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Experiments with Gin

June 30, 2010

Gin is officially a grain alcohol infused with juniper (required) and other herbs and spices (optional).  Learning this blew my mind!  I needed to try things out.  Not Martha experimented with two recipes here and here, and I used some of her comments to advise my own process.  I think a big reason to make your own gin is that everyone has personal preferences and this allows you to make  exactly what you want.  This is why I applied SCIENCE to the process!  I made 6 small batches to try out different recipes and variations.

To begin, a trip to the spice store.  I stopped by Penzey’s Spices in Grand Central, and was directed instead to Kalustyans, which, i have to say, is a mecca for all things spice-related.  I will be back for sure, and I highly recommend anyone in the New York area (or if you are visiting) to check it out!  There I picked up typical gin spices- juniper, coriander, cardamom, bay leaves, orris root, and angelica.  Allspice is also common, but I already had some at home and so I didn’t buy any.

Lots to play with...

Lots to play with...

Husband Josh and I busted out the food scale and some mason jars to make 6 microbatches of about 300 mL each.  Scaling down the recipes proved to be a bit difficult to maintain exactness (how to you get 20% of a cardamom pod?) but I think it should be close enough.  Here are the recipes I used, scaled down for 300 mL each:

Lots going on...ice coffee is not going into the gin, but was an important part of the gin making process (it was really hot out...)

Batch 1: Based on Jeffery Morgenthaler’s gin recipe.

1 tbsp.  dried juniper berries
1 heaping tsp. whole coriander, crushed
2″ length of lemon peel
1/2 cardamom pod, crushed

This will sit for 1 week before straining through a funnel and then a coffee filter.

Batch 2: Same as Batch 1, but a 3″ strip of lemon peel,  2 3″ strips of grapefruit, and a 1.5″ long sprig of rosemary.

Batch 3: Based on Not Martha’s round 2 gin experiment.

1 Tbsp juniper berries
1/2 tsp coriander seed
Pinch ground allspice

1 black cardamom pod
1 black peppercorn
1/2  bay leaf
1.5″  sprig fresh rosemary
1″  fresh lemon peel
1″ sprig fresh lavender

I put everything in at once, and strained after 24 hours.

Batch 4: Same as Batch 3, but with no rosemary or lemon, and lavender increased to a 3″ sprig,  and 1/2 cup of chopped English cucumber.

Batch 5: Same as Batch 3, but with 1/4 tsp. each of orris root and angelica.

Batch 6: Same as Batch 3, but with no rosemary or lavender, lemon peel increased to 2″, 2″ of grapefruit peel and 1/2 cup chopped English cucumber.

All of the batches waiting to be tasted...

We will be holding a blind gin tasting party (hopefully with some commercial brands mixed in for comparison to see what comes out as the favorite!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. brothersbrown permalink
    July 1, 2010 2:36 pm

    Can’t wait for the tasting. We’ll bring some Hendrick’s for comparison

    • July 1, 2010 2:40 pm

      You bet! I hope to have a big group and lots of note taking to determine the winning recipe (or further experiments)…

      • September 19, 2010 4:25 am

        and it happened! I’m getting non-smokey cardamom for future gin-making purposes for you…
        save those tally sheets, btw – priceless artifacts!

    • Tom permalink
      July 1, 2010 4:21 pm

      With these kinds of spices, this seems like the kind of tasting that might lead to a Guilded Age rave party.

  2. alyssa permalink
    September 7, 2010 9:35 pm

    how did the tasting go? i’m holding off on making my own until you declare a Very Best Method!

    • September 8, 2010 9:35 am

      I might be doing it this weekend- I needed to block off a fair amount of time to handle trying 6 different gins. I will post asap once I do (and will likely have more experiment ideas once we try them all).

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