.5X = Coriander amount in Grams (half the amount of Juniper)
  • 0.1X = Angelica, Cassia, Cinnamon, Liquorice, Bitter Almonds, Grains of Paradise, Pepper, Cubeb Berries, etc. (one tenth the amount of Juniper)
  • 0.01X = Bitter & Sweet Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Ginger, Orris Root, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Savoury, Calamus Root, Chamomile, Fennel, Aniseed, Cumin, Violet Root (one hundredth the amount of Juniper)

   

PRACTICAL EXAMPLE:

    

I want to make a Gin with Juniper, Coriander, Angelica Root, Grains of Paradise, Sweet Orange Peel, Lemon Peel and Nutmeg.

    

If I’m using 20g of Juniper, then my Coriander would be 10g, my Angelica Root and Grains of Paradise would be 2g each, and my Sweet Orange Peel, Lemon Peel and Nutmeg would be 0.2g or 200mg each.

    

My total Botanical weight would therefore be 34.6g per litre.

    

That is for London Dry Style. But most contemporary Gins are not Juniper forward or AS Juniper forward as this. The Juniper should still be detectable, but not necessarily prominent.

    

Should you wish to produce this type of Gin, the calculation changes a little, and the Juniper and Coriander might be equal amounts, so instead of X referring too Juniper, the X would refer too Juniper and Coriander in a 50:50 relationship.

    

Using the same example, as above, my Juniper would therefore be 10g, my Coriander 10g, and the rest stays the same: Angelica Root and Grains of Paradise would still be 2g each, and Sweet Orange Peel, Lemon Peel and Nutmeg would still be 0.2g or 200mg each.

    

My total Botanical weight would therefore be 24.6g per litre.

    

The major shortcoming of this Ratio Calculation is deciding which Botanical falls into which category, and also the fact that it is heavily skewed towards producing London Dry Gin. Yes, from the examples given in the ratios we can assume that the 1/10th Botanicals have lower flavour profiles than the 1/100th Botanicals – but is that necessarily true in all cases? Cinnamon for instance can be quite overpowering, especially fresh or Cinnamon Powder opposed to Cinnamon Sticks. Fresh Lemon Peel will be much more intense than Dried Lemon Peel.

    

So, even with this guideline, you will still need to play around quite a bit.

    

How do I Infuse my Botanicals into my Gin?

 

If you have already done our W4 – Gin and Botanicals Course, or our C10 – Comprehensive Distilling Course, you would know that there are 4 different ways in which Botanicals can be infused into Gin:

    

  • Vapour Infusion
  • Infused Distillation
  • Direct Infusion
  • Vacuum Infusion

    

The methodology prescribed by this Ration Calculation method calls for Infused Distillation, but not necessarily in the traditional sense.

     

Infused distillation is where the Botanicals get placed inside the alcohol (normally at 40% ABV, but if you are using store bought Vodka, 43% would be fine as well) for a period of (normally) at least 24 hours. This steeping process (think of it like making tea) draws flavour, aroma and colour from the Botanicals into the alcohol. Then this alcohol with the Botanicals is then placed inside a boiler and distilled.

     

The problem is that not all boilers are suitable for this.

     

If the boiler is heated directly with gas underneath, or has an uninsulated element inside the liquid, the Botanicals will burn. To avoid this, we use either Jacketed Boilers or Insulated Elements. If neither of these are available, we need to improvise. One way is to filter out the Botanicals from the alcohol prior to distillation. This does however mean you get less flavour out of the Botanicals, but you could theoretically compensate for that by macerating or steeping longer. The other way is to steep or macerate the botanicals while they are in a bag, and then during distillation, suspending this bag in some way so it hangs in the liquid, but does not touch the bottom or the elements. If you pursue this method, a longer steeping or maceration period would also be advised, as well as regular stirring, as the Botanicals will be limited to a certain space inside the ethanol.

