Introduction: Gin From Scratch (Vapour Infused)

Create Bombay Sapphire style Gin with this Instructable.

I don’t drink gin myself but when I built my still a lot of friends asked me if I could make Gin so I did some research and found out how to do it and even the exact ingredients used in Bombay Sapphire as this was the Gin they wanted.

Now there are 2 ways that Gin makers make their Gin, Steeping and Vapour Infusion, this instructable uses the same method that Bombay Sapphire use which is Infusion.

Botanical's : what does this mean? Well it’s the plant matter and spices that are used to flavour the Gin.

What is a Steeped Gin, to make a steeped Gin, which is the most common way to make Gin, the Gin makers put their botanicals in the still boiler along with the spirit and then leave it for 24 hours. After that they boil it with the botanical's still in it to get the spirit from it.

Vapour infused Gin is different what they do is they have a special basket which they put the botanical's and then they pass the spirit vapour over it and the vapour picks up the flavours on the way.

Step 1: What You Need

For this instructable you will need a Pot Still, here is my instructable on how to build one.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Building-a-Keg-Still-Pot-still-design/

the other bits you will need are

for the Spirit
------------------

5 KG White Sugar

1 X Tube of tomato puree

1 X Lemon

50 g of baker’s yeast, You could use a couple of packets of baker’s yeast but it will take longer to ferment but the result will be the same.

Clean water


The Botanicals
----------------------

some of these might be tricky to get hold of, and some of them are very expensive.

20g Juniper Berries

10g Coriander Seeds

2g cubeb berries (this is an African pepper corn)

2g Grains of Paradise

2g Cassia Bark ( you could use a cinnamon stick but i would use much less of it if you do)

2g Powdered Liquorice root

2g Angelica root

2g Bitter Almond, now in the UK and US  this is a listed poison due to the cyanide content, if you can get them you can use bitter peach kernels if not then you will have to do what I did and use a splash of Almond Extract but make sure it was made with bitter almonds. I also threw in some regular almonds for good measure.

Lemon peel (get an unwaxed lemon if you can)

0.2g - 0.3g of orris root powder

if you want to make Bombay Sapphire east then add the following as well

0.2g black pepper corns

0.2g lemon grass


other equipment
-----------------------

a tub for the botanical's to go in

a pestle and mortar to mash the stuff up, you don't want to turn it in to powder so don't use an electric grinder, you could use a bag and a wine bottle if you are stuck.

a Hydrometer that is for spirits

a Wine Hydrometer

a testing / ample tube

a 25L Fermentation vessel with an air lock

a long spoon

scales

some glass jars

a glass demi john or a couple of 2 litre bottles to store the distillate in afterwards

Step 2: Fermenting the Initial Spirit

first off we need to make up a sugar wash, to do this pour a couple of kettle loads of boiling water in to your sterilized fermenter.

stir in all the sugar one bag at a time until all the sugar is dissolved.

now top it up to around the 23L line with cold water.

using a wine hydrometer it should have an SG (specific gravity) or around 1.100

Add in the juice of 1 lemon and the whole tube of tomato puree, stir this all in so there is not any lumps.

when it has cooled down to about 23 degrees C sprinkle 50G of baker’s yeast on the top and stir in, you can you the little packets of baker’s yeast I would put at least 2 in but it may take longer to ferment.

Pop the lid on the fermenter making sure you have an airlock on it.

you need to try and keep it at about 23 degrees C so the yeast can live, the temp might be different if you are using a wine yeast so check the packet on its temps. if you have trouble keeping it warm enough you can pop a 50w aquarium heater in to maintain the temp.

It should ferment out in about 7 days or more, you will know when its done when the bubbles stop coming from the airlock, at this point if you have an aquarium heater in it turn it off, and move it somewhere cool, ideally it should cool to between 10 and 15 degrees C. by cooling it the yeast should settle to the bottom which makes it easier to siphon it out.

you should now have a wash with about 14% alcohol in it.

