Many bartenders and master distillers love gin due to is its versatility as a spirit. Believe it or not, you can make a batch of aromatic gin at home, without high-tech equipment or a chemistry degree.
Whipping up a bit of your own homemade gin can be really fun. Want to make your own gin at home?
Try our easy compound gin recipe and add a bottle to your drinks cabinet. Once you’ve learned how to make gin, you can move on to mixing your own gin cocktails!
What Is Gin Made Out Of?
Gin in its most basic form is actually pretty straightforward. It’s simply a neutral spirit as the base which is then flavored with botanicals.
Botanicals are any plant material used as a way to add flavor; they release their flavors upon infusing them into the raw spirit.
You can say it’s pretty much like special flavored vodka. When you say ‘gin’, it means that juniper berries are the most dominant among the botanicals, and it is at least 37.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).
Most industrial and commercial gin makers extract the flavors from botanicals via a distillation process.
However, it is possible to make gin simply by ‘steeping’ plants, herbs, or spices in the base spirit.
Yes, you can very much make your own gin at home using vodka. It’s easy! Just like making vodka at home.
Beyond the vodka and the juniper berries, you can feel free to experiment with whatever’s in your spice cabinet, fruit you like, plus botanicals from your herb garden.
Some of the most commonly used gin botanicals (after juniper) are coriander seeds, angelica root, citrus peel, and cinnamon. But this is just to list a few! Again, feel free to include any spices and herbs.
Maybe you can try bay leaves, rosemary, licorice powder, lavender, cardamom, cumin, fennel seeds, or lemongrass. If you’re not sure where to start, check what’s in your favorite commercial gins and use those for inspiration.
How to Make Your Own Gin at Home (No Distillation Required)!
Recipe by Craft Gin Club
Craft Gin Club is the biggest gin subscription club in the UK with a mission to reinvent the way gin lovers discover and enjoy new gins, all while supporting amazing craft producers.
The Craft Gin Club experts are known for selecting only the finest small-batch gins from around the world, so who better to ask how to make your very own batch at home than Craft Gin Club themselves.
This guide we’re about to share with you takes its main inspiration from a homemade gin recipe by Craft Gin Club, but we’ve put in tips from homemade-gin makers, such as yourself, to make sure the results of your first gin run are nothing but perfect.
- 750 mL of good quality vodka
- 2 tbsp juniper berries
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2 peppercorns
- Half a cinnamon stick
- A small piece of dried orange peel (remove the very bitter white pith)
- A small piece of dried lemon peel (no pith)
Instructions (7 Easy Steps):
Step 1: Add Your Botanicals to Your Vodka, Minus Any Fresh Peel
First things first, sterilize a clean mason jar or glass bottle with boiling water and dry afterward.
Then, add to your jar or bottle with 750ml quality vodka, 2 tbsp juniper berries (about an ounce) using a funnel.
Now, add the other listed ingredients – 1 tsp coriander seeds, 2 cardamom pods, peppercorns, your cinnamon stick
Making your own compound gin means that its flavor profile is your choice. Feel free to add in your own flavorings like flower petals, fennel seeds, cassia bark, angelica root, or liquorice powder.
TIP: For a stronger flavor it’s a good idea to bruise the cardamom pods and juniper in a pestle and mortar first.
Step 2: Leave to Infuse in a Cool Dark Place for 24 Hours
Cap your container, and give it a shake. It’s normal for the berries to bottleneck at the top. Then, let it sit for at least 24 hours in a cool, dark place.
Step 3: Taste the Infusion; Add More Flavour
After 24 hours, your base spirit should have taken on some of that lovely juniper-y essence already.
Now is the time to add your dried orange peel and dried lemon peel, along with any extra ingredients from your spice cabinet and botanicals from your herb garden whose flavor you want to boost.
TIP: An even one-ounce blend of the following ingredients gives your gin its signature flavor:
- Bay leaves
- Rose Hips
- Fennel seed
- Citrus peel
- Black pepper
Yup, just toss it all in your base spirit – pretty much like a boozy salad.
Step 4: Leave for up to another 24 hours, giving the bottle a gentle shake at least once
One more shake for your bottle! Beware of leaving it too long and over-infusing the mixture. Think of it a bit like you’re brewing tea.
Step 5: Taste the Mix Again
After 12 hours, taste your mix so far and if you’re happy with the results, filter out all the berries and botanicals using a sieve lined with a coffee filter, then store your concoction.
If there’s still some sediment left, use some muslin or a coffee filter to strain again.
Step 6: Leave the Liquid to Sit for a Couple of Days and Then Filter Out Any Sediment Left
You can filter through a water filter jug a few times if you want to make it even clearer. You may line your water filter jug with a coffee filter as well.
NOTE: Without a final distillation process, your own gin run might come out looking a bit yellowy or orange compared to actual gin distillate. This won’t do you any harm, it doesn’t affect the taste!
Step 7: Bottle and Enjoy!
Pour yourself a glass and enjoy! You’re ready to try your creation out. Use as you would any gin, like in a G&T or in a martini. Feel free to create your own label for your bottle if you want!
The flavors of gin you make at home will be more robust and even “sap-like”, smokier, and more earthy compared to your commercial gin.
Why Juniper? The Science Behind Gin’s Taste
Well, that’s just where gin comes from. The name gin itself is derived from either the French genièvre or the Dutch jenever, which both mean “juniper”.
