Giving Gin a Crack

Hello fella's,

I have a GB4 arriving this week (a big thanks to @punkin!!) and I'm all prepped with clean and filtered hearts of hearts neutral and ingredients mentioned in the GB4 online instruction manual. BUT I am a little confused as to the ideal configuration for vapor infusing Gin.

My equipment - I have a 4" 5 plate Crystal Dragon on a 50L keg boiler with 2 x 2400w elements. The bottom element is covered at 10L and the top element is covered at 20L. Obviously being modular I can easily convert the config to a pot. I have 15.6L of 35% hearts that was stripped from 200L of tpw, aggressive cuts were made in the spirit run, then watered down to 35% to run thru my carbon filter in attempt to make the cleanest base neutral to start from. When watered down to near 20% the total volume in the boiler will be 25L.

Config 1 - It has been suggested by another fellow distiller to run thru the 5 plates again with the GB4 mounted above the RC. The reasoning is it will further clean up the distillate and allow me to bleed off the small amount of heads if any before inserting the gin basket at the start of hearts by putting it back into full reflux. Fair point and I agree.

Config 2 - Set up in Pot mode as suggested in the instruction manual.

Now this is where it gets interesting. I have read that the still needs to be run harder to push the vapors thru the GB4 and the botanicals in the basket become woody and bitter around the 45 to 50 min mark. So I'm guessing the batch size needs to match the botanical run time. I reckon I'll get about 4.5 to 5L of product back from this 25L of neutral base. So in theory I'll need to run at 9 to 10L per hour. This rate is not possible thru my 4" 5 plate CD. When set up in Pot config however, I usually strip my washes at 8 to 9L per hour with both elements blasting away. This time frame better suits the exposure of the botanicals.

Oh gee....did I just answer my own question!!! ha.

Well...I guess I'm just calling on the other gin junkies out there for advise. I'm not after your secret recipe, thought I would like to hear your configurations and how you run them and your ideas about the length of time you run them for??

Thanks for reading.




  • edited June 2016

    My ignorant 2 cents worth and others will no doubt add .....

    1. Make sure that you are sufficiently diluted to cover (and plus more) your 10L base element. Maybe run your top element until boiling and then switch top off.
    2. Slow your speed down to between 2 to 3 lph max so as to get best botanical contact.
    3. Connect basket above RC. This allows you to go into full reflux upto such time as you wish to pass through the basket and also should you wish to change the basket.
    4. Some recent comments on the subject suggest a dilution to approx 20% max and this will allow you to draw off without plates at approx 45 to 50%.
    5. By adding plates on the gin run will increase the final percentage wherefater you will need to final dilute.
  • I have a seperate small 30L keg that sits on the hob in the kitchen for gin and absinthe. I always do 5L batches and will always run in simple pot mode whether it's vapour infused or with botanicals in the pot.

    The reason for this is that I find as the ABV drops and the vapour temp rises as the amount of water vapour coming over increases, different flavours come across in a highly predictable sequence.

    As the run starts all my juniper oils come over really intense (add a few drops of water to the first hundred mls and it will louche like crazy!!) followed quickly by citrus from coriander and any citrus fruit I might be using, then as the ABV drops I get the peppery, spicy notes, some fruity floral flavours. Then when the output ABV has dropped to below 40% I get cinnamon. BIG cinnamon. Just got to shut down by tasting before woody tailsy flavours start.

    I'd recommend a simple recipe for your first go. Something like: juniper, coriander, Angelica, orange zest, cinnamon, orris root.

    Orris root is the most floral smelling/tasting thing Iv ever come across and I love it!!

  • Not being a gin maker i only have a couple observations to make on the configuration questions you are asking.

    1. in Pot mode you will not be able to run both elements to get your 8lph as you won't have a big enough charge to run the second element after heat up.

    2. Instead of running the reflux condensor below the GB4 you can just switch the elements off to do a basket change. The boiler will stop producing major amounts of vapour in 30 secs or so.

    3. If you find the distillate becoming weak in flavour, harsh etc you can stop the run and reuse what's in the boiler, you don't have to run all the alcohol through and hopefully seeing as it's clean hearts the boiler charge will still remain fairly clean smelling at half way through.

    4. You can go down below 20% for a pot still run and still get quite a strong output. I believe for my rums when i was doing the Calculating a Still Charge experiments i was down at 17-18% and getting 65%. Just check that on the thread in Artisan though.

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

  • if you have nice clean neutral there is no need for another run - simply push it through in pot mode.

    The GB4 will easily hold enough botanicals for 5l of output product. As Mark says, different flavours at different times during the run..... I haven't encountered the woody / bitter flavour at 45-50 mins & I typically run down to under 20%. sure the profile changes, but once it's all blended together I doubt you'll notice it (if it occurs).

  • edited June 2016

    Run time is relative to vapor flow. Saying certain flavors come off of the botanicals at a fixed time is not very helpful. Run it hard and those flavors are extracted at X minutes into the run. Run it easy and those same flavors are extracted at 2X minutes into the run.

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

  • Thank-you Fella's

    All great info. Picked up my new GB4 this morning. I'll put it together a might even do a run this afternoon.

    I'll configure into a pot and run it around 2L/min.

    Oh yeah and i guess the electric parrot is fitted after the GB4???

    Thanks again for replying.

  • How much effect would vapour temp have?

    A depleted boiler with a pot would be stripping oils out of the botanicals at close to 100 C.
    Plonking a column between the basket and boiler mean you're stripping oils out with vapour 20 C cooler.

    My gut feeling is the temp difference would have a much bigger effect than the actual ABV that causes it.

  • edited June 2016

    I think that's right Jackson,

    it's the increasing vapour temperature because of the increasing amount of water present in the vapour that drags over different volatiles as the run progresses.

  • edited June 2016

    Lots of good questions. My response is just do it.

    There are so many variables. You have to figure out what your machine is going to do. Use @crozdog's operation guide as a starting point and go from there.

    2L/min?! Damn! That's 31.75 gallons per hour!

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

  • @Kapea

    Ha.... you got me!!! Well spotted.

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