NOTE: you may have a eggy smell from your ferment with some yeasts, don't panic it has not gone off, some yeasts just let of sulphur gases

Step 3: First Distillation - Stripping Run

We now need to put it through the still for the first time, this is called the striping run, what this does it to strip out all of the junk from the original ferment and reduces it down to a stronger alcohol.

Using a wine or beer siphon you need to put the wash in to the boiler of your still, making sure you don't suck up the sediment at the bottom of the fermenter.

if you have used a decent yeast you may want to keep the sediment for the next time you make a batch you can do this by putting it in a sterilized container and popping it in the fridge.

turn the boiler on full power and wait for it to warm up until little drips start to come out of the output pipe, at this point turn on the water to the cooler and turn down your heater to about half the power. You will start to see a slow stream coming out of the output pipe within about 15 minutes so keep an eye on it.

now this bit is very important, you need to collect about 100ml that first comes out of the still, this will contain all the bad stuff like methanol and acetone which we do not want as its very bad for you, throw this away or bottle it and use it as a cleaning product around your workshop.  Whatever you do, do not drink this stuff it’s dangerous.

Now just collect everything that comes out and put it in to a demi john or some 2 litre bottles, keep going until the distillate starts to come out cloudy, at this point you don't want to keep this stuff for your gin but you can bottle it up and put it in the still with the next time you do a first distillation and claim some of the alcohols back. if your using a spirit hydrometer you should see around 60% ABV coming out of the still doesn't matter if it’s a little less than that, and you should get between 2.5 and 3 litres of this percent.

you will also notice if you are testing it as you go along that the ABV slowly drops as you go and then it starts to drop fairly quickly before its starts to become cloudy. when it gets to about 20% abv there's not much point in collecting any more as your just getting too much water so just turn off the boiler and wait a few minutes then turn off the water.

wait for the boiler to cool down a bit and discard the contents down the drain.

Step 4: The Botanicals

this bit is easy enough, you just need to measure out the botanicals and crush them in the pestle and mortar to release the flavours and pop them in the pot you have put aside to hold them all in, you could just use a bowl and put cling film on it when you’re done.

add 20g of juniper berries, because of their size it’s easier to crush them in batches, you just need to break them open you don’t need to turn them in to a puree or anything.

add 10g of coriander seeds and crush them, this provides most of the citrus flavour so if you find this too strong in your gin just reduce this.

add 2g cubeb berries, sometimes they call these cubeb pepper corns, crush these and add them to the mix. These will add much more floral aroma, including notes of lavendar and rose.

add 2g of grains of paradise again crush them and add them to the mix, adds flavours from a strong peppery bite to light lavender notes

add 2 g of Cassia Bark, or if using cinnamon use about 1g of a stick, crush it and add to the mix, you may notice that my jar says cinnamon sticks, it’s not its cassia bark I can see that it is but a lot of places call them cinnamon sticks because it releases a cinnamon flavour.

add 2g of Liquorice root powder directly in to the mix

add 2g of angelica root and grind this up in the pestle and mortar, this is hard work so just do it for as long as you can be bothered lol.

add 0.2g - 0.3g of orris powder, I used some jewellers scales for this but you can see the amount in the cup I used, it is a small amount but it’s important as it binds the flavours together and has adds floral flavours.

now your suppose to add 0.2g of lemon rind but I can never be bothered to weigh it out so I have been using unwaxed lemons and just using about half of the surface of it, you can see the amount in the pictures.

now this is the bit where I had to get creative, you need Bitter Almonds, in the US and the UK these are listed substance and very hard to get hold of, you could use Bitter Peach Kernels but again some country’s including the UK have these as a listed substance as well. why are both of these listed substances? because they contain cyanide, in our process the cyanide would be destroyed by the heat in the still. but I couldn’t get either of those so I just added some Almond extract which came from bitter almonds and for good measure I threw in some regular almonds as well.

