web analytics

Water into wine? Pff! Hold my G&T

Pictured: juniper berries. Mine are coming tomorrow.

As a gin drinker, I’ve been itching to try ginifying vodka. None of this artisanal swill for this little weasel, mostly because I can’t afford it. But infusing neutral spirits with flavorings is a perfectly acceptable way of making gin. Deprecated, but acceptable.

The earliest gin was made with a pot still. This is a primitive kind of still that lets through a fair amount of water along with the alcohol, resulting in a weaker and more flavorful gin than we’re used to. The botanicals would be put in with the mash (called a wash, in the case of a distilled liquor) and enough of it came through that the flavors persisted. Many of today’s small-batch artisanal gins are made this way.

Later column distillers make a much purer alcohol, but the flavorings wouldn’t make it through. Hence distilled gin or London dry is put once through the column still, then the botanicals are added, then it’s put through a pot still.

But there’s a third type: compound gin. That’s where you take neutral spirits (cheap vodka, in my case) and add botanicals. It has a bad reputation because it was the method of choice for softening nasty homemade hooch. That’s what they did during Prohibition, using charming botanicals like turpentine.

Hence bathtub gin. You can’t distill alcohol in a bathtub, but you can take moonshine, flavor it, dilute it and bottle it in one.

But there’s nothing inherently inferior about compound gin. Gin-making kits, which you can find on the market, are perfectly legit. Wikipedia, it do say, “in 2018, more than half the growth in the UK Gin category was contributed by flavoured gin.”

Right, so juniper berries are the only essential. The article also mentions lemon and bitter orange peel, anise, angelica root and seed, orris root, licorice root, cinnamon, almond, cubeb, savory, lime peel, grapefruit peel, dragon eye (longan), saffron, baobab, frankincense, coriander, grains of paradise, nutmeg and cassia bark.

I’m thinking…juniper, tangerine and nutmeg. Yeah?


Comment from Gromulin
Time: January 18, 2022, 9:19 pm

As a Martini aficionado, I despise herbal Gins. Nothing worse than ordering one in a new restaurant only to be served nastiness with an olive. Give me Beefeaters or Gordons any day.

Comment from Pupster
Time: January 18, 2022, 10:58 pm

I like my gin with Mountain Dew™

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: January 19, 2022, 12:19 am

Juniper, tangerine and nutmeg sound like a great first trial run. Well-known ingredients and only a few. Once you’ve had some sipping time with it, you can consider ratio changes and additions.

My own experience with nutmeg, which I really like, leads me to offer this warning: a little goes a loooooong way and too much overpowers other flavors.

@Gromulin — Have you tried Boodle’s?

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 19, 2022, 1:05 am

This sounds fascinating! I have been musing about distilling something for a long time now, and recently I found out that you can actually buy tiny -copper- distilling setup, complete with thumper, for a few dollars.

In your case, you would put the juniper berries et all in the thumper for the extraction. ((Sorry, I just realized that I am talking about distilling to a mountain girl who surely knows much more than I do). I like the sound of your flavors, but I am hesitant about nutmeg. I always keep a few fresh nutmegs in the house and I think that would be the way to go (because of the fresh oils in the nutmeg) but nutmeg is so powerful that I thin a very little would go a very long way.

Can’t wait to hear how this goes!

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: January 19, 2022, 10:59 am

I tried this to make “mint” flavored stuff, cheap vodka and Mint Julep mint.

And it’s hard for me to dare to try it out because, yuck! I’m supposed to filter it I know, but yuck. It’s sitting in the booze cabinet waiting for Mrs D to discover and eliminate another of my “science experiments”. Almost a year I think.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: January 19, 2022, 2:49 pm

In a small area of Texas, there is a little bird named the Golden Cheeked Warbler. It is endangered, and it dines primarily on juniper berries. JavaSon suggested more than once that we produce a gin and name it after the bird, with a handsome portion of the income going to protect what is left of the little bird’s habitat. As an honorary Texan on account of your Ma, we’d be mighty pleased if you considered naming your gin after the Golden Cheeked Warbler.

And yes juniper, tangerine and nutmeg sounds wunnerful.


P.S. All my childhood Christmas trees were wild junipers, harvested on land near Possum Kingdom Lake, and the juniper fragrance is permanently imbedded in my memory. That could be why I am so fond of gin, although I’ve never mixed it with Mountain Dew ;-O

Comment from Emmie
Time: January 19, 2022, 4:14 pm

Stoaty, thanks for your visit at AoS. It means a lot.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 19, 2022, 4:52 pm

Hi, Emmie – I don’t do the rounds of the blogs like I used to, but I still go over to AoS pretty regularly. It was a shock to hear about Oregon Muse.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 19, 2022, 4:57 pm

Some Veg, my dad had a little copper stovetop still like that. He used to take a bottle of wine and make a thimbleful of brandy to amuse his guests. It is, of course, highly illegal in the US. It’s illegal most places to distill at home (except Italy and New Zealand), but it doesn’t usually involve prison sentences like America.

What a lovely little bird, Deborah. Shame it’s endangered.

Comment from Jon
Time: January 19, 2022, 5:50 pm

I love the flavorful gins!

Have you ever been to the Bombay Sapphire factory? It’s got a great paid tour, and as part of it you can pick a drink based on what botanicals smell nice for you. (Seriously, you can smell them in a sample room and then rate them on a flavor card.)
Most fun time I’ve had in a sort-of-museum where you can drink.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: January 19, 2022, 6:33 pm

“It is, of course, highly illegal in the US.”

You can probably ask permission from some government drones- but as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes observed

“Questions I already know the answers to I don’t need to ask.”

I explored these little stills at one point for making essential oils and what not because Mrs D got a soap making bee in her bonnet for a few months back years ago.

The still makers put a big disclaimer on their products telling you you’re a very naughty person if you try and use it to distill alcohol, and that it’s only to be used for distilling essential oils and such.

Comment from steve
Time: January 20, 2022, 10:05 pm

I have been pondering the purchase of a backyard Alembic still.

I want to try my hand at hooch distillation.

I figure that when TSHTF, and civilization and currencies collapse, that there will be few of life’s essentials that cannot be purchased using booze as a medium of exchange.a m

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny