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How much Neutral Grain Spirit should be used in 50L Boiler and Gin Basket Setup

Hi, I hope you can help. I'm very new to the world of distilling and after experimenting with small capacity stove top copper column stills, I now have a 50ltr milk churn boiler with a 5.5kw heating element and gin basket set up, pretty much as pictured on the front of the excellent Gin - The StillDragon Way manual. I'd like to continue to tune in my recipes, but I'm unsure of the amount / ratio of water to Neutral Grain Spirit (96.5%) to put in the boiler while I experiment with botanical ratios etc. Is there an optimum 'rule of thumb' ratio.

Given that I'm very much at the experimentation stage, is there a minimum amount of NGS I can add while I continue to test and tune my gin recipes? If a small amount of NGS can be used should I have a maximum or minimum amount of water in the boiler?.

Apologies, if the answer to my question has been staring me in the face in the manual or forum.

Thanks in advance for any help, it really looks to be a very good forum - I'm sure I'm going to have more questions going forward.


  • Its a valid enough question. There are differing opinions and hopefully some of the experienced gin folks will chip in.

  • From a safety stand point if you cover your elements well with water before adding the GNS you will know that you will still have water covering the elements at the end of the run.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • the volume of your gin basket may also limit how much neutral you want to put in..

    ex: 20g/L of juniper and 10g/L of coriander would be a full basket at 10Liters (300grams)

  • No one has commented yet on the ABV of the boiler charge for the flavour infusion run, which I thought was the question. Some folks say 20% and others 30%. I think opinions vary also dependent on whether there are any botanicals in the boiler charge itself.

    Part of this relates to the product ABV as if you need to dilute it, you also dilute the flavours. I suppose a lot depends on your production method and your views on the extraction process for the botanicals at different alcohol strengths.

  • edited January 2016

    So have you got something to add as far as answers or just questions?

    There seems to be a stack of stuff missing from here all kapeas stuff and some others from this post on.

    Gin Setup: Plates & Dilution

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • I don't vary much with my still charges. I typically run with 28% boiler charges on a spirit run, regardless of the product.

    But I don't make a lot of gin.

  • Thanks for the responses and guidance - much appreciated. I'll try and avoid the mistakes that could turn gin making into a pretty expensive hobby. Cheers.

  • Hi Rover

    We've done a bit of research on this. It seems that a lot of distillers charges are somewhere between 35% up to 60%. This applies to steam, water jacket and electric hotplate heating. This comes as little surprise as new distillers often start their recipe experiments using shop bought vodka infused with botanicals - typical the vodkas abv range falls within that mentioned above. The process of getting a good gin recipe often focuses heavily on botanical levels and less about the starting strength of your charge. That said it can have an impact. It's worth experimenting with.


  • edited January 2016

    I always dilute the neutral spirit to 45% for a gin run.
    Using a standard StillDragon Gin Basket my recipe is:

    for 45 litres of spirit @ 45% in still

    • 140g juniper (edit 21-2-15 from 100g)
    • 40g coriander seed
    • 10g orris root or angelica root (orris root can cause indigestion in some people. Angelica doesn't)
    • 1g dill tips
    • 5 cardamom pods crushed
    • 3g black peppercorns (or 50-50% with pink peppercorns)
    • Pinch of carroway
    • 1/2 tspn lavender flowers
    • 1 big basil leaf
    • 1/2 tangello zest - absolutely NO MORE!
    • 1/2 lemonade zest - absolutely NO MORE!
    • 1/2 lisbon lemon zest - absolutely NO MORE!
    • 1.5 stick cinnamon

    This gives a lovely light flowery gin that can be quaffed all afternoon. If steeped in the pot overnight it creates a strong flavoured gin that makes 2 drinks just a bit too much.

  • It looks like you're good to go @Rover58. Do return and post the results of your first trials.



  • edited January 2016

    I am quite confused regarding GIN and the use of bubble plates and or rather just running the still as a pot still as what I did last weekend.

    Firstly I stripped my old apple cider approx. 84L total before distilling and with bubbles removed. Cider was at approx. 7.5% ABV. Distilled product started at approx. 40% and I collected all down to about 9%.

    I recharged my 50L pot with the distilled product above (again in a pot still configuration without bubble plates) and this time inserted a gin basket with botanicals.

    The end product was generally at 79% ABV and towards the end started dropping to about 67% and then quite quickly to about 40%. I stopped shortly afterwards.

    The total collection was approx. 6.75L.

    The low alcohol collection was "pleasantish" to the neat taste but far from acceptable. Far too much coriander and not enough juniper and also I forgot to add the orange rinds.

    The "buggeration" came from my acquired gin basket that was hopelessly undersized. In short I had to complete the run as I was committed.

    So my question from the above are twofold:

    1. When and when not do you use bubble plates.
    2. Is there a maximum size that you must not go over for a gin basket. In other words having a gin basket sufficient for a 50L to 100L kettle charge.





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  • The StillDragon operations manuals have a lot of really good information in them. I bet you can find answers to your questions in there.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • Never made gin, but the consensus from the people that do is to make the spirit first to where you can drink (bubble plates) it and then do a separate run with the gin basket. Seems to me you were trying to combine your spirit run and the gin infusion at the same time

  • Two seperate runs were done .... first to strip and then for distillation with Gin basket. As I am using Apple Cider I would be hesitant to use bubble plates as I would loose apple flavour from having done so ????

  • bubble plates keep flavor...

    I can get flavor out of 24 plates.... last week, I did a 100gal batch of bad, old beer for a demonstration for the homebrew club I host the meetingplace for... Of the 100 gal (380L filled to the manway neck), 1.5-2 sankey kegs were of a 'peanut butter blonde' ale made with flavor extract, and about 60% through the run, I have two mason jars of mostly hearts with incredible peanut butter aroma...

  • @richard either way (plate or no plate) you need to have the spirit to the point that you can drink it straight first (all head & tails cuts done). Only then is everyone else running their gin

  • You haven't mentioned anywhere you did cuts. Sounds like both your runs were stripping runs to me if no cuts were made.

    I think kapea has it right with rtfm. If you need help with cuts there's some really good info in the basics sticky at Kiwis Guide To Cuts.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • @ElectricEd

    What is your ABV range when collecting and what is your final ABV for the finished product?

    Gardsbrenneriet AS, a small distillery located in Sandane, Norway

  • edited January 2016

    I use 90-93% neutral spirit from a TPW, dilute it to 45% and then run it through what is effectively a pot still with a gin head. See the picture. The ABV at the start is around 88% which quickly drops to 80% and then plateaus for about 1 1/2 hours before dropping off slowly. I kill it at around 35% as a lot of woody flavours come through around 30%. If I'm using rose buds I do a cut from 25% to 20% as this is when the best rose oils come out. Below 20% is pretty awful in taste so that marks the end. The final product is around 80% which is diluted back to 40% for drinking. If I want a Hendricks style gin I add about 20ml of the rose cut to a bottle of gin.


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  • Very useful information! Thanks a lot :)

    Gardsbrenneriet AS, a small distillery located in Sandane, Norway

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