Just mix this lot together then pop the lid on and get on with preparing your still.

Step 5: Second Distillation

With the second fermation you can’t just put the previously distilled spirit directly in the boiler and fire it up, this is dangerous, so what we need to do is make sure there is enough water in the still before we add the vodka/spirit. Fill it up so it’s over the element then wait a little more so there is a little bit of depth above the element.

now pour in your spirit and the tails (the end part of a run) from any previous runs of gin or vodka, don’t use the tails from anything else as it could taint the flavour.

this is the point where I had to improvise, most distillers make a basket for their botanicals which just slides up in to the column and I was no different, I made a basket up using copper mesh and a piece of pipe. However when it came to putting the basket in it wouldn’t fit because of a slight indent at the bottom where the easy flange was formed. as a quick idea I cut a piece of copper mesh that would fit in the column and  push the middle in to create a dent so it would sit in the middle of the column.

I spooned the botanicals in, gave the side of the column a couple of taps to get the loose bits to fall, then popped in a couple of stainless steel scrubbers in behind it. I had cleaned the scrubbers before this by pouring boiling water over them to remove any oils.

using a dowel I pushed down the scrubbers until they stopped sliding, you don’t need to pack them down hard as you want the vapours to get through the botanicals.

Pop the column on with a decent gasket and clamped it down using the tri clamp, making sure it was nice and tight, I use a screw driver to make it tight, put the cooler on and make sure its full of water, it doesn’t have to be running at this point.

turn the boiler on full power, it will take about an hour to an hour and a half to heat up and the vapour works its way through the column.

as soon as you see small drips coming off the output column cut the power to the heater by half and turn on the water for the cooler.

you can collect the distillate from the start here, no need to discard the first part as all the bad stuff has been removed on the first distillation. It should be coming off at around 55% or a little more, collect it using the jars at 100ml at a time keep checking the alcohol volume and you will see it slowly getting less and less. Keep checking the colour of the distillate as well, it should always be clear. When the volume starts to drop faster keep an eye on what comes out as soon as you have any signs of it being cloudy stop adding it to the main batch. Keep collecting it though and bottle it separately, you can use this in the next run.

Step 6: Bottling

Bottling it up, to make it the strength of a proper gin it should be about 40% or 42% if your are making a Bombay Sapphire East style.

so you need to water it down, to do this you need to use clean water, not tap water, you can use bottled water or distil water using your still.

you can use this calculator work out what amounts you need to add to make up the target amount.

http://homedistiller.org/calcs/dilute

something I have noticed is that even though both the water and the gin are clear when you add them together for some reason it goes cloudy, not sure why it does this but it does not affect the taste.

Don’t forget to label your bottles so you know how much alcohol is in it.

Te feed back that I have had from people who have tried it, is that its not far off Bombay Sapphire, and often they have asked me for more ;-)

Comments

author
StephenF92 (author)2017-08-07

Hi. Did you update the quantities of botanicals in the instructable? Or should I still cut them in half? Awesome instructable btw!

author
n1cod3mus (author)StephenF922017-08-07

I didn't update them no, you could try cutting them in half and then go from there. you may need to reduce them further.

author
MarkD391 made it! (author)2017-08-01

So we started off following your intructible. We built some stills made some gin modified the still and made more gin anyway after fiddling around for six months we finally got it right.The methodology and recipe. so now we have a commercial

distillery and are having lots of fun.So just thought we let you know it all started with you

distillery

gin .JPG
author
n1cod3mus (author)MarkD3912017-08-01

send me some pics of your distillery I would love to see it chris@chrisfrydesign.com

author
n1cod3mus (author)MarkD3912017-08-01

wow that is an amazing story and a fantastic journey you have taken, I just made this for a bit of fun and you have taken it to the next level. I'm very proud of you guys for persevering and experimenting with it , my formula was far from perfect, way too strong in flavour and needed to be cut way back but I didn't have the time with work getting in the way to perfect my recipe.

