Looking back at my past Gin making efforts I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot. But I can also say that I’ve got a long way to go before I’ll be competing against Bombay, Tanqueray, and Hendrick’s. Of course the big boys are (mostly) making their gin using a distillation process and I’m using the compound method. So there’s no reason to expect one process to be the equal of the other.
But one can try. And since it’s illegal for me to distill anything in my state I’ll stick to the, allegedly, inferior compounding.
When I first started out (I Made Gin!!) I simply used a recipe I found on line. It was fun and educational but produced a rather harsh Gin. I wanted to understand why. My second round of Gin (Homemade Gin, Round #2) was slightly better, though hardly good. By the third round I’d make progress by doing less (Homemade Gin, Round #3). And round four (Homemade Gin; Round 4) was even better, to the point that it made an acceptable Martini. Though probably better in a G&T.
In celebration I took a break to ponder my next move. I’m still pondering, but also decided to do a little experiment. Probably one of the biggest problems I’ve had is that there are just so many variables to manage! So many botanicals to choose from. Citrus or Herbal? Floral? Cardamon, Cloves, Cilantro, Celery? How much of each? Ground up or whole or chopped? When to add to the Vodka? At the start? after 24 hours? How long to let it all steep? 48 hours?
One of the many variables to manage is the starting Vodka. I’ve been using New Amsterdam 100 proof Vodka or Absolut’s 100 proof. There are a few others but those two seem to be the most available at the local liquor box store. Which of course means I’m starting with different flavors, even if they are very subtly different. Ideally of course I’d start with 190 proof food grade ethanol. But I’m not there …. yet. (5 gallons costs about $250, so it’s not out of the question by any means.)
Comparing the taste of these two it’s pretty clear that Absolut is the winner. It’s cleaner with a very neutral taste and very smooth. New Amsterdam is just not quite as clean with a mostly neutral taste but a very slight cocoa flavor!!?? So the choice has been made, I’m going with New Amsterdam from now on. Why? Because its roughly $25 for 1.75l and Absolut is approx $30 for 1l. And it’s more readily available.
My next experiment is another case of back tracking and doing less with even less. This time the goal is to establish a fundamental taste profile: Juniper. So back to the kitchen laboratory for a small batch of Gin.
Here’s the ingredients and weights and times for this batch:
Juniper, 10gm (about 5 teaspoons) in 350 ml of New Amsterdam 100pf Vodka.
And nothing else. Yup, simple pure Juniper with nothing to hide or hinder or enhance it’s taste.
Then 24 hours of infusing, straining, and finally tasting. The results? Well the first thing, thankfully, is that there is plenty of juniper flavor in the Gin. On the nose, forward, and the finish. The second thing, also thankfully, is that the juniper isn’t overpowering. Yes, it’s a little like chewing on pine needles, but not at all like chewing on the whole branch. Third, there wasn’t any other new flavors.
Most importantly from my point of view was comparing the Juniper only Gin with the source Vodka. Yes I could still taste the underlying New Amsterdam subtle faint cocoa, but just barely and only because I knew it was there and could ‘look’ for it. I will have to account for that in the future. At least I know where it’s coming from.
Now on to Homemade Gin, Round 5! I’ll keep you posted.
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