Which SD setup for vapour infused gin?

Starting from scratch, with the idea of making vapour infused gin, with botanical basket, what kind of SD setup would you suggest for a beginner? I've been reading so much around different forums I have my mind all messed up, what would work for me, all the possible techniques, but SD seemed like a good place to start, being modular and giving opportunity for upgrading and experimenting and I've also noticed you guys here have a lots of experience with vapour infusing. So starting simple, small volume, but with quality, how would you build it?

Thanks for any directions and help! cheers:)

Comments

  • edited August 28

    HI,

    Welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of SD and spirit production.

    To make gin you first need quality neutral spirit. I use a a modified keg with a 4" 4 plate column and 510mm straight tri-clamp spool (packed with stainless steel scrubbers) under the reflux condenser. This gives me 92+% hearts every time from tomato paste wash.

    Once I have the neutral I then reconfigure the setup, remove the plates, reflux condenser etc so the column is running as a pot still and hook up the GB4 gin basket between the top of the column and the product condenser.

    Have a look in the manuals section for 2 manuals on how to use the "Dash" series of stills like I described and a guide to gin.

    Let us know how you go.

    Enjoy

  • I am using the GB4 for vapor infusion but I buy my neutral in the bottle and dont have to make my own neutral. I run it on top of a 150 milk can style boiler, but because of the volume of the gin basket I only run it with 60litres which is just about the limit of a single charge in the gin basket. I added a 300mm extension on top of the GB4 so I can run a 120l charge which will produce 60litres of 40% gin right out of the condensor. Anyway great piece of gear.
    To answer the question if you just want to start cheaply go for a 50l milk can boiler the 4" 4 plate column and a GB4. If you want to practice for commercial production and you have friends who like gin go for a 100l boiler.
    I am making my runs at 30litres of final gin product so I am practicing a decent volumes, I am just testing recipes. One thing that you will find is your friends all like free gin.

  • The biggest challenge I have found when doing small quantities is being able to source good quality botanicals. It has been more successful for me to macerate and immerse the botanicals in the boiler in order to achieve a good flavour.

    It is even more of a challenge to replicate a successful recipe when doing small batch runs.

  • Hobby?

    Try hand sorting your botanicals.

  • edited August 28

    Whoaa guys this is so helpful already!

    I really like those manuals, @crozdog thank you so much for sharing all this knowledge, I'm just printing the manuals, this will be a great read today! One question here, why do you prefer pot still later? And one mathematical question, with your process, if you wanna get lets say 25l of Gin at the end, how much wash do you have to start with, roughly?

    @DonMateo, those calculations are really helpful! Made me think I start with modified keg maybe, around 50l, as crozdog suggested and later change to something bigger if I go to regular production. So then you actually make everything in one run already with your approach. But buying neutral, isn't that pretty expensive?

    @geoff400 thanks for the input, will keep that in mind;)

    What about all the other necessary parts and accessories, beside Boiler, Dash, Basket, like Heater etc., as I'm still trying to calculate the approximate "starting" price here as well, and don't wanna miss something out.

    And thanks for the nice welcome!

  • @marsi. Not where I live. I am setting up my distillery in Mendoza Argentina so I can get neutral for about US$1.5 per litre. Which is amazingly cheap compared to other parts of the world. So if you have a 50 litre boiler and you put a in say 40 litres of water and 8 litres of neutral ( ie 20%), after the cuts you will get about 16 litres of bottle strength (40%) gin straight out of the condensor. If you want to make 25 litres then you can bump it up to 13 litres of neutral but then you will be about 30% abv on the charge and your gin will come out at about 50-55% and you will have to dilute it to get it down to bottle strength. keep in mind diluting the distillate also dilutes the flavor.
    If you want to make volumes of 25 litre runs then get a 100l milk can boiler. The 20% charge in the wash to make bottle strength gin straight out the spout is such a cool practice. It means the final gin you get is what your flavor will be. Also remember the flavor changes throughout the run.
    Have fun mate. I just love making gin. I second what Geoff says about botanicals. I got around that by buying my botanicals in bulk. ie 20kg of Juniper where I am using only 300 grams for a 30 litre run. I changed juniper and all my ratios were screwed up and had to recalibrate.