I love the bottles and labels you have there they look fantastic, i will have to a hold of one of each of those to have as a reminder of what I do sometimes inspires people to do great things. where can I buy them? I'm in the UK so it might be tricky.

author
MarkD391 made it! (author)2017-08-01

Our gins are awesome, Thanks a lot dude for your instuctible !!!

IMG_0436.JPGIMG_0439.JPGIMG_0423.JPG
author
n1cod3mus (author)MarkD3912017-08-01

thank you so much for coming back here and posting your story, truly inspirational.

author
DavidK470 (author)2016-11-02

Hi, about to do my first go! just waiting for my wash to finish !

my question is, instead of adding water at the end, could you add several litres of pure water to the 3 or so litres of spirit before you put it in for the second distill?

would this mean it would then come out at more like 40% and then not need to be watered down?

author
n1cod3mus (author)DavidK4702016-11-03

i only put water in to make sure my element is covered in my still this does not effect the % that comes out, how you run your still effects the % that comes out of it and you want it to come out slightly stronger than drinking strength.

author
cfrowland (author)2016-10-09

Thanks for getting back to me so promptly! I'll let you know how I get on.

Lastly, for the moment, I spotted that you have suggested halving the botanicals. Would this still be the case?

author
n1cod3mus (author)cfrowland2016-10-09

Yes, I don't drink gin but the reports I got back were that the flavour was way too strong

author
cfrowland (author)2016-10-08

Hi. I've been distilling alcohol through a Reflux Tower for some years and am getting a really good result [at least, I think so!]. I recently acquired a Pot Still to attach to the boiler and have been puzzling over how to make gin from the botanicals, as opposed to simply adding the commercially available essences. Your instructable has inspired me!

Currently, from a 20 litre sugar/yeast wash, I'm getting around 4.5 litres at 93%ABV which I then water down to around 45%ABV before filtering the resulting 9-10 litres through activated carbon.

Would you suggest that I then add water [or perhaps the tails from the original wash] to bring this back to 20 litres and run the lot through the Pot Still [and the botanicals], discarding the first 150mls as usual?

The Reflux Tower runs at a steady 72C and when the temperature rises by 2 degrees, I stop collecting. I'm assuming that the Pot Still will operate in much the same way and I'll be looking for the 2 degree rise in temperature as the switch off point.

CLIVE

author
n1cod3mus (author)cfrowland2016-10-09

I would add the tails and any heads and take off a bit from the start but I would judge it by taste as most of the methanol will have come off on the first run.

I only water mine down to cover the element

author
wollepuster (author)2016-09-16

Hey, I haven't tried it yet but I am about to do it. Your instructables are awesome. I am very glad you post them. The still I built two years ago is mainly inspired by your design with some personalisation.
My sugar wash is simular to yours but I use 20 gram of turbo yeast for 25 liter which I grow for 2-3 days in a bottle before making the mash and adding it. This way I can get around 18-20% of alcohol without the taste of all these yeast nutrients.
My question: why do you add the tomato paste? Is it for the taste? I assume the lemon is for PH value?

author
n1cod3mus (author)wollepuster2016-09-17

The tomato paste is just in replacement of yeast nutrient. If your making this gin the halve the botanicals I got feedback that the flavour was way too strong

author
wollepuster (author)wollepuster2016-09-16

just found the answer in your rum instructable. For anybody else: it's his special yeast nutrient.

author
jimmy487594b (author)2016-09-11

Hi, I found bitter Almonds on eBay. Do they need to be crushed up or can they be put in whole? Hopefully by this time next week I should be well on my way to my first batch of home made Gin. I will post back my success or failure

author
n1cod3mus (author)jimmy487594b2016-09-12

they will need to be cut up so they can release their flavor.

i would expect that if they are on ebay they are probably listed as bitter almonds but are not, unless they are coming from another country other than the UK.