     

A commonly held misconception is that vapour infusion – such as Bombay Sapphire uses – gives a “Lighter” flavour profile than Infused Distillation. This is most definitely not the case. Vapour Infusion can produce a flavour profile as intense or even more intense than Infused Distillation, but it does tend to require more Botanicals to achieve this. It is however much easier to control the flavour profile of your product through Vapour Infusion opposed to Infused Distillation, as with Infused Distillation the flavour profile changes throughout the run as different compounds come out of the still at different temperatures.

     

After Distillation the Gin will be at a much higher percentage ABV than the 40% to 43% you started at. Depending on the type of still used and its reflux ration, you might be at an average of 65% to 85%. You now need to dilute the Gin down to drinking strength through the addition of Distilled Water or Reverse Osmosis Water.

     

Sometimes, if your flavour profile is too intense (too many oils inside the Gin), this could lead to Louching – a haziness in the Gin due to the precipitation of Oils out of the infusion. The video below is an Extract form our Online Gin Training, and will show you how to handle Louching.

     

    

Which Botanicals should I use in my Gin?

    

All Gins must contain Juniper – that is a legal requirement.

    

All London Dry Gins include Juniper, Coriander and some kind of Citrus (usually) along with other botanicals.

    

All Gins should also contain at least one Fixative. A Fixative is a Botanical that grounds the flavours, binds them together, and limits Flavour changes (Bottle Maturation – for those of you that have already done our Gin Training). The most common Fixatives are Angelica Root, Calamus Root and Orris Root.

    

After that, it’s pretty much up to you. Just don’t poison anyone. You can reference our Article on Interesting Botanicals as well for some inspiration.

    

Some ideas of Botanicals you can use:

    

  • Almond - Sweet flavours
  • Angelica Seed - Musky and Hoppy flavours
  • Cinnamon - Sweet and Woody (use sparingly)
  • Ginger Root - Dry and Hot Spice (use carefully – it can overpower)
  • Grapefruit - Clean Citrus
  • Rose Petals – Floral
  • Jasmine – Honey

 

You can also add things like lavender, chamomile, rose, rosemary, sage, whatever you like.

    

It’s your Gin!

    

How many Botanicals should I use in my Gin?

    

Typically, a gin contains between 6 and 10 Botanicals, although the Dutch Damask Gin has 17 Botanicals, the French Citadelle Gin has 19 Botanicals, Old 21 has 21 Botanicals and Monkey 47 has 47 different Botanicals, including 9 different types of Pepper.

    

Many of these Gins with larger numbers of Botanicals have however been criticised that this is done more for marketing reasons and that the Gins themselves either lack direction, or that the unique Botanicals that consumers want to taste becomes undetectable.

    

Those of you that have done training with us will be familiar with our attitude about Gin Botanicals, i.e. Less is More. The lower the number of Botanicals in your Gin, the easier it is for consumers to detect and identify and therefore appreciate your product.

    

In the end the choice is yours.

    

Do you have some Sample Gin Recipes?

      

Below are some Gin Recipes we obtained from the Internet – again, as Distillique consults with Commercial Distillers, we will never give out recipes as we do not want to be accused of leaking someone’s recipe. We have however corrected some mistakes in the recipes or added additional details for clarity.

    

Recipe 1

    

To make a basic London Dry Style Gin, you can use the following recipe.

10lt of 40% Alcohol in Boiler (scale according to the size of your still)

     

Add in:

    

  • 200g Juniper
  • 100g Coriander
  • 20g Angelica Root
  • 20g Cassia Bark
  • 20g Liquorice Root
  • 20g Grains of Paradise (if not available, substitute 10g Black Pepper, 2g Ginger, 3g Cardamom and 5g Orange Peel)
  • 20g Black Pepper (preferably Cubeb if available)
  • 50g Orange and / or Lemon Peel
  • 5g Ginger
  • 5g Orris Root
  • 5g Cardamom
  • 5g Nutmeg

   

Macerate or Steep for 24 hours.

Distill through Pot Still or in Column Still in Pot Still mode.

Dilute distillate to between 38 and 43% (depending on your preferred target alcohol percentage)

Let the diluted Gin rest for about 2 to 3 weeks. The resting period allows the different flavours to "marry" and will improve the flavour balance. Those of you that have done the W4 – Gin and Botanicals Course, or C10 – Comprehensive Distilling Course will remember the discussions on Bottle and Batch Maturation.