Apart from water and ethanol, the only other raw materials used for distilled gin-making are natural flavorings. But the predominant flavor is always juniper.
Monoterpene flavour molecules that have been identified in these berries include:
- α-pinene (which gives a piney flavor)
- sabinene (woody, spicy)
- limonene (citrus), borneol (woody)
- β-myrcene (balsamic, musty, spicy)
- p-cymene (oxidised citrus)
- camphene (woody), cineole (minty)
- terpinene (woody) and
- terpinen-4-ol (nutmeg).
The predominant sesquiterpene molecules are:
- farnesene (with a floral note)
- cadinene (woody) and
- caryophyllene (spicy)
All of these combine to give your drink that piney, woody, peppery, citrusy, woody, spicy, and menthol taste.
The exact flavor molecules, and especially their proportions, vary between juniper species and upon where the juniper grew – which has an obvious knock-on effect on how the berries taste and smell.
Is It Legal to Make Gin at Home?
A Brief History
The technical name for this alcoholic drink is ‘compound gin’, or sometimes ‘bathtub gin’ – in reference to the batches that were illegally made at home during American Prohibition in the 1920s.
The American Prohibition was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America.
Although home brewing has been legal in the United States since 1979, home distillation of spirits for consumption has remained illegal since the days of prohibition, including gin distillate.
A possible reason is that home distilling carries the much-debated risks of explosion during the process and methanol poisoning from the finished product.
In the UK, it is NOT legal to distill alcohol without a license from Revenue and Customs, including alcohol for your own consumption.
You are free to make naturally fermented alcohol for your own use.
In fact, the development of special alcohol tolerant yeasts has made the production of ‘spirits and liqueur’ drinks from high alcohol washes (typically 20% abv), a practical proposition.
Worry not! You’re good to go because this tutorial teaches you how to make your own gin at home WITHOUT DISTILLATION.
Legal Definition of Gin
You might be surprised to discover that there are quite tight laws that control not only what gin is made of, but also how it is made and even what it tastes like!
Here’s what the current legal definition of ‘gin’ in the E.U. states (Globally, the definitions are also very similar):
- Gin must be a neutral spirit distilled from something natural like wheat, barley, potatoes, or grapes
- The flavours of a gin come from its botanicals (that’s the herbs, seeds, flowers, plants, or spices added during production), and, crucially, all gins must contain juniper. Otherwise, the drink can’t be defined as gin by law
- There must be at least 37.5% of pure alcohol in the total volume of liquid
- There are 3 traditional types of gin: London Dry, Plymouth, and Old Tom – see below for the differences between each of these. However, some modern, innovative gins no longer fall into any of these categories!
- Flavoured gin, gin liqueurs, and sloe gin are all different from traditional gin in a few significant ways
Compound gins, or bathtub gin if you may, are rarely labeled as such due to negative connotations with the term, but many of the budget gins are made this way.
Different Types of Traditional Gin
- Considered by many distillers to be the most sophisticated type of gin.
- Surprisingly, this type of spirit doesn’t need to be produced in London! The term just refers to a specific type of production process.
- The main difference between this type and other gins is that all gin botanicals must be added during the distillation process, and they must all be natural.
- Nothing but water and a very small amount of sweetener can be added post-distillation.
- By contrast, other gins can have synthetic or artificial flavours or sweeteners added after distillation.
- Slightly sweeter than dry gins
- The juniper’s flavor in Plymouth gin is also subtler, with greater emphasis placed on ‘root’ botanicals like liquorice powder and orris roots.
- This style must be made in Plymouth strictly – and, while there used to be many distilleries working there, now only one remains
- Much sweeter than the two types above
- Old Tom is said to be the ‘missing link’ between dry, modern styles of gin and Genever
- Popular in the 18th Century when some producers added lots of sugar or honey to disguise poor quality made gin at home back then
- The Old Tom style has seen a recent revival at the hands of bartenders, who like it for the sweeter edge this gin gives to classic cocktails
How To Make Odin’s Easy Gin
Frequently Asked Questions
What is gin made out of?
Gin is essentially a neutral spirit flavored with botanicals. The most dominant among these botanicals are juniper berries, and it is at least 37.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). Other commonly used botanicals include coriander seeds, angelica root, citrus peel, and cinnamon.
How can you make gin at home without distillation?
You can make gin at home by steeping botanicals in a base spirit, usually vodka. This process is similar to making a special flavored vodka. You can experiment with different spices, herbs, and fruits to create unique flavors.
What are some common botanicals used in gin?
Apart from juniper berries, common botanicals used in gin include coriander seeds, angelica root, citrus peel, and cinnamon. You can also experiment with bay leaves, rosemary, licorice powder, lavender, cardamom, cumin, fennel seeds, or lemongrass.
What is the science behind gin’s taste?
The taste of gin comes from the oils drawn out of the cells of juniper berries by ethanol. These oils are mainly monoterpenes and some sesquiterpenes, which give your drink a piney, woody, peppery, citrusy, spicy, and menthol taste.
Is it legal to make gin at home?
In the UK, it is not legal to distill alcohol without a license from Revenue and Customs. However, you can make naturally fermented alcohol for your own use. The tutorial provided on the website teaches you how to make gin at home without distillation.
We have a feeling you can’t wait to wash your mouth with your flavorful homemade gin. Share this article (and your gin!) to any one as curious as you are about gin making so they can try it out too.
Ready to make your own gin cocktails to impress your family and friends on your next get-together?
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