  • edited August 30

    @Marsi On a hobby level making your own neutral is the way to go (I thought that is where you were at which is why i suggested that approach)

    However on a commercial operation, there are 2 schools of thought, many will buy in GNS as @DonMateo says. It is pretty cheap everywhere due to the scale of the production. Make sure you check the quality as it does vary from supplier to supplier. The other way is to make your own. That's great from a marketing perspective as you can say you made it all and have control over the flavour profile eg still retain some grain or grape character for another dimension in the end gin.

    In regards to your question re how much wash to get 25l, it depends on the ABV of your wash, the still output ABV and how much you keep as the hearts cut. in rough theoretical terms, a 200l 10% wash will contain 25l of pure ethanol (in practice there will be other alcohols in there + you can't extract pure ethanol easily). If you retain 50% of what you collect as hearts, you will have 10l @ lets say 95%. If you dilute this down you will have about 24l @ 40%.

  • @grim said: Hobby?

    Try hand sorting your botanicals.

    I started out making my gin (macerated and distilled) maybe 15 years ago from Penzey's Spice Company botanicals (Albanian juniper) and now buy from Mountain Rose Herbs (the juniper is Kosovo juniper, not too far from Albania) and I have the same excellent results as with Penzey's.

    Gin is our best seller with grappa a not-so-close second, and people love the flavor.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • I should add I don't need to sort any of the spices, and never have.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • Talking about small batch quality, consistency and scaling.

    Dump your juniper out and start sorting out by size, sort by color - steel blue vs brown tinged, sort by moist/fresh vs drier.

    Weigh it out, you'll see what I mean. Oil quantities on small vs large, fresh vs old, moist vs dry is pretty wide.

    Just depending on the luck of the draw, you could see batch variation just due to how much really nice juniper you use, vs how much marginal juniper.

    All I'm saying is, if you are making really small batches, or trying to work in gram-level precision, consider taking the time to sort of the chaff, bad/broken pods, stems, lower quality. Not because that stuff isn't "good", just because it's easy to throw off your oil percentages when you are talking about working small.

    Big batches? Not going to matter, because you'll average out in the long run.

  • Our basic batch starts with 2 kg juniper berries and 1.2 kg coriander, and it's looking like we'll have to enlarge that pretty soon, but I take your point.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • I just did a 'no post-distillation dillution' run in my 380L..

    I placed a 8" SGU bubble tee on the 380L, then a 8" perf plate and a 8"x20" spool that I have insulation around. On top of that I have an 8"x8"x2" spool topped off with an 8" End cap. the vapor goes through the 2" side port tot he condenser.

    I put 3 5-gallon corny's of 190 proof 15g(60L) in and about 80g of water and fired it up with 21,700w (3x4500w and 2x4100w) and took a quart and shut power off, lifted off 8" end cap with gloves, dumped in about 3.5Kg total of botanicals and let he rip on full speed. (I did pick out the yellow dead juniper berries and sticks before putting a light crush on it.)

    I collected 29 gallons at 1 proof above my labeled proof, 88 proof, by recirculating the collecting tank and taking notes with proof and time to stop right at the number I then collected another gallon to add back as needed before bottling to get exact proof on the label.

    I would like to add an anti-drainback, (maybe the downcomer on the perf-plate dumping out the CIP port on the 8" SGT.) however the still just had a very faint color to the 'backset', and after a light rinse, it had no odor...

    The big surprise was the spent juniper... it was spent, but tasty, much softer and cooked, I think I could of used it as pie filling.... This is presumably due to the longer still run time needed by the lower proof still charge...

    Here is a video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsDN68F-6oM

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