    

Recipe 2

    

This recipe uses the same ingredients (alcohol and botanicals) as Recipe 1 but uses Vapour Infusion instead of Infused Distillation. In an Alembic Still the easiest way is to use a Ginning Bag which suspends the Botanicals between the Boiler and Vapour Chamber. In an Essential Oil Still you can use the Botanical Extension. With a Fractionating Reflux Column Still you would use a Ginning Head or Carter Head.

    

Column Stills are a problem though. Adjustable Reflux Columns are not suitable for Ginning as most of the Botanical Flavours will tend to stay behind in the catchment at the top of the Column. This can also lead to discolouration of the distillate.

    

Non-adjustable Reflux Column Stills can lead to “drip-back” of the Botanicals or Oils into the boiler, meaning that most of the flavours will stay behind in the boiler. The best method would be to assemble the still in the shortest Column configuration you can, bypass any reflux in the Column (i.e. no water allowed to run through the Column as some designs do) and place the Botanicals in a basket or bag at the bottom of the Column.

    

Make sure there is no way for the vapours to go around the Botanicals instead of through them.

    

Place 10lt Alcohol in the Boiler

Place the same Botanicals as Recipe 1 inside the Vapour Path

Distill through the Botanicals.

Dilute distillate to between 38 and 43% (depending on your preferred target alcohol percentage)

Let the diluted Gin rest for about 2 to 3 weeks.

    

Recipe 3

    

On of the oldest and easiest ways to make a Gin, is through Direct Infusion. This is basically Maceration or Steeping, but without using the Distillation process afterwards. Although a process that became less popular in the 1800s, it made a comeback in the early 1900s during Prohibition in the USA, as Bathtub Gin.

    

Weigh out your Botanicals as per the suggestions below (or make up your own)

Place the Botanicals (excluding those with particularly heavy flavours and aromas) into a clean, sterile bottle. Bottles can be sterilized with Sodium Metabisulphite, or if all else fails, boiling water.

Fill the bottle with alcohol – 43% if store bought Vodka, 45% if you distilled your own Neutral Spirit

Leave for 48 hours to infuse (stir it every couple of hours)

Taste the infusion

Add the remaining botanicals to the mix (if there are any), or if there’s a flavour you want more of that you find lacking during the tasting, add a bit more of that botanical.

Leave too steep for a further 12 to 24 hours, agitating the mixture at least once during this time.

    

REMEMBER: Longer infusions does not necessarily mean better Gins. Beware of over infusing

    

Taste, and once you are happy, use a Sieve and Coffee Filter Paper to filter out the Botanicals

If there is still sediment use multiple layers of Coffee Filter Paper to filter again

Leave to sit for a couple of days and re-filter out any sediment that settles

    

The problem we now have is the Gin will have picked up the colours of the Botanicals. This is a distinctive characteristic of Bathtub Gin.

    

If you do not want this, you would need to distil the Gin. Add the Gin to your still, distill it in Pot Still mode, and then dilute it back down to 38% to 43% ABV (depending on the strength you want).

    

REMEMBER: You will be losing some of the flavour in the re-distillation process, so if that is your plan, the Gin must be have quite a strong taste after infusion. This is also a way to fix or save a Gin that was overinfused.

    

NOTE: if you've left it a little too long and the gin is too strongly flavoured, you can always dilute with Vodka or Neutral Spirit to bring down the Flavour Profile.

    

Here is some other recipe suggestion which you might like to try. These have been taken from a collection of different people, so some are in grams and some are in spoon measurements. We make no comment on any of these.

