Configuration Advice for Gin

First of all, hi to everyone here. I've been doing a lot of post reading and very impressed by how friendly and knowledgeable you all are! We've just got our license and are at the start of our journey to make a top notch gin. Very keen to get a StillDragon still together so looking for advice on the best small batch starter kit. Want to start with a churn still and a Carter head. Ceiling space limited in our current premises so need to remain compact! Starting with NGS we aim to vapour infuse and macerate. Any pointers on mistakes to avoid and the ideal kit gratefully received!


  • Welcome. Buying in NGS is a very good way to start and pretty cheap compared to fermenting and distilling your own.

    Most people i have spoken to run it through and make some cuts on top to clean it up, although distillers i've spoken to in Australia have said that the quality has improved immensely over the last twenty years.
    One guy said the GNS is cheaper for him to buy than the water he uses to dilute it. It also takes ceiling height into perspective when you need less plates for that part.

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

  • Thanks @punkin. I am a bit confused about the need to run cuts when starting with GNS especially if vapour infusing! How many plates between still head (50l) and Carter would you suggest?

  • You basically want to do a gin run with the highest possible quality neutral you can, and often times gns may not be up to that standard yet, so operators will 'polish' it up by running it through a still to cut out any remaining heads and tails before doing the vapor infusion

  • Thanks @brewsmith. We're sourcing 96% pure single grain for the trial. I've read we need to dilute down to 40% then macerate then run the distillation. Would you agree? With pure spirit, will we still need to take cuts?

  • edited July 2015

    The master distillers (award winners) i have spoken to take the GNS, run it through five or six plates and take their own cuts. Then they dilute again and run it through a pot still with a gin basket.

    I would not suggest running the column and gin basket together if you can afford to have a dedicated Gin rig, or if you can design a way to switch from one to the other.

    I am not a commercial distiller though, i am a supplier of equipment. :)>- Best to do a run with some GNS and then taste it with some water at 30% or so against the original gns and make up your own mind. If it's no better then it's a waste of time and power (unless you want to claim that it is distilled on the premises form local and imported ingredients ;) ). If it's significantly better than it tastes out of the drum then it's up to you to decide whether that time and money is worth the improvement (and the satisfaction of knowing it's your spirit).

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

  • Hi @punkin. I was kinda thinking that was the ultimate route for us. We will be a little tight on budget until we can get a saleable product so will be aiming for a 50l milk churn with a Carter head to start. By the nature of the kit, we might be able to afford some plates and switch between. I know we aren't in your region (we're UK based) but could you suggest a good starter rig for us? Would love to go back to Tassie, the fishing a amazing!!!

  • I always suggest the Crystal Dragons if there are going to be tours or a viewing room. The Dash if you are heavy handed.

    The 4" rigs are best suited to the milk can boilers and can be upgraded to 120l boilers, 200l at a pinch.

    I would suggest between 4 and 6 plates for the neutral runs to clean up the GNS and i would use Procaps as it will shorten run times on a 50l 40% charge.

    The GB4 will switch out for such a small column in no time and a cable from the wall or roof will allow you to just swing the column out of the way and put the Gin Basket on if you didn't want to pull the column down regularly.

    Never been to Tassie, we have trout round here but i have never fished for them as i don't eat trout (taste like mouldy carpet) and we have local fish (including euro carp) that would pull the trout backwards.

    Cold enough in my area this time of year without going half way to the south pole. :))

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

  • @punkin said:... we have trout round here but i have never fished for them as i don't eat trout (taste like mouldy carpet)

    I think that says more about your local rivers than trout :(

    They can be wonderful out of a crystal mountain stream. Straight out of the water in to a pan with hot butter.

  • Some folks recommend a lower ABV charge on the botanical run as 1 way to minimise the requirement to dilute the product.

  • I've been wondering about ABV on botanical runs for a while but not so much in that regard.

    Is sending 30% vapour vs 97% vapour through the botanicals likely to strip different components out?
    You could even do a straight steam distillation then add the resulting colloid to cold spirits.

    I suppose there's no substitute for experimentation but is this over complicating it a bit?
    Is it purely the heat that strips the flavors? So the only difference between using straight water and azeo is only 21'ish degrees?
    That's sounds like more a question for an organic chemist rather than the black magic world of distilling but it's an interesting thought.

    I've been thinking about having another go at gin. Doing all the components separately then combining afterwards to taste, at the very least, just to design a finished recipe with the right ratios that can be run in one shot in the future.

    Does anyone have some good links they could put up?
    Vapour infuse vs Macerate?
    Optimum vapour temp for differing spices/herbs/profiles?

  • I completely agree with punkin re the GNS - the quality can vary. Some distilleries I know of use it for gin straight out of the drum while others do a quick run to remove heads / tails & others carbon filter. It will all depend on the quality you can get.

    You said: "We're sourcing 96% pure single grain for the trial. I've read we need to dilute down to 40% then macerate then run the distillation. Would you agree?"

    You are mixing up 2 methods of making gin - vapour infusion & maceration. There is no need to macerate with a carter head. As far as dilution goes, yes dilute it into your boiler before running your carter head. you don't want to run 96% in your boiler!!

  • @crozdog i thought the same thing... hell if they are going to experiment maybe a maceration, vapor infuse carter head, and a bathtub maceration to finish it off. Could be one strong gin or could taste like your licking a juniper tree =)). @WreckingCoast carter head is all that is needed for a dry style gin, your could macerate and carter head, or marcerate, distill, and macerate again like a bathtub style (that is very similar to how absinthe is made.) In the end your product is your recipe but keep cost in mind when working with botanicals it can get very expensive fast.

  • Different processes involved and well worth experimentation. What are the options?

    1. Vapour passing vertically through botanicals. - This is evaporation of volatiles, that are then transported in the vapour stream.
    2. Vapour condensing onto botanicals. - Hot solvent extraction.
    3. As 2 + hot condensate washing through botanicals. - Again hot solvent extraction.
    4. Cooled condensate washing over botanicals. - Cold solvent extraction.
    5. In boiler. - Mixture of solvent and aqueous extraction.

    No.1 is ideal for some of the more delicate citrus peels. No5. for hard roots and barks. Everything else take your pick!!!

  • Trial and error with small kit till we get our profiles right I guess! Has anyone done a macerate for hard botanicals with lighter in carter head to get an all in one run London?

  • edited July 2015

    You know, @crozdog is too modest to say so, but there is a shitload of good info on gin making in his StillDragon Gin Basket Operation Manual posted right here in River City (StillDragon Community Forum).

    I have learned how to make most highly excellent gin using this manual. It will save you from pursuing many untamed ornithoids in your quest for producing quality gin.

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

Sign In or Register to comment.