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Identifying Flavours

Hi All,

I’m still very early in my journey and have done very few full runs. Just two gins one from TPW and one from the Kale recipe on here, and a rum from molasses and sugar.

I’m not happy with the results although I think the second gin was a big improvement. There is just something a bit ‘off’ with the product each time and I am struggling to describe it.

I find it difficult to identify flavours and aromas - can anyone point me in the right direction for some sort of resource that can help? I’m hoping if I can identify the off notes you guys can tell me where they are coming from and what I’m doing wrong :-).

Don’t get me wrong I’m still very much enjoying this, even if I’m doing it badly!



  • edited September 2019

    You are using the wrong medium to learn if you ask me. Gin is such a complex and changeable spirit and rum (although good learning white) is such a complex spirit in the changes it undergo's as it ages.

    If you do some simple UJSM style white whiskeys and learn your cuts on that it will be cheap and easy. Repeat the same simple UJSM recipe over and over, make your cuts according to the guides here the next day, then tip three batches back in, run it again and again and in the end call it vodka, but you will learn the flavours of the heads, hearts and tails.

    Then when you have that section down, try a gin or a more complex spirit and start learning the hearts flavours and what small changes may do.

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

  • If you want good Gin, you need to make neutral so clean you can sip it with a smile at 100 proof and down a pint at 10 proof without hesitation... if it is not that clean, get more plates and/or a taller packed section and run slower with tighter hearts cut...

    Then, and only then, add small amounts of botanicals... you may use 15g/liter of Juniper, but .005 grams of many things like sweet orange, grains of paradise, anise, etc are too much...

    I suggest making a botanical library with your finest neutral, search the gin threads on this forum for @Kapea's 'one note songs' that are single botanical GB4 distillations... I also did this with a 2L glass lab still.... but the neutral must be your best stuff...

  • @Dreamer said: I find it difficult to identify flavours and aromas - can anyone point me in the right direction for some sort of resource that can help?

    So the best help for that is experience. The best way to learn is by tasting a large number of spirits. It's really hard to understand good/bad is by tasting stuff tons of stuff and deciding for yourself or discussing it with a group of people. Look up tasting wheels (whiskey, gin, etc) and see what you find. If you're spendy you can buy sensory/aroma kits. As for off flavors you can get those in kits. Otherwise you have to make a mistake to learn it.

    Also read the book "Tasting Whiskey" by Lew Bryson. It's based around whiskey but the principals are the same for gin.

    Sensory Kits @ Lallemand Brewing

  • As a matter of interest, what type of still are you using?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited September 2019

    what @CothermanDistilling said. About 12 months ago I went to Lima Peru to bring some of my booze to a mate of mine and I brought a couple of Gins. So we sit down in this sidewalk bar area attached to the hotel and we are trying some of my different drinks. I brought two whiskeys and a couple of gins. The waiter came up and asked what we were drinking and I told him I was having my mate try some samples. In about 5 minutes the bar tender and restaurant manager were over and they brought 4 different craft spirits to add to the tasting. One of them was a Gin made from neutral from sugar cane. The gin was made by a German woman who settled in Quitos which is a town in the Peruvian Amazon and she was making gin using Amazonian fruits and some berries. To be honest the Gin was far to fruity to me but more than that it tasted like Juniper flavored white Rum. My mate was indifferent to it as he likes rum. This thing wasnt a rum and it wasnt a gin. Hats off to the woman for trying. When the bartender and manager tried my booze they thought that mine were fantastic. The local one not so good. But I was using really clean GNS and vapor infusion. Only way to go in my opinion.

    Try a lot of gins, make your recipes in 1 litre batches and then heat cycle them. ( you heat them up to 40 degrees) seal the jar and put them in the freezer, after about 12 hours you take them out. do that a few times and you will get a pretty decent idea of what your gin will be like. Then start making 10 litre batches and sooner or later you will have a decent idea of what you like. And the flavor wheel is a huge help. With all my gins I tried 1 litre batches and then went to 10 litre product runs.

  • also, let fresh gin air out for 2-5 days... word of difference...

  • edited September 2019

    Thanks for all the comments. Lots to try here.

    @CothermanDistilling i think you hit the nail on the head about neutral. I don’t think I’m getting that good enough in the first place.

    @Smaug I have 6 plates and a 510mm packed section, but don’t have enough ceiling height for all of it so I think I ran 5 plates and the packed section for the last neutral. For the first neutral it was just 6 plates. The packed section has ss scrubbies in. Also have the sd controller and gin basket.

    @punkin I love your idea but (and maybe this should go in the confession thread)... I don’t like whisky. Maybe I just need more practice at that too though.

  • Brandy then.

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

  • That I can do, is there a UJSM equivalent for brandy?

  • Yeppers. Make wine and then distill it.

    In the states i know they have cheap grape concentrate, not sure where you are or if that's available to you.

    In Australia people tend to wait for harvest time and go to the wineries with box trailers.

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

  • edited September 2019

    Tarax grape juice concentrate is reasonable price in South Oz. I had a few good Pisco attempts using it. They have a few different types and musts. @Dreamer is in Perth - not sure if they do a local concentrate in WA

  • My friend from Canada who was born in Italy had friends in AU, when he visited them years back, they were near a large automated barefoot winery that used large mechanized pickers, and they let the locals go in by hand and get anything left over... I guess it was a lot... back home in Windsor, ON, the shops would get trucks of grapes in crates every year and have a de-rasper on site, he would bring the crushed grapes home, ferment for a week, then put through his big old 1929 ratcheting wine press in the basement and fill an old hiram walker barrel...

  • Sounds like a few night raids on the swan valley to fill up the boot of my mini then.

    Too easy.

  • @dreamer it wont take long to fill up your the boot of your mini. ha ha ha. Probably about 20 minutes really.

  • Or you could go in the morning and ask politely. Surprising what you can get for a bottle of hand crafted spirits.

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

  • @punkin at this point it’s the hand crafting that’s the problem!

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