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Developing Gin Recipe

N_D
edited January 22 in Recipes

Hi Guys!

We have spent last week to read all the threads here, the information and knowledge that is out here is truly invaluable. Our still is almost ready now, last couple of steps is taking place and we are planning to fire her up for the first time loaded with 96+% GNS in two weeks (Feedback on our configuration).

Now that we are starting the developing, lots of content read on the forum will save lots of time, but thought we run some questions to get some feedback based on your knowledge.

First, seems like many of you are agreed on diluting down to 20%ish ABV before distillation?

Since we are based in Scandinavia, we have to import some of the main botanicals to ensure the highest quality, upon the development our goal is to use a lot of local botanicals that grow here during the summer, we have them both dried and frozen (vacuumed) for development stage but the plan is to distill those botanicals when they peak in quality in the future (understood that the result will be way different then). To ensure the same product quality year-round and to be able to scale up, the best way must be MS-runs for those critical botanicals, right?

What’s your thoughts on developing a “recipe” with all the “basic” botanicals with fixatives in mind and then play around with the seasonal botanicals in single MS-runs and then add to the distilled basic recipe to achieve the final product that we are striving for.

This would obvious need a shitload of glass bottles and plenty of documenting and above all plenty of tasting (upside ;-)) to try to understand what happens during the resting.

Lots of questions but thought we kick it off from here.

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Comments

  • There are lots of people with more experience with me but I have done what you indicate. I make a "neutral gin" for blending the botanicals. For me a use a medium baseload of Juniper and Coriander, ie 15g per litre Juniper and 7.5g per litre of Corinader for a medium juniper gin. Then I used that to load up the minor botanicals in 1 litre test runs which I heat cycled. That process worked well. Remember to do some tests with your Juniper to know how heavy or light it is. The first time I did a gin run I only had a kilo of Juniper adn that lasted me 3 runs. Then I bought 20kg and the new juniper was MUCH heavier on the Juniper flavors. I went from 25 g/l to 15g/l of juniper for the same flavor. And as @grim says some botanicals change over time. My Pitanga gin changed a lot over 3 months ( which I only found out after 3 months). My London dry only got better and the Royal gin was great after 4 weeks but fantastic at 2 months. If only I could sell it. With Gin your on a journey of flavor discovery. Enjoy. A recent thing I discovered is that there if you do cuts on your gin, which you should based upon flavor, there is residual alcohol left in the still. So if you have a dedicated Gin still you dont have to dump out the backset all the time as you will be dumping residual alcohol which I understand in Vikinglandia is expensive and hard to get.

  • Thanks for your great contribution to the forum @DonMateo and it seems like we could have a lot to learn from you.

    If I get it right from other posts, you distill your “neutral gin” and then you do a maceration heat round with the “N G” plus minor botanical and put it in the freezer to achieve a quicker tasting test or was this only from having diluted GNS with all wanted botanicals for a quicker maceration test to check the quality of your botanicals?

    Have you worked anything with higher concentration of botanical/liter to dilute it later with GNS/Water to achieve larger volumes? I get that this is obviously not the way to start out and quality could be an issue.

    Like you guys say there is so many different methods and permutations to reach desired products. Since we are new in this, we like many others here have engineering background with an insane interest of food and booze, which makes this journey obsessive with modular still building and to get to create your own product from it.

