Experiments with Gin
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.
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:
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.
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!