How does gin distilling work and how do you recognize top quality?
A guide for daredevils
How is gin made? What is the difference between gin and vodka? And can you and are you allowed to do gin distillation yourself? We reveal the recipe and explain how you can also assess the quality difference between different gins.
Firstly the difference between gin and vodka
Gin and vodka are both made with neutral alcohol. Then what is the difference between vodka or gin distilling? Juniper berries and different herbs and spices are added to the drink when creating gin. If you add those ingredients to vodka, you can also call the result gin. Whether the final brew will taste good, however, remains to be seen …
It's all about the flavor
The distinction in gins is usually in the flavors and the flavor-makers that are added to the alcohol. Most gin makers dip the herbs and spices in neutral alcohol to bring out the flavor of those herbs and spices. We call this process maceration. If the gin maker stops after this maceration process, we speak of infused or bathtub gin.
By further distilling the maceration in a “still” pot, the gin becomes finer and softer. The result is called a London Dry Gin or Distilled gin. Distilling is like boiling water. Only the released vapors are collected back to allow them to condense. The warm vapors rise and disperse in a spiral tube that is cooled to promote the condensation process. The drops end up in a collection vessel. This controlled condensation technique is called alembic, boiler distillation or pot-still technology. Water evaporates at 100 ° C, alcohol sooner, at 78.5 ° C. Gin stoking therefore occurs at a temperature between 78.5° and 100° C.
From head to tail
Each distillate has a head, heart and tails. The head and tail contain impurities and are often distilled again. Gin smokers smell and taste to determine how much more they must distil. At Premium Gins only the pure heart is bottled.
You can distill via the classic kettle distillation or via a distillery column. The latter is more efficient. Due to the height of the distilling column you can continue to distil without having to separate the head and tail. These are automatically purified in this distillation technique. Only in this case it is the machine that decides when the gin is ready and no longer left to the master gin distiller himself.
Stirring your own gin? Pay attention!
Gin distillation is obviously not without danger and it is just not legally condoned. You must even make a declaration when you own a distilling appliance or use it as a decorative item only.
Gin distilling or buy your gin?
Why would you distill gin yourself? You can also buy a nice premium gin at Make Your Own Spirit and there is also a nice bottle for designs too.
Ready for a taste?