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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