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Calling the Gin Distillers and Botanical Alchemists for Help

As a newcomer to making Gin, I am trying to establish a reference point from which to create. Ideally I would like to make a gin as close to one of the commercial brands as possible, and then from there start to diversify with botanicals. Has anyone tried this and has anyone had any success with a gin recipe that comes close to any of the well known commercial or craft brands?



  • It'll take a significant amount of trial and error for you to even come close to mimicking a commercial, since not only do you need to get the botanical recipe down, but also account for process (which you will not find documented anywhere) and differences due to equipment.

    My suggestion would be to get a small 2 liter glass still and some very high quality neutral, and go from there. Probably the best recommendation I've seen yet is to build up a botanical distillate library. One botanical in neutral, and go ahead and distill. This way you are forced to learn the character and impact of each botanical.

    From there, go with what you like. I prefer gins that have a stronger citrus note than juniper, even though that goes against the typical standard of identity.

  • edited October 2014

    There's some very good information on Artisan in the Gin Thread..

    Dunno if it's exactly what you want, but worth a read nonetheless.

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

  • Hello @grim Thanks for the advice. Where would I get a 2 litre glass still online? Thats a great idea. Will also check the thread thanks @punkin

  • daddad
    edited November 2014

    Below is a reprint from a book. It doesn't lineup perfectly when copied and pasted, but gives most of the ingredients in commercial gins at the time of published. I can't remember (old age) where I got it!

    GIN…botanical info by brand

    1. Tiger Gin
    2. Gordon's Distilled London Dry Gin
    3. Beefeater London Distilled Dry Gin
    4. Plymouth Gin
    5. Bombay Distilled London Dry Gin
    6. Bombay Sapphire Distilled London Dry Gin
    7. Mercury Gin
    8. Juniper Green London Dry Gin
    9. Van Gogh Gin (Holland)
    10. Citadelle Gin (France)

    Botanicals used -------

    Gin Brand |see above| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
    Juniper             | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X 
    Coriander           | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X 
    Angelica root       | X |   | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X 
    Cassia              | X | X | X |   | X | X | X |   | X | X 
    Cinnamon            | X |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | X 
    Liquorice           | X |   | X |   | X | X | X |   | X | X 
    Bitter almonds      |   |   |   |   | X | X | X |   | X | X 
    Grains of Paradise  |   |   |   |   |   | X |   |   | X | X 
    Cubeb berries       |   |   |   |   |   | X |   |   | X | X 
    Bitter orange peel  |   |   | X |   |   |   |   |   |   |   
    Sweet orange peel   | X |   |   | X |   |   | X |   |   | X 
    Lemon peel          | X |   | X | X | X | X | X |   | X | X 
    Ginger              |   | X |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   
    Orris root          | X |   |   | X | X | X | X |   | X | X 
    Cardamon            | X |   |   | X |   |   |   |   |   | X 
    Nutmeg              | X | X |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | X 
    Savory              |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | X |   | X 
    Violet root         |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | X 
    Cumin               |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | X 
    Aniseed             |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | X 
    Fennel seed         |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | X 

    The total amount of botanicals used is about 20-35 grams/litre. If we take the dominant botanical juniper as 'x', the proportions of the botanicals used is:

    • x = juniper
    • x/2 = coriander
    • x/10 = angelica, cassia, cinnamon, liquorice, bitter almonds, grains of paradise, cubeb berries
    • x/100 = bitter & sweet orange peel, lemon peel, ginger, orris, root, cardamon, nutmeg, savory, calamus, chamomile, fennel, aniseed, cumin, violet root.

    If we use x = 20g then x/2 = 10g, x/10 = 2g, x/100 = 0.2g (200mg)
    Some current gins do not have a pronounced juniper character as they are used for cocktails and are more of a flavored vodka - for this type of gin for 'x' use equal quantities for juniper & coriander (i.e. x = 20g composed of 10g of juniper & 10g of coriander)
    The botanical are macerated in 45%abv neutral alcohol (usually for 24 hours), redistilled and then diluted to 42%abv which is an optimal strength for holding the flavour of the botanicals. Only the middle run (80-85%abv) is used to produce a high quality gin. Plymouth Gin also comes in a 57%abv 'Navy Strength' and which is also the British 100 proof strength.