author
thepher (author)2016-09-05

Just started exploring distilling and have a good concept of how to do it. One thing I haven't been able to find is the timeframe from distillation to consumption. Do you let it sit for a month, etc or is it ready to drink right away?

author
n1cod3mus (author)thepher2016-09-05

it depends on what you are making, if you are making Gin, Vodka or white Rum then no you don't have to wait for it to sit. if you are making a Whisky, Whiskey or Golden Rum then you would need to put it on oak which can take years if its done right, but there are ways to speed it up by having more surface area on the oak then it can be done in months but the long you leave it the better.

author
evon frankenberg (author)2016-03-02

Ok I am reading your last part here and I have an answer for you on the clear water and clear gin but when you mix them they get cloudy. This is because you still have some oils in the Gin. Its most dominant when you add star anise to your botanicals. The effect is similar to what happens when you drink Greek Uzo and you mix the Uzo with water. Best thing to avoid it is to ensure the Gin is completely cooled down. Gin and water must have same cool temperature at best to prevent the cloud.

author

yep you are totally right too many oils, I am using too much botanicals for the wash I am doing, I found if I cut them down this doesnt happen

author
AaronG85 (author)n1cod3mus2016-06-28

I was wondering, since the alcohol level is reduced each time you run it through the still, would you be able to reduce it enough through one or two more runs and thus not need to add the water?

author
n1cod3mus (author)AaronG852016-06-28

the alcohol increases with each run not decreases e.g you pick up a little water each run so you need to add some to bring it down to a level where you can drink it

author
Refinnejk (author)2016-05-22

I am thinking about having a go at making gin but have never done any home brewing before so I would like to find out a bit more about the basics before I attempt to follow these instructions, which seem to be excellent and detailed but I feel I need some more basic information first. I have a degree in chemistry so that should help with some of the terms. Any suggestions for a book or website where I can start would be greatly appreciated. Thank you ?

author
n1cod3mus (author)Refinnejk2016-05-22

www.homedistiller.org

author
Refinnejk (author)n1cod3mus2016-05-22

Thank you

author
KurtB20 (author)2016-04-24

Thnx for sharing this information ;-)
One question .... for how much liter is the recipe?

grtz,

Kurt

author
n1cod3mus (author)KurtB202016-04-24

I orginally used a 23L wash for the vodka, but I found later that the taste was too strong so I halved the botanicals

author
KurtB20 (author)n1cod3mus2016-04-25

i try out it this evening :D

i make my wash with this yeast .

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author
Geoff338Day (author)2016-03-21

Hi Thanks for taking the time to reply.Ok ,Will do.
Cheers
Geoff

author
Geoff338Day (author)2016-03-21

Hi all, sorry I have worded my question poorly. I have done the same as you and run 23L of wash on the first run. My question relates to the second run however. I am sure we all got a different amount of alcohol of the first run 3 to 5L? Then you have added some tails (how much?) plus water to cover the element. This is the liquid quantity to botanicals I am after. First run of alcohol plus tail plus water to botanicals. This seems very important as by reading some of your comments it is quiet easy to over do the botanicals.

hav

author
n1cod3mus (author)Geoff338Day2016-03-21

ok well if you are running the same batch size as me just halve them.

also you don't need them on the first run, just the second run, I don't recall how much tails I used, I just dumped what I had in the boiler, was probably about 2L of very low alcohol vodka.

author
Geoff338Day (author)2016-03-14

Hi all, I am new to this and have been following The Instructable list carefully (thank you, its very well written and easy to follow). I have hit an obstacle though, when it comes to infusing the botanicals at the ratio laid down i.e. 20g juniper, 10g coriander, 2g cubeb etc. it doe not give an amount of fluid, it just says put the previously distilled spirit plus water and any tails in you may have. I would think the ratio of fluid to the weight of instuctables would be critical. Too much and to strong, too little and no flavour. Can you please help me with some guidance here. This quantity of instuctables to X litres of....

