I Made Gin!!

Yes, it is Gin.  No, it really wasn’t that great.  In fact it was pretty poor, barely drinkable.

But it was a lot of fun and I learned a quite a bit.   The most important thing I learned is that some botanicals are really powerful!   For example a little anise goes a long way.  A lot of anise is way too much.

No, I’m not distilling my own spirits.  In fact I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most states!  I’m creating gin by ‘infusion’.  The basic concept is pretty simple: Take a neutral spirit, typically vodka, and combine with the botanicals of your choice and let steep for 2-5 days.  Pretty simple really.

The only rule is that Gin must have Juniper, that’s what makes a spirit “Gin”.  If you’re wondering what other sorts of botanicals to use, google “Homemade Gin” and you’ll find quite a few recipes for guidance.   That’s how I started.   Also take a look at my “Botanical Elements of Gin” page to see what some commercial Gins use.

Here’s the process I used for this small, initial batch:

Day 0:  I assembled the following botanicals.
10 gms Juniper, 1/3 of which I ground
4 gms Coriander, ground
1 Cardomon Pod, ground
1 Star Anise, ground
2 gms, Allspice, ground
2 green peppercorn, ground
2 red peppercorn, ground
All of these items I put into 375 ml of 100 proof Vodka.

+24 hours:  I added the following.
Orange Peel dried, 6 inches thin
Lemon Peel dried, 6 inches thin

+72 hours:  First tasting!
First I sieved out the bits and pieces of the botanicals.  As expected the liquid was a nice caramel color. Then the first quick taste.  WOW, lots of Anise!!  Really a lot.   Reminiscent of Jagermeister, Ouzo, or Raki, but with out their subtlety and refinement.  There were also all the other flavors, but definitely in the background, except for a bit of bitterness that came through.  And overall it was a bit light on Juniper.

Day 5: Final tasting.
Still Lots of Anise!  Definitely too much.   Next time I’ll cut the Star Anise by 75%, at least!!  I might just skip it all together and focus on the more subtle flavors.

I should have added a photo of  this, but sometimes a picture isn’t really worth 1000 words.

For my next batch, and there will be another, I think I’ll use the following changes:
Cut, or eliminate, the Star Anise.
Use dried citrus zest instead of the dried thin citrus peels.
Just a couple more peppercorns to give it more pepper kick.
And more Juniper, probably bump it up by 50%.
Keep watching, I’ll let you know that turns out!

For my first effort I give my self one upside down Martini glass.   


If you’re curious about what one vs. two vs. upside down stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****



The Perfect Gin Explained

I often get asked “What is the best gin?”

Apparently some people seem to think I should know.  I’m still researching that myself and until I try all the Gins I don’t think I can really give a valid assessment.   But it’s a valid question and deserves a little thought.   So I started with a bit of research on the internet (aka Google search) to see what other people were thinking.  Here are the “10 Best Gins” as determined by three different websites:

1 Williams Chase
2 Martin Millers
3 Monkey 47
4 Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Blackfriars Gin
5 Bloom
6 Beefeater 24
7 Hendrick’s
8 Hayman’s 1850 Reserve Gin
9 Tanqueray No. 10
10 Caorunn Gin

1 Tanqueray 10
2 Langley’s No. 8 Gin
3 Filliers Pine Tree Blossom Gin
4 Daffy’s Premium Gin
5 Brooklyn Gin
6 Gin No. 209
7 Blackwoods Gin
8 Jinzu Gin
9 Eden Mill Love
10 Gin Mare

Anchor Old Tom Gin
Aviation Gin
Barr Hill
Caorunn Gin
Monkey 47 Gin
Sipsmith VJOP
Botanist Islay Dry Gin
Uncle Val’s Restorative Gin
Watershed Four Peel Gin
…..(Gayot did not rank these, just listed them as top 10.)

Notice the consistency there?  Neither did I.  In these 3 different “Top 10 Gins” there are 27 different Gins.   But I didn’t stop there!  At the end of this post are two more “Top 10 Gins” lists for further amusement.   A total of 44 different gins in 5 top 10 lists.  There is NO single gin listed on more than two lists.

There are many familiar Gins on these lists and I have tried many, and clearly not all (yet), of them.   I really like Monkey 47 and that would be on my Top 10 list and it’s on two of the lists above.   Tanqueray No. 10 is also on two of these lists but that is not one I would put on my list.  Then there is Barr Hill which I personally think is terrible (the only flavor other than juniper is honey…. just too sweet for me).

It’s worth mentioning that these lists do not specify whether these are the best gins for Martinis, Gin & Tonics, Gimlets, Negronis, or neat!  That is important.  Personally I would not ever order Hendrick’s in a Martini but I would in a G&T.   Clearly different Gin flavor profiles will work differently in a G&T vs a Singapore Sling.

What can we conclude by this?  What is the “Perfect Gin”?  My best answer is, like the Perfect Martini, the Perfect Gin is that one which most appeals to you.  You’re really going to have to try them.   Perhaps many of them.

Let’s go back to the original question that I get: “What is the best gin?”  My first reply is:  “For a Martini?  Gin and Tonic?”   Then I follow up asking whether thy like their Gin on the citrus, floral, or herbal side?   If their eyes do not glaze over at this point then we can move on and really start a discussion of flavors, profiles, and cocktail options.

A couple of final comments.   I think it is noteworthy that these 5 top 10 lists are so different.  There has been an explosion of gins in the last few years!  New distilleries entering the market and old distilleries now adding Gins to their lines.  There are now barrel aged gins, small batch gins, and reserve gins.  It’s not surprising that different people(s) would rate the gins so differently.

Finally, the few gins that did appear twice in the lists are:  Caorunn, Gin Mare, Hendrick’s, Martin Millers, Monkey 47, and Tanqueray No. 10.  If you’re looking to start exploring Gins, I would suggest you start with these.


1 Hendrick’s
2 Anchor Distilling Company “Genevieve” Genever Style
3 G’Vine Nouaison Gin
4 Bombay Sapphire Gin
5 Leopold Bros. Small Batch American Gin
6 Blue Ribbon London Dry Gin
7 Plymouth Gin
8 Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin
9 Tanqueray Gin
10 Gordon’s London Dry Gin

1 No. 209 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Reserve Gin
2 Elephant Gin
3 Dictador Premium Columbian Aged Treasure Gin
4 Citadelle Gin
5 Cruxland Gin
6 Glendalough Gin
7 Rutte Celery Gin
8 Gin Mare
9 Blue Bottle Dry Gin
10 Hernӧ Blackcurrant Gin