How to make fine gin and examples from around the world
  • Home  › 
  • Spirits  › 
  • How to make fine gin and examples from around the world

How to make fine gin and examples from around the world

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 14, 2019
Share Share to Instagram

Unravelling the secrets of one of the world’s most popular spirits.

While gin must contain a minimum of 51% juniper berries to be called gin, each gin producer has its own unique style to ensure their gin stands out from the others. Here, we look at four different distillation processes, with examples of six quality gins from Australia, the UK, Europe, Asia and the USA.

Pot still distillation

This is the most traditional method for making gin, in which botanicals are steeped with a spirit inside a pot still. Once the steeping process is complete, the steeped spirit is heated and distilled, producing a big, bold gin. Modern pot stills are often heated via a steam jacket to bring the liquid to boiling temperature.

Citadelle French gin is named after the first royal distillery built in Dunkirk in the 1700s. Its unique quality comes from being heated and distilled in the pot over a naked flame rather than steam. The flame causes a type of caramelisation of the botanicals, resulting in a traditional style of gin with a richer flavour and viscous mouthfeel. Surprisingly, of the 19 botanicals used, juniper makes up 90% of Citadelle!

Tanqueray No. Ten from Scotland is made with two separate distillations, both in pot stills. The first step uses whole citrus fruits (rather than citrus peel). Grapefruit, limes and oranges are distilled in a tiny pot still (number 10) with a neutral wheat spirit. This results in a citrus distillate that is then re-distilled with juniper, chamomile, coriander, angelica and liquorice to create the gin. This juniper-forward gin has plenty of citrus kick and a chamomile finish.

Blending distillation

This technique is very common nowadays, as it gives the producer precise control over the botanical flavours of the gin. The idea of this method is to produce individual botanical distillates in a pot still or by vacuum distillation, then blending the distillates together.

Melbourne Gin Company in Australia creates its original gin by blending distillates. Eleven separate botanicals are distilled individually, then blended at a specific ratio to create an extremely smooth dry gin. Its most recent gin release, however, the aptly named Single Shot, is made using the traditional method, in which all ingredients are combined in the still, heated and distilled in one go.

Vacuum distillation

Japanese distillery Roku makes its gin using a variety of techniques. First, the base gin is made via pot distillation, using juniper and exotic botanicals such as sancho pepper and sencha and gyokuro teas. Second, a separate distillate is created using the Japanese citrus fruit, yuzu. Third, a rotary vacuum evaporator (rotovap), is used to vacuum-distil sakura (cherry blossom) petals and stalks.

A rotovap essentially sucks out the vapours from the rotating liquid while it is being heated under precise temperature control. This vacuum method is ideal for such a delicate botanical as it allows the cherry blossom to be distilled at a low heat, ensuring the flavours are not burnt, keeping all aroma and taste. Finally, the base gin and yuzu and sakura distillates are blended, resulting in a phenomenal gin.

Vapour distillation

With this method, the botanicals are placed in a basket above the still and steamed. As the vapours pass through the botanicals, they infuse the spirit, creating a lighter, brighter style. Scotland’s Hendrick’s Gin incorporates two methods of distillation — pot still and vapour — to create two separate distillates.

These are then blended at a specific ratio, with the addition of an individual rose petal essence, and, of course, Hendrick’s famous cucumber essence. These are both made differently, using a cold distillation/vacuum process. The ratio of the blending provides us with a well-balanced and exquisite new Western-style gin.

St. George Gin from California also uses both pot distillation and vapour infusion for its range of three gins, Terroire, Botanivoire and Rye Gin. Each is produced in the same way. First, selected botanicals are placed in the pot still and left to steep overnight.

The following day, the remainder of the botanicals are placed in a vapour basket. The pot is then heated and during the distillation, the liquid from the pot is infused with the botanicals in the basket. This method delivers a truly unique American gin that is perfect for a gin and tonic or even served on the rocks.

As you can see, the difference in production around the world is not only due to the ingredients used, but the creativity of each distillery’s master distiller. Gin is a spirit that continues to evolve, so watch out for more interesting bottles in future!