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My gin experiment

It’s yellow. It looks like a piss bottle. I look like a crazy lady saving her wee.

I think it must be that way for all compound gin (you remember – gins that are flavored *after* they’re distilled). I’ve been looking at the fancy gins in the store and most have a color, usually yellow.

If all the artisan gins are compound gins, it’s a flippin’ license to print money. It means they could well be buying or making the cheapest raw spirit and just adding flavors to it. And charging £30. Because once the juniper berries go in, it doesn’t matter what the raw spirit tasted like.

That’s what I do, anyhoo.

It’s nice. I like it.

I’m palming you off with this bad, out-of-focus snapshot of my piss bottle because I’m about to fall upon it and devour it. There was an issue with the intruder alarms at work and I had to go in just now to make sure everything’s okay before the storm hits.

In person. This little weasel. After hours.

I am aggrieved.

February 17, 2022 — 8:40 pm
Comments: 12

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?

January 18, 2022 — 8:20 pm
Comments: 12

God speed, little parcel

Yep, that’s my booze order. It still hasn’t gotten to me yet. Strategic gin reserves running lean.

We use this particular shipping company a lot. In the other half of the screen, there’s a map where you can track the poor bastard as he moves along his route.

I refresh it frequently and it’s weird – he will get close to me several times before moving far away again. I trust they have some kind of clever algorithm that maps out the optimum route, but it sure doesn’t look like it to a layman.

I’m stop 121 of 122 and it’s estimated the delivery will be between 7 and 9. Those guys have an absolute shit job.

December 30, 2020 — 6:04 pm
Comments: 14

Guess how we’re going to celebrate?

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Volstead Act, the law that put the teeth in the 18th Amendment. I speak, of course, of Prohibition. Interesting article about it here.

I know it was a disaster, but to be honest, I kind of admire us for trying. No way human beings would give up the joy of alcohol after who-knows-how-many millennia, but it’s neat that we did something so weird and radical and stupid with such grand American enthusiasm. Yay us.

Nobody quit drinking for long, of course. There were several loopholes.

Sacramental wine. Demand went up by 800,000 gallons a year.

Prescription whisky for them as could afford regular Doctor visits.

You were allowed to drink any alcohol you already owned when the law went into effect, so one wealthy judge reportedly bought a lifetime supply up front.

Poor people began to drink patent medicines and hair dyes and industrial alcohols and all kinds of dangerous and potentially fatal things.

And that’s before we get to smuggling, bootlegging and bathtub gin.

Oh, we drank. And we shall drink again. Good weekend, everyone!

January 17, 2020 — 9:39 pm
Comments: 9


We came home Saturday afternoon to the strangest smell. I thought it smelled like a solvent. I was kind of right. It was beer.

A mini-keg of beer blew out at the bottom seam and leaked five liters of brewski into the library carpet, every drop of it by the time we got home. (Naturally, we keep the booze in the library. Don’t you?).

It was cool, it was dark. It was in date. Nothing was stacked on top of it. It was from a large commercial brewer. It was, appropriately enough, Old Speckled Hen. Honestly, I’m stymied.

Uncle B sent a huffy “what gives?” to the brewery (he’s very good at those) but we haven’t had a reply yet.

I bought it for my birthday. I had this vision that I would get up on my birthday morning, sit in my favorite chair and be pleasantly sozzled all day long. But I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in the fridge, and I’m not really a daytime drinker anyway. It sounded good in my head, but it never happened.

And now it never shall. Happy Monday!

August 19, 2019 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 7

The best part of any major housekeeping operation…

Is finding all the superfluous, stray, half-empty and out-of-date booze, and ‘cleaning it up’.

I’m all about sacrificing for my fambly.

August 9, 2018 — 9:47 pm
Comments: 25

Godzilla is a friend to whisky


Did you know the Far East is a huge growth market for whisky? Friend of mine’s son is a liquor retailer in Singapore. Or Hong Kong. I forget which.

Anyhoo, I don’t want to talk about that, I want to talk about this ice cube. These ice cubes. The article calls them 3D printed, but that’s a little misleading. They’re carved using a CNC router.

Though I suppose the practical difference between a computer-controlled additive process and a computer-controlled subtractive process is neither here nor there.

These were created for an ad campaign, so I don’t suppose they’re really available to buy, though the technology is not totally impractical. There are a lot of CNC machines out there.

And the article mentions coupling CNC with Autodesk’s 123D Catch. I’ve mentioned this program in passing. It’s a free phone app that makes 3D models from your snapshots. It actually does a scary good job.

You have to take as many pictures as you can from as many angles as you can. They recommend a minimum of twenty. I think I did twelve or thirteen of a simple object and it worked fine. The stitching together process takes a long time — for my simple object, about an hour. But the end result is good enough to boggle someone who has invested a lot to learn how to squeeze out 3D models.

That would be me. I’m talking about me.

April 7, 2016 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 12

Don’t get too excited


“What were you doing when the War broke out, Stoaty?”
“I was reading about some pretentious publicity stunt of an advertisement of a movie, child. Now shut up and eat your Alpo.”

This just came across the transom. It’s a film financed by Remy Martin. When their current batch of cognac is ready for sale, this movie will be released. That’s in a century, that is.

They dropped a few francs on it, too — it was written by and stars John Malkovich (who wasn’t told when he signed on that it wouldn’t be released in any current person’s lifetime).

There’s a little teeny part of me that thinks this is cool. I think it’s an indigestible fragment of leftover art school. I’m hoping the more grounded parts of my brain gang up on it and beat it to death.

First comment wins: “meh, it’ll be on Pirate Bay sooner.”

November 24, 2015 — 10:15 pm
Comments: 6

Day 4 – say a prayer for my liver

If you haven’t seen in before, enjoy Girl Drink Drunk. Don’t cut yourself on those pixels!

May 7, 2015 — 12:00 pm
Comments: 14

Happy hump day

Hump day? Quasimodo? Ah, suit yourself.

I dug up this picture because I spent my work day moving heavy things from one storage area to another, and I feel at least quasimodo myself. Searching for this image, I discovered there might have been a real life hunchback who inspired Victor Hugo to write the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Huh.

My mother grew up rural, far from the nearest library, and tHoND was the first book she ever fell in love with. She found it on her parents’ bookshelf (I still have the very book), sat down on the living room floor to read it and stayed up all night until she finished.

While she was reading, she looked up to see a mouse skitter across the floor in front of her. It was brown with white blotches.

Pointless story, but it was going to die with me, so I thought I’d read it into the public record.

April 15, 2015 — 9:17 pm
Comments: 15