    Bombay Sapphire Gin uses a Carterhead Still which contains a botanicals basket through which the vapour passes, a technique which gives a lighter flavour.

    All gins include juniper and coriander as an ingredient along with other botanicals. Typically a fine gin contains 6-10 botanicals, although the Dutch Damask Gin has 17, and the French Citadelle Gin has 19 - but this could be more for marketing reasons and has been criticized for lacking direction.

    Some American gins mention chamomile as a botanical which would give a blue tinge to the gin.

    Botanical names:

    juniper            - juniperis communis
    coriander          - coriandrum sativum
    angelica           - archangelica officinalis
    cassia             - cinnamonum cassia
    cinnamon           - cinnamonum zeylanicum
    liquorice          - glycyrriza glabra
    bitter almond      - prunus dulcis, amara
    grains of paradise - afromumum melegueta
    cubeb berries      - piper cubeb
    bitter orange      - citrus aurantium
    sweet orange       - citrus sinensis
    lemon              - citrus limon
    ginger             - zinziber officinalis 
    orris root         - iris florentina
    cardamon           - elletaria cardamomum
    nutmeg             - myristica fragrans
    savory             - satureja hortensis
    calamus            - acorus calamus
    chamomile          - matricaria chamomilla
    violet root        - viola odorata
    cumin              - cuminum cyminum
    aniseed            - pimpinella anisum
    fennel             - foeniculum vulgare

    The usual mash for English gin is 75% maize, 15% barley malt and 10% other grains, although rectified spirit from molasses is also used.

    Dutch gin originally was made from 1/3 malted barley and 2/3 rye meal, although these days the proportions given is 1/3 malted barley, 1/3 rye, 1/3 maize.

    (Keep in mind the suggested formula has been based on published material and not on experience.)

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • buy the ACE of Hearts, but not sure they have the T500 boiler yet edited; Get some SD filter disks they fit the CD gaskets, then measure the ID and OD of the glass section and call GreatGlass and order a 1ft section and then you can pack that with your botanicals

    The day you quit learning is the day you start dying!

    "I am an incurable gadgeteer, and I like enormously to set up a theory and then track down the consequences" Murray Leinster

  • edited October 2014

    @Dad Thank you, this is perfect! ^:)^

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • edited November 2014

    @craftspirits said: Hello grim Thanks for the advice. Where would I get a 2 litre glass still online? Thats a great idea. Will also check the thread thanks punkin

    You can buy all the parts for a glass 2l still from scientific suppliers.

    I have a 1l version.


    800 x 600 - 66K

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

  • Whatcha brewing in the boiler section @punkin now that's a interesting science project.

    The day you quit learning is the day you start dying!

    "I am an incurable gadgeteer, and I like enormously to set up a theory and then track down the consequences" Murray Leinster

  • @craftspirits try this mate:

    Glass Essential Oil Steam Distillation Glassware Kit,W/Graham Coil Condenser @ eBay

    I can't stress enough how important safety is when playing with new toys like this, high temperatures and ethanol/ethanol vapour. There's a few essential items you'll need to be able to use this setup but the same supplier will have most if not all you need.



  • edited November 2014

    If you are going to use the boiling flask, go ahead and buy an electric mantle, they are cheap nowadays and much safer than trying this with a gas or alcohol burner. Another option is just to use a heated stir plate and an erlenmeyer (stir plate can serve double duty for making yeast starters), and you get a built-in agitator too.

    Also realize that the raw glass distillation setups will require lab stands with clamps at a minimum, probably taper clips too. You'll want to find a quiet corner to set this up in, or keep stored in. It's all too easy to break. Use a dab of glycerine for the joint.

  • edited November 2014

    Here is the info @dad provided in a table I found somewhere. Gin Recipes (PDF)

    You will notice the ratios align pretty well with what I state in the Gin guide.

    @craftspirits, if you haven't already, have a read of the gin guide - it will help you quite a bit I think.

    gin recipes.pdf
  • @crozdog, looks like that table is for a 4 or 5L neutral charge, great reference point.



  • Thank you @Dad and @crozdog. Where would I find the gin guide or is that the gin thread referred to by @punkin? No mention of Tanqueray or Hendricks in that list. Any ideas of their recipes?

  • edited November 2014

    You'll find it in the manuals thread at the top of the home page.

    Tanquery apparently only has 4 ingredients…juniper, coriander, angelica root and liquorice which are added to the spirit just before distillation. 10 is made using whole citrus fruit, including white grapefruit, lime, and orange, along with juniper, coriander, and a hint of chamomile flowers (according to their website)

    Hendricks includes cucumber & bulgarian rose. from memory it is a blend of gins made by macerating & redistilling & from a carter head. Have a look at How Is Handrick's Gin Made - Ingredients & Distilling for ingredients and more info

  • Thank you @crozdog for your input and the manual. What a great piece of work and useful information to go with the Gin basket. I am going to bug you one more time for your opinion on the ratio's used for Tanqueray with the 4 botanicals you mention. My guess is 62% Juniper; 35% Coriander; 2% Liquorice and 1% Angelica

  • edited November 2014

    @Manofconstantsorrow said: Whatcha brewing in the boiler section punkin now that's a interesting science project.

    Rose petals mate, for a spirit i made once called Turkish Delight.

    Turkish Delight-Development Thread @ AD

    Thread ends with no outcome as i eventually gave up on it after not being able to hold the flavours i wanted and getting a big muddle.

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

  • edited November 2014

    @craftspirits I haven't looked into Tanquery until now so I can't advise you on ratios - you'll have to do some experimenting ;-) maybe do 4 individual macerations (1 for each botanical) then experiment by mixing up various ratio combinations - make sure you draw up a table of the various ratios & record your impressions - both aroma & taste for each one.

    That said, I have found there is some useful info out there including Tanqueray Gin Foundry which states:

    The four botanicals thought to be used are juniper, coriander seed, angelica root and liquorice root all combining to create a smooth gin, well balanced, juniper dominant .... domestic 43.1%ABV and export strength 47.3% ABV.....The lack of citrus botanical makes it slightly drier than some other gins but coriander adds both piquancy and lemon on the nose.

    Therefore i think you are on the right track but should reduce the amount of corriander seed so its more juniper focussed

    The comment "it is still done in a one shot distilling method. Multiple-shot production is when a recipe is several times stronger than the original is macerated and distilled to produce a super concentrated gin, which is then diluted to bring the botanical intensity using neutrol alcohol back in line and tasting like the original recipe" makes it appear to be a macerated spirit rather than produced using a carter head...

    The Difference Between Tanqueray Gin and Tanqueray 10 Gin @ Drink Spirits agrees it is predominantly juniper driven.

    Tanqueray from issue 15 of CLASS Magazine @ diffordsguide states:

    The wheat neutral spirit on which Tanqueray gins are based is produced in the rectifiers housed in another part of Cameron Bridge and is in fact the same base spirit used to make Smirnoff vodka

    If you are an all grain brewer making your own wheat based neutral the statement "two different types of water in the gin's production. Water extracted from a deep bore hole on the distillery's grounds is blended with demineralised water to mirror the character of London water" is important

    "Tanqueray's recipe has remained unchanged since 1830 and has three dominant botanicals: Tuscan juniper, angelica root and coriander, contributing to Tanqueuray's crisp, dry style with a rich juniper flavour. The forth botanical, liquorice, is less obvious but no less important to the perfect balance of this blend of botanical flavours."

    Difford's article also states it is a macerated spirit "Some distillers believe that the botanicals should be left for a period to steep in the neutral alcohol before commencing distillation. The folk at Tanqueray are in the other camp who start to distil immediately believing that a long period of maceration is either unnecessary or even detrimental as it 'stews' the botanicals."

    Hope that helps

  • Thanks @crozdog. Much appreciated mentoring.

  • Coriander Essence taste really good but smells like a dead mouse !!

    This is a great discussion thanks for all the information, I'm new to distilling but have been collecting and building for years until this Christmas when I eventually had time to assemble everything and make a start, First I finished my 50litre SS beer barrel still with copper reflux tower, (I made 3 cleaning runs then a test run with cheap vodka) since cleaning I've made 5 litres of grappa from red wine, 5 litres from white wine and 10 litres vodka from a sugar and turbo yeast mash. I can achieve 86% purity.