Cheers

Geoff.

coriander, 2g cubeb quantity of

author
n1cod3mus (author)Geoff338Day2016-03-15

hi, i was using about 23L of wash, however I would half the botanicals I found them to be strong, I havent got around to updating the instructable yet

author
evon frankenberg (author)2016-03-02

Thanks for the instructions. I have been making Gin for years but always too afraid of making my own alcohol so i have been using a forms of steep method but I buy a bottle of Absolut Vodka (100proof) and add the botanicals to that for about 2 weeks before distilling it on my stove in a lobster pot which has a small bowl inside thats raised from the bottom and the pot is closed off with an aluminum bowl packt with ice water. The resulting infused alcohol is then watered down with Fiji water. Anyhow, my question is about the first 100ML. How do you know its the 100ml? is this based on the size of your wash? so would it be 50ml if i make a wash half your size or is this 100ml standard to some extend?

author

its an estimate which is over estimated, often you can smell the methanol and taste it so you will know what to throw out. best to throw out too much than not enough if you are unsure.

author
HaroenD (author)2016-01-16

If you press down your botanicals too hard in the infuser, and the alcohol vapor can't reach the Liebich cooler, wouldn't the pressure build up? Is it a good idea to install a simple pressure valve in the cag of my homemade still for safety?

author
n1cod3mus (author)HaroenD2016-01-16

potentially yes, which is why you put them in loosely and use the scrubbers to hold them in. you would have to pack them in fairly hard to cause full blockage

author
Billamong121 (author)2015-12-12

Hi looks awesome but I was going to use the steeping method. Are all weights/measurements for 25 litres? Thanks

author
n1cod3mus (author)Billamong1212015-12-12

yes, but I found the flavour too strong so halve the quantitys

author
Billamong121 (author)n1cod3mus2015-12-12

That's great thanks I tried one my self before I seen this thread. And same I put far to much cloves in overpowering to say the least. Thanks for response much appreciated

author
smarasea (author)2015-11-17

Sounds like a nice recipe. One question though, why do you put all the botanicals in a little bag? why not just mix them in with the spirit/water solution and distill the lot?

Also just as an FYI be reason the solution goes cloudy when you mix alcohol with water is because alcohol isnt really soluble in water. Its a largely non polar molecule however being that its an alcohol the OH functional group at the end of its chain is polar so its because of this that its able to mix with water however somewhat reluctantly. Initially you kind of get an emulsion with little beads of alcohol mixing with the water making it appear white.

author
n1cod3mus (author)smarasea2015-11-18

the reason is because this is a Vapour infused Gin, if you want to mix it all in the boiler then you would have to leave it to steep for 24 hours and you would lose flavour.

the reason it goes cloudy is because there are too many oils as I was using too many botanicals, if I did it again I would halve my botanicals.

author
smarasea (author)n1cod3mus2015-11-18

ah ok, so basically they came out of solution when you diluted the alcohol?

Do you lose flavour via steeping because the volatiles oxidize or do they just remain in the liquid of the still? I would have thought steeping it would enhance the flavour? so basically you put all the ground botanicals in a wide containter like a tea bag and sit it somewhere above the liquid so it will become infused by the steam.

Thanks for your help.

author
n1cod3mus (author)smarasea2015-11-18

steeping will reduce flavour, i dont know the science of why. its the method used by cheaper gins such as Gordons and Beefeater

the bag or net would be in the column as described in the instructable

author
ValH3 (author)n1cod3mus2015-12-08

So do the botanicals not block the vapor from rising trough the head? Seems like a pretty condens pack of herbs to go through?

author
n1cod3mus (author)ValH32015-12-08

no they don't, you don't pack them in tight, just put them in loose then put the packing in behind them to hold them there.

the steam finds it way around them and through them

author
ValH3 (author)n1cod3mus2015-12-10

awesome thanks.

author
acoupland (author)2015-11-20

Hi,

Where did you get your fermenter? I'm struggling to find a decent one...

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