  • @N_D. I am a beginner when it comes to this stuff but I have done a bit of experimenting with technique and recipes. There are lots of guys with more experience making gin out there. To answer your question yes. You make your "neutral Gin" and that way you get a clean spirit to heat cycle 1 litre recipe tests with the other botanicals. If you do maceration with the Juniper some of the heavy Juniper oils and tannins distort the flavor of the final macerated Gin. As for higher quantities of botanicals. My first one I screwed up the empirical model I use for my gin recipe development and I did a gin with 80g/l of Juniper. You could smell it on the other side of the room it was so strong. Almost too strong to drink. I did it anyway, taking it for the team in the name of science. So when I made the "neutral gin" it came out about 48% ABV and I diluted down to 40% and added botanicals. The only difficulty is that some botanicals are put in at such a very low amount, ie 1 gram per litre or less, that in one litre batches its hard to get some of the subtle effects that do come out in a vapor infusion at a larger amount. For example I just made a floral gin with Lavender and Rose. It took 3 test batches at a litre to get more or less the right balance and then I did a 20l run using my 150 boiler and running 50l of water and 10l of NGS. The final result is pretty good but the first I had to put in one lavender bud and 15 rose petals. They weighed almost nothing but when I did the 20l run it was a lot of lavender buds and rose petals and they really came out in the final vapor infusion.
    If you want to see how strong your juniper and coriander is make up 3 test batches in 1 litre with differing proportions of Juniper/coriander. ie make one at 25/12.5 g/l another at 15/7.5 g/l and another at 10/5. See which ones suits your flavors you want and what the other botanicals will be. A juniper forward is the first one, middle range is the second one, very light is the final 10/5 g/l ratio. If I am doing a light gin like my floral gin, I want light Juniper and Coriander. A full blooded London dry or my Royal gin was the 25/12. and middle range was the 15/7.5. But it all depends on the Juniper and coriander you have and how strong the flavors and oils are. Gin is such a personal thing. Try lots of other peoples gins see what flavors your looking for and then go exploring for them.

  • @N_D. I didnt answer your question sorry. I have done test recipes both ways, with a "neutral Gin" and just adding my botanicals in a 1 litre jar and adding NGS. The second method you have to more aware as the heavy juniper oils and tannins from the botanicals, shift the flavor a bit. These compounds and flavors dont carry over in a distillation. So both methods work. As for the heat cycling either put your gin on top of your fridge at the back ( which heats up and cools down) or heat it to 50 deg C for 20 mins and then let it cool and put in in the fridge until its about zero, do that about 3 or 4 times and then let it sit for a day or so. Then you will have a pretty decent indication of the final flavor. Remember tannins and some woody flavors dont carry over in the distillation so these test recipes are about 90% of what you will get from a distillation. Enough to test to see if one botanical is way to heavy.

    For example my floral gin the first time I put wayyyy to much Camomille in it which drowned out everything else, So I chucked it out. It was undrinkable. Next time I did it No cammomile and light on the lavender and rose. Still not balanced enough. Next time a lot more lavender and Rose and lighter on the Juniper and Coriander and then wooohoo.. I did the 20l run and its great. I just need to color it pink and then we have a winner. If your going to be using your wild herbs/flowers from Scandanavia there will no or very little reference on how to used them or how strong they will be so you will have to do your 1 litre test batches. Some thing happened with me. I got this local herb called Pintaga. First test batch I used at 2 grams per litre and it was really really heavy. Next batch at 1 gram was spot on so I ran it with a vapor infusion. I think now I should have run it at .75 but that will be the second run with vapor infusion.

  • @DonMateo said: So when I made the "neutral gin" it came out about 48% ABV and I diluted down to 40% and added botanicals. The only difficulty is that some botanicals are put in at such a very low amount, ie 1 gram per litre or less, that in one litre batches its hard to get some of the subtle effects that do come out in a vapor infusion at a larger amount. For example I just made a floral gin with Lavender and Rose. It took 3 test batches at a litre to get more or less the right balance and then I did a 20l run using my 150 boiler and running 50l of water and 10l of NGS. The final result is pretty good but the first I had to put in one lavender bud and 15 rose petals. They weighed almost nothing but when I did the 20l run it was a lot of lavender buds and rose petals and they really came out in the final vapor infusion.

