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v a st c i t s a t n a f d an s

l a c i n a t o b f o wo rl d

the art of extracting and preserving the exquisite flavors of gin Written by Molly Troupe, MSc. and Gary Spedding, Ph.D.




in is the combination of three simple ingredients: ethanol, water, and botanicals. Ethanol is produced by fermenting cooked mash to produce a high-ethanol beer and distilling this beer repeatedly to concentrate the alcohol to approximately 96% ABV. Grains that are typically used for gin production include corn, wheat, rye, or malted barley, but less traditional sugar sources can also be used. Water affects gin quality at every step in the process, and in particular, the finished product. The flavor quality of water is dependent on the region as well as the method of purification, or lack thereof. The last ingredient of gin is botanicals, and the flavor source discussed in this article in terms of the flavor compounds found in botanicals and extractions via different distillation methods. Gin’s primary flavor is juniper. It is the only botanical that must be used in order to call a spirit gin but is not often the only botanical used. Gin is a highly creative


canvas for distillers due to the abundance of botanical choices that can be added for their flavorful essential oils (see Part 2). Botanical selection is dependent on the desired flavor profile and the taste of the end-product is not the sum of its components (1) which makes distillation of gin a challenge. Not only can flavor be impacted by the type of botanical used, but also how said botanical is processed. Processing includes ground versus whole, fresh versus dried, maceration versus basket, as well as the distillation method. Distillation methods can vary widely and depends on the rate of distillation, still shape, cuts determination, and applied heat. All these are added variables that affect gin flavor. Applied heat, in particular, can dramatically affect gin flavor profiles. Traditional distillation involves the application of heat to a still. Heat is applied to a still that is filled with alcoholic solution and the heat causes this liquid to change

state to vapor. This vapor travels up the still until it encounters a condenser filled with cool water which forces this vapor back to the aqueous state. The boiling point of ethanol dictates the heat needed to affect this change of state but the boiling point itself is not fixed. It can be altered with the right circumstances.

Vacuum Distillation Vacuum distillation, which lets the distiller use low heat to accomplish distillation runs, can help preserve delicate flavors. Vacuum distillation works by applying a vacuum to a distillation system which, in turn, lowers the vapor pressure. The vapor pressure of a pure substance is the pressure exerted by the substance against the external pressure. This external pressure is usually atmospheric but is not when a vacuum pump is applied to a distillation apparatus. Normal temperatures for distillation range from 70 to 80ÂşC. With a lowered WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2018  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2018  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.