    

Suggestion 1

   

  • 3 tablespoons Juniper
  • 1.5 tablespoon Green Cardamom Pods
  • 3 teaspoons Coriander Seeds
  • 2 teaspoon Dried Lemongrass
  • 3 Strips Orange Peel (avoid any white pith as it is very bitter)
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • 1.5 stick Liquorice Root (or cubes)

  

Suggestion 2

   

  • 20 to 25g Juniper Berries
  • 8 to 10g Coriander Seed
  • 3g Angelica Root
  • 1 to 2g Liquorice Root Powder
  • 2g Orris Root
  • 2g Fresh Orange Peel
  • 2g Fresh Lemon Peel

   

Suggestion 3

   

  • 20g Juniper
  • 8g Whole Coriander, crushed
  • 2g Dried Orange Peel
  • 2g Dried Lemon Peel
  • 3g Whole Cinnamon
  • 1 Whole Cardamom pod, crushed

    

Use a mortar and pestle to break up the Coriander and Cardamom before adding them to the other dry ingredients.

   

Suggestion 4

    

  • 2 tbsp Juniper (more if you like Juniper-forward gin)
  • 1/4 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Whole Allspice
  • 3/4 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 4 Cardamom Pods
  • 2 Peppercorns
  • Sprig of Lavender
  • Sprig of Rosemary
  • Single full-length strip of Dried Grapefruit Peel (no pith)
  • Single full-length strip of Dried Lemon Peel (no pith)

    

Suggestion 5

    

  • 2 tbsp Juniper
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • Peels of 2 Grapefruits
  • Peel of 1 Lemon
  • Peel of 1 Orange
  • 4 Cloves
  • .5 tsp Angelica Root
  • .25 tsp Cassia Bark
  • .25 tsp Fennel Seeds

    

Suggestion 6

    

 

  • 2 tbsp Juniper
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seed
  • 4 Whole Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Fennel Seed
  • 3 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 3 Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 full length strip of Orange Peel (no pith)

    

Suggestion 7

    

  • 2 tbsp Juniper
  • 1/4 tsp Coriander Seed
  • 2 Whole Allspice
  • 2 Rose Hips
  • 1/4 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Lavender Flowers
  • 1/8 tsp Fennel Seed
  • 1/8 tsp Pulverized Dried Lemon Peel
  • 2 Black Peppercorns
  • 3 Green Cardamom Pods

    

Suggestion 8

   

  • 2 1/2 tbsp of Juniper

    

Infuse for 12 hours on its own, then add:

    

  • 1/8 tsp Fennel Seed
  • 4 Black Peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp Whole Allspice
  • 3/4 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1/8 tsp Grains of Paradise (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp fresh Orange Zest
  • 3/4 tsp fresh Lemon Zest
  • one sprig Rosemary

    

Infuse for 12 hours longer, strain and sieve, then infuse for a further 12 hours with:

    

  • 7g Juniper
  • 3.5g Coriander Seed
  • 0.25g Cassia
  • 0.3g Liquorice Root
  • 0.2g Orris Root Powder
  • 0.2g Angelica Root
  • 0.5g Mixed Citrus Zest (fresh & grated)
  • 0.2g Frankincense
  • 0.1g Myrrh
  • 0.2g Cardamom

    

What do they put in Commercial Gins?

    

Some Gin Brands are open about the Botanicals they use. Others very cagey.

    

Even when a Brand SEEMS to be open and honest about their Botanicals, sometimes something is left out.

    

The following table is an indication of Botanicals used in some International Brands as shared by them, so the accuracy might be doubtful.

   

 

Tiger Gin

Gordons

Beefeater

Plymouth

Bombay London Dry

Bombay Sapphire

Mercury

Juniper Green

Van Gogh

Citadell

Juniper

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Coriander

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Angelica Root

X

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Cassia

X

X

X

 

X

X

X

 

X

X

Cinnamon

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Liquorice

X

 

X

 

X

X

X

 

X

X

Bitter Almonds

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

X

X

Grains of Paradise

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

X

Cubeb Berries

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

X

Orange Peel (Bitter)

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Peel (Sweet)

X

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

X

Lemon Peel

X

 

X

X

X

X

X

 

X

X

Ginger

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orris Root

X

 

 

X

X

X

X

 

X

X

Cardamom

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

X

Nutmeg

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Savoury

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Cumin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Violet Root

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Aniseed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Fennel Seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

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