    That’s been one of the questions we have been discussing regarding the botanicals that only needs 2% or even less, we have made a 10L tank that will work as a bain-marie inside the 50L milk-can. One way would be to macerate those botanicals and run them in the 10L tank which allows us to try out smaller runs, to get to understand how they behave once distilled, one other way would be to run them in the GB with 5-10x stronger and dilute down afterwards? Did you use the GB or maceration for the 1L test batch of lavender and rose petals?

    If I get it right, once you had your ratio for the floral gin you diluted your NGS to 16% ABV (based on that you run from 96+% ABV) and run the GB with all the botanicals for a one-shot distillation?

    Regarding the wild herbs/berries/flowers in Scandinavia your totally right that there is not much references out there, from my understanding a lot of them probably must be vapor infused in the end since they tend to be very delicate and some of them probably don’t work very well with too much heat as well.

    It makes me very happy that you seem to be very creative and it seems like you came up with some successful recipes, are you already selling commercially or is that your plan in the future?

  • @N_D. Its creativity born of desperation really. I just had a look at a shed that I am interested in buying. I have all the gear I need I just need a location and an address and I can start selling. My plan is to go full commercial and as fast as I can. Anyway lets see how the next week plays out.
    To answer your questions. I did use maceration to do the test batches of Lavender and Rose petals. Maceration with the botanicals heat cycled with alcohol does get most of the flavors, but as I said it also pulls out tannins and Juniper oils that you take a cut on in a vapor installation and or dont come over in the distillation. And your right actually I put in 20% abv but the last couple of times I have done runs my ABV of the final gin is about 48 % with some alcohol left in the boiler so I think 16% is the right range. On the vapor infusion for floral and berry flavors, Odin is a huge authority on gin and posts on other web boards and he said, and he is 1000% right, those type of flavors, florals and berries, do not do well in maceration over time. They are best in vapor infusion as they tend to come out in the middle run after the juniper and coriander and heavier flavors have come through. As I said your 1 litre test runs will get you to about 90% of the flavor that your going to get. You will figure out if one botanical over powers another or you have an OK balance and if your juniper/coriander levels are right for the other botanicals you have. If you have an OK balance to a 10l run and you will get final result.

    I will consider my efforts successful after I have sold a couple of thousand bottles. Most of my friends say great things about my gins, but they are getting free booze. And they are cheap drunks, well not that cheap. One thing I noticed is the world of gin is constantly evolving with lots of people trying different things and botanicals. In order to demonstrate "terroir" as they say in wine making, you should use your local botanicals, and thats what your doing. In the booze business your going into one of the most highly competitive industries in the world as a micro distillery the best thing you have to sell is local flavors and unique flavor combinations. So your on the right track. Keep at it mate, if only that your friends will like you for free booze. One thing I have done too is I have gotten lots of friends over or if there was a party for a lot of people taken along 3 or 4 different test batches for gin. What you will find is when people are offered a tasting they will always say yes. The other interesting thing is that when you put 4 different gins infront of 4 different people they will almost always say they like different ones. So if your starting up a distillery focussed on gins you need one or two killer recipes that everyone likes, and some others that some people like. Ask yourself the question would you travel or go to visit a brewery with only one flavor of beer. No. Here in Argentina where I live there are 3 or 4 start up distilleries with only 1 flavor of gin. They are selling out of their garage and dont have a distillery but even so no-one would visit them. So develop different recipes make large size vapor infusion runs of them and then do tastings for friends and acquaintences and figure out which recipes are the winners and which are OK, and which are not. I did a gin with hops. I kind of like it bit it is a bit bitter ( because it has hops) and only 1 in 10 people like it. My royal gin and the Pitanga gin 100% of people like. The mediteranean gin with italian aromatics about 4 out of ten people like. Gin is fun. So keep at it and explore.

  • edited January 24

    @DonMateo. I start around 18% of very clean spirit and using the GB4 with a little extra juniper in the vertical before basket. I then collect in say 2 l bottles and run down and average the bottles till I get 46% where I want it. Then mix them all. Very little alcohol left in boiler.