    A Google search lead me to this discussion because I want to make Gin I also have a glass laboratory still so after reading Grim's comment "My suggestion would be to get a small 2 liter glass still and some very high quality neutral, and go from there. Probably the best recommendation I've seen yet is to build up a botanical distillate library. One botanical in neutral, and go ahead and distill. This way you are forced to learn the character and impact of each botanical." I decided to make my own Botanicals Library, using Dad's comment with the really useful recipes to calculate required quantities of each botanicals, and thinking placing the botanical ( 200grams of pounded Juniper berries ) in a newly made copper chamber installed above the 600mm glass condensing column above this I have a digital thermometer in the bend that connect to my glass Liebig condenser. I put 1.1 litres a 46% ABV made from my neutral diluted with spring water in the boiler and produced 1 litre of Juniper Essence when diluted back down to 46%.

    Feeling confident I was doing the correct thing I cleaned the still with hot water then pure alcohol. My next botanical Coriander seed this time 100grams with 550ml in the boiler at 46% I used a series of jars discarded the first 50ml of heads (although I'm not sure if this is necessary as I'm distilling good clean product) then dividing the distillate every 100ml the essence tastes lovely and produced 500ml of coriander essence when diluted back down to 46%. I closed up the jars and left for a few hours. I don't know what I've done wrong but when I opened the coriander essence it smell really bad, the flavour is lovely but obviously I cant use my coriander essence. I have bought some more coriander seeds today from a different supplier but would like to advise before proceeding.

    Thanks Bill

  • Can you describe the type of smell? I'm sorry, I do not have a cat ..... From my modest point of view it seems too much of botanicals. Is not your juniper essence very hard in juniper? Have you tried to stretch a small proportion of your coriander essence?

  • Typo final sentence should read would like your advice before proceeding.

  • Here are people who can offer much more useful advice than I do. But based on my idea that you use too much botanical charge, you would try using a small part of your essence to use your neutral to stretch your essence proportionately and test. 4 example, take 100 ml of your 46% coriander essence and add for example 25% pure alcohol (11.5 ml) and dilute again to 46%, smell again and see if it changes to better. Is not your first juniper essence very hard in juniper? I repeat: Here are people who can offer much more useful advice than I do. It's just an idea

  • edited January 2017

    Wow, that's a lot of coriander, I agree with @XEIP, you are making some serious concentrates if you are getting full extraction. A quarter pound in half a bottle, basically.

    It's common with many aromatic compounds that at higher volumes they come across very different than at low levels. I used to live near a flavor manufacturing plant, one day a drum of butterscotch flavor punctured, and poured straight extract all over the neighborhood. It was nauseating. They let kids of our school, people went to the hospital with headaches. A cloud of butterscotch wafted three or four towns over. It was not at all pleasant, it didn't smell like candy, it smelled like chemical warfare. They made hazmat come out and clean the drips from the street, the entire route of the truck.

    You can try to dilute down with neutral, as suggested. I would actually take a dropper, another few hundred ml of neutral or vodka - and slowly drip in, drop by drop. Actually probably a pretty good exercise, since aromas are not linear.

    I would imagine a good starting point would be 10g per 500ml neutral. Any thoughts on that from the wider group?

    Also, not sure if because of the volume, you ended up really cooking the botanicals down.

  • edited January 2017

    Also on the cat piss - don't coriander and some types of hops (Citra) - share a number of chemical compounds (linalool, geranyl, etc etc). Some of these hops tend to be described as cat piss as well. So maybe not far off.

    The Contribution of Geraniol Metabolism to the Citrus Flavour of Beer: Synergy of Geraniol and β-Citronellol Under Coexistence with Excess Linalool
    Kiyoshi Takoi1,2,*, Yutaka Itoga3, Koichiro Koie3, Takayuki Kosugi1, Masayuki Shimase1, Yuta Katayama2, Yasuyuki Nakayama1, and Junji Watari1
    J. Inst. Brew. 116(3), 251–260, 2010

    Edited by @Moonshine: Link to Wiley Online Library removed because of 403 Forbidden error.