    So yes to get to around 40% I would agree 16% would be a closer starting point. I am only doing a 50 l boiler so don’t know how it would go upsizing but know you would not be able to use a GB4 any bigger without changing the basket during the run - which I do not want to do for duplication of run reasons. Just remembered you extended your GB4 which I might follow in the near future so you could go bigger quantities

  • Yes mate. I have a 200mm extension and a 400mm extension piece for the gb4. I dont like the idea of changing baskets during a gin run as the flavor changes so much through the run. The 200mm extension will get a second gin basket and the 400 will get 2 more for a total of three. I havent run more than one yet but I will next week. The last run i did i added the electric parrot on top of the condensor and took it down to 15% abv and then cut it on taste. I think i could have taken it down to 10% but it was a taste cut at the end. The next run i will do two baskets and run it down to 10 % and post the results. This will be a royal gin which is heavy on juniper and fills the basket to the top.

  • edited January 24

    @DonMateo Yes I understand the taste cut as it is getting watery down the bottom end with not a lot of flavor but down there I am looking for the water content to get my ABV where I want it without bringing over anything obnoxious

    Let us know how the GB4 with hungry boards go as will eventually go there. Probably only a 200 extension to use my second basket as I really don’t want to do more than a 50 l cook but if the funds appear I might go to an 80 l keg then I will def need extensions.

  • Hey @GD50!

    We’re running from 50l boiler as well. It seems like you add ~4.3L water per 1L GNS to get it to 18% ABV prior the run? Doing a run, have you played around something with how much you fill up the tank and compared the results based on that the GB4 only takes ~460g of botanicals? What I’m fishing for is if you guys have come across how much the GB4 should be filled with as minimum to get an accurate result.

    We have been discussing the scaling up as well as it will not be a steady process to scale up your recipes based on switching basket multiple times during the run. Your solution with multiple GB’s sounds interesting @DonMateo, have you posted any photos on that setup here?

    The project @grim is running with the continuous still is really really interesting as well, reading through his thread right now. It would be really interesting to have some inputs from his point of view as well on developing recipes.

  • edited January 25

    Sure. OK two photos attached one with the 200mm extension on top of the gb4 and the other is the 400mm extension by comparison.

    image

    image

    1.jpg
    450 x 800 - 86K
    2.jpg
    450 x 800 - 71K
  • I did have a 300mm extension piece but I am modifying that with another experiment. Its not using SD kit so I cant talk about it.

  • edited January 25

    @DonMateo. Yep that 200 extension is on my list as can use the second supplied basket nicely.

    @N_D Don’t know about minimum as my basket is very full. Still seems to leave pretty deflated botanicals behind after the run so the vapors seem to get thru a full basket nicely.

    For your info I have wound copper wire around the outside of my baskets to make them a tighter fit. And yes 460 gms is about the limit.

  • @GD50 said: DonMateo. Yep that 200 extension is on my list as can use the second supplied basket nicely.

    N_D Don’t know about minimum as my basket is very full. Still seems to leave pretty deflated botanicals behind after the run so the vapors seem to get thru a full basket nicely.

    For your info I have wound copper wire around the outside of my baskets to make them a tighter fit. And yes 460 gms is about the limit.

    Thanks for that info, it came to our understanding that it gives you higher efficiency from the GB if you make it a tighter fit to force the vapors through the botanicals.

  • Just watch out for blockage 8-X

  • @N_D I would strongly disagree. You don't want or need tight packing. The risk of blockage is too great but more importantly you want to treat the botanical like you would a lover...delicately and not rushed.

  • @TheMechWarrior said: N_D I would strongly disagree. You don't want or need tight packing. The risk of blockage is too great but more importantly you want to treat the botanical like you would a lover...delicately and not rushed.

    Thanks for your inputs! Since we haven’t made our first run yet (all because of government) all information is greatly appreciated. Your opinion is that the GB4 normal fit is preferable? It totally makes sense about treating your botanicals well, especially if you pay some extra cash to have top quality.