    The behaviour of hop-derived monoterpene alcohols during fermentation by lager yeast was previously investigated in this laboratory. It was suggested that the concentration of geraniol and β-citronellol in the finished beer increased depending on the initial concentration of geraniol in the wort. In addition, an addi- tive effect among linalool, geraniol and β-citronellol was found and 5 ug/L of geraniol and β-citronellol was enough for this effect. In this paper, conditions regarding the enrichment of the initial concentration of geraniol in the wort were investigated. From the screening of various hop cultivars, Citra hop was se- lected as a geraniol-rich cultivar. In addition, it was observed that coriander seed, which can be used in beer production as a flavourant, contained not only linalool but also geraniol at high levels. The use of Citra hop or coriander seed was effective for enriching the concentration of geraniol and β-citronellol in the finished beers. In the Citra beer and in the coriander beer, the content of linalool was excess in comparison with the content of geraniol and β-citronellol. Therefore, the synergy of geraniol and β-citronellol, under coexistence of excess linalool, was ex- amined. It was found that the flavour impression of excess li- nalool became more fruity and citrus by coexistence with gera- niol and β-citronellol and that the coexistence of all three monoterpene alcohols was effective for this synergy. The flavour characteristics of the Citra and coriander beer and the impor- tance of geraniol metabolism for a citrus flavour in beer are discussed.

  • edited January 2017

    Brewing Features - A Taste for Hops - Exploring the History and Mystery of Flavor Hops - All About Beer Magazine - Volume 34, Issue 2

    First, the bad news. Although both Citra hops and coriander contain significant amounts of the essential oils geraniol and linalool, substituting coriander for Citra hops in an India pale ale recipe will not produce an award-winning IPA. There’s good news to come, but first, let’s dig into a few basics.


    The concentration or amount of a given compound alone is not an indicator of its contribution to aroma, but it is relevant whether it occurs above or below its threshold of detection.

    Depending on a compound’s concentration, the sensory perception of that compound can change. Less can be more, which is why thiols at low levels result in pleasant fruity aromas, but at higher levels are perceived as catty.

    Synergy and masking play a major role in perception. Synergy occurs when two or more compounds interact to create something different. Masking occurs when one compound suppresses the perception of another.

  • @grim . Thanks, a very useful texts.

  • Ummm, dunno about your dead mouse, but your problem certainly isn't high concentration of botanicals. I make a gin that I'm proud of, and it's selling very well inthe couple of months since introducing it. Because I started making gin a long time ago, and didn't want to "poison" my good still with highly aromatic botanical flavor, I've always used a tiny glass (not lab type) still to distill botanical macerated in ~55% neutral, the diluting that concentrated essence 1:8 with clean neutral.

    Currently (and I may be a couple of % off, but not much more; my notes are at the distillery) what I run in my 5-liter Erlenmeyer still is about 800 grams of good fresh juniper, and about 400 grams of coriander, plus the other odd and lesser botanicals, in perhaps 3 liters of liquid. I love gin day in the distillery, and so do the visitors, because the aroma is heavenly.

    Concentration is a red herring. Look somewhere else.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • Based on the fact that there is nothing categorical and all methods are good if the result is the one you want.@Zymurgybob If the translation of your texts does not deceive me, the proportion of juniper that Bill uses is 1.3 times higher than yours, but in the case of Coriander it is 2.7 times higher than yours, based on pure alcohol in the boiler. 5 L. at 55% = 2.75 L. of pure alcohol and you use 400 gr, it is 145 gr/L. of pure alcohol While @Bill9700 uses: 550 ml at 46% = 0.25 L. of pure alcohol and uses 100 gr, it is 395 gr/L. of pure alcohol. Please I want you to correct me @Zymurgybob and @Bill9700 if I'm wrong. I am very interested in hearing your opinion

  • @zymurgybob - but you are diluting your distillate 1:8, no?

  • edited January 2017

    @grim said: substituting coriander for Citra hops in an India pale ale recipe will not produce an award-winning IPA.

    True that.
    However, I make a Vienne lager with cracked corriander seeds added to the boil at the same time as the aroma hops that won numerous awards, back when I participated in the "bowling league" known as homebrew competition.

    The coriander's effect is synergistic with the malt and hops. No one has ever guessed that the pleasant, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel comes from corriander seeds. The effect is not corriander-like at all. The correct proportion of seeds and addition time took a while to get dialed in. (I grow my own seeds. cilantro/coriander grows like a weed)

    Belgian Wit biers take advantage of the effect.

    This effect does not translate to my gin.

    I save the cilantro leaves for my cooking. They taste like shit in beer.

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

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