  • @themechwarrior. Your last description is very poetic but I had an ex girlfriend years ago that liked things hard and fast.
    Anyway yes dont pack your botanicals in. Just put them in lightly and mixed together.

  • @TheMechWarrior said: N_D I would strongly disagree. You don't want or need tight packing. The risk of blockage is too great but more importantly you want to treat the botanical like you would a lover...delicately and not rushed.

    Kk that made me feel kinda tickley some kinda way,,lol.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I am going to try the finger insertion test with my botanicals next time. I am sure mechwarrior has a similar test.

  • OMG, thanks for the laughs this morning.
    I needed them. :D

  • Maybe this should be in the big Gin thread. But I made some pink gin on Friday. There are various methods and I used dried pink hibiscus flowers added to my floral gin. it worked out well and I started with 5 petals in a 1 litre jar. And dumped them in, and it wasnt going so well so I added another 10. Big mistake. The went from a very nice soft pink to a dark pink bordering on Purple. So I think the way to do this in larger batches is to get the petals and put then in a strainer or filter bag. Put it in the petals in the gin, wait till you get the color you want and then take them out. Of note the hibuscis made no noticable change in flavor. But dont mascerate you want to attract the young women who can drink ( ie pink) and not their grandmothers ( purple).

  • Hey guys and gals. Has anyone here done a barrel aged Gin. I have a spare 50l french oak barrel and I was thinking of getting some gin aging out in there. I dont want too much Oak but along the same lines i dont want too much Juniper and other botanicals in there. I would guess a medium Juniper and Coriander load with some basic other botanicals but not too heavy on anything. Any guidance with out providing recipes.

  • My best one was regular gin recipe (good enough to sip straight out of a snifter) aged for a long time at bottling proof or not much above... I also did one at 140 proof and it was not as good.. I am back to the first method... IMHO, you don't want a hint of oak, you want quite a bit of flavor and color(say the color of scotch, not bourbon) to impress yourself and others...

  • @themechwarrior. I tried the other lover metaphor test with my botanicals. The finger insertion test. It was tight but dry. Should be a lot better at the end of the run. Should be .....

  • You're hilarious @DonMateo , I recounted our exchange to my wife this morning while having a great laugh. :D

  • Well I just finished the run. The finger insertion test was remarkably easy. Hot, wet and easy to insert your finger. Your wife might have a comment on that.

  • @themechwarrior. Congrats on your distillery mate. I am close to getting mine, or at least buying my shed. Then I can do gin finger insertion tests to my hearts content. And make some whiskey too.

  • Good couple of posts here! :))

    We are now really in the last step before we can start our pilot premises off. Right now we are waiting for the fire department to give us permission to handle over 500L flammable liquids with a flash point below 60 degrees celcius, how does the rules look like in your respective countries?

    We have recived lots of our botanical samples so in the hold up we might do some individual maceration tests with them according to @crozdog great guide.

  • edited February 1

    @DonMateo said: Hey guys and gals. Has anyone here done a barrel aged Gin. I have a spare 50l french oak barrel and I was thinking of getting some gin aging out in there. I dont want too much Oak but along the same lines i dont want too much Juniper and other botanicals in there. I would guess a medium Juniper and Coriander load with some basic other botanicals but not too heavy on anything. Any guidance with out providing recipes.

    Barrel-aged gin has become quite the rage here in the States over the last couple of years. I tried several really nice ones at the ADI's Gin Summit in Portland last March. What I found was: used red wine barrels produce superior gin. Used vermouth barrels produce excellent gin. New oak barrels can produce astringent gin (be careful with the time on oak). Used bourbon barrels produce gin flavored bourbon. YMMV.

    Just signed up for the ADI's Gin Summit in Denver this coming March. I suspect there will be a few barrel-aged gins to taste there as well. I'll let you know what I find.

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

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