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donkeygin

Craft gin - 5 questions, please don't beat me up

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donkeygin    0

Hey guys,

Still in the research phase to see if I want to jump into the craft gin business. I'm a long-time expat living in Asia, if you can believe it there's not one single gin manufacturer in this country - that's just wrong.. ;) I'd like to fix that.

I spent a few weeks learning more about about the history of gin, another week researching distilling NGA just so I'd have the background. Fascinating stuff, from technical point of view to the artisanal quality of the final product!

It's a bit overwhelming, like going back to school where there are 50 professors and each talks a little bit about the subject or related subjects and you have to put it all together on your own, and you can't ask questions.

I have a local source for NGA, so that simplifies things. As far as I understand I primarily need a pot still with a basket for the botanicals. If I could get a handle on what kind of equipment I need for steam infused Gin it would go a LONG way in me not ripping my hair out.

http://www.hillbillystills.com/product/3-pot-still-and-26-gallon-boiler-hs5500-combo-with-thermoport/

I saw this, but it doesn't seem exactly right. I'm sure there are better manufacturers. There are tons of tinsmiths, metal guys around me, but this is really technical equipment, I'd rather just buy a still to begin with and fabricate if I grow.

I read this excellent PDF: http://www.phillippdunn.com/liqour/MakingGinVodka.pdf

But the author promotes using a water heater as a still.. Not exactly what I was thinking.

If some empathetic soul could jump in and answer ANY of questions I would be grateful. I have a million, but have edited it down to 5.

1. Can you point me to a decent quality setup / still needed for taking NGA and turning it into a final product with botanicals?

2. Are online classes like distilleryuniversity.com worth the dosh? Or are they geared more towards making whisky and home stills.

3. I run a marketing / design business, I understand it takes awhile to market any brand / product - what sized operation / output should I shoot for? To start with I'll be selling locally, then (hopefully) regionally, along with international direct fulfillment. I'd rather scale up then grow up (due to initial costs).

4. I have some regional botanicals that I want to use in my recipe. I understand this business takes a long time to get up and running. How do most craft business start out testing their mixes? Buy a small home still kit and start testing?

5. I have a large amount of farmland here, and plenty of workers to farm it. However some of my botanicals just won't grow (11b) like Juniper (doh!) Is it even worth it to try to grow my own herbs organically - or do most craft shops just purchase in bulk and store them?

Thanks so much!

 

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mheisz    1

I will take a shot.

1.  I would suggest looking through the vendors on this forum or the general ADI sponsors etc for still options.  I am sure you will get many people here who can push their own products.  I will gladly recommend you check out Artisan Still Designs as they are more than capable of this type of setup.

2. My personal opinion is not really if you are able to understand the technical aspects by reading the vast amount of info out there for free.

3. This I can't answer except to say that your throughput with a Gin from NGS is going to be very high and you don't need a huge still to make a lot of product.

4. I started by testing on a 5L still and scaling up the recipe from there. 

5. I think most buy and store (I do).  Making your own would be a good marketing story but be careful that you aren't sacrificing quality.  The botanicals are the essence of your gin.

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donkeygin    0
3 minutes ago, mheisz said:

2. My personal opinion is not really if you are able to understand the technical aspects by reading the vast amount of info out there for free

Cool, you just saved me some money ;)

3 minutes ago, mheisz said:

4. I started by testing on a 5L still and scaling up the recipe from there.

Do you have any links to what you started with and are currently using?

Thanks for the response!

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donkeygin    0
7 minutes ago, mheisz said:

I started on this:

https://milehidistilling.com/product/1-3-gallon-5-liter-alembic-copper-still/

And ended on a 300 gallon Artisan Still Designs Complete system,

thanks for the link.

nice looking taster still.

did you:

- macerate the botanicals in some kind of muslin bag

- find a way to suspend them in this pot to steam infuse

- do one botanical at a time and mix them later?

won't even ask what the Artisan cost you.

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We are using the 6-plate HBS still plus the gin basket:

http://www.hillbillystills.com/product/6-plate-vodka-turn-key-distillery/

http://www.hillbillystills.com/product/gin-basket-add-on-new-and-improved/

If I start with 15 proof gallons of our base alcohol I can make about 6 cases (~72 +/-) of gin, and I cut way before tasting any tails.  You might want to start with about half of that or less at the beginning and develop your particular blend.

The gin basket is very simple to use.  I just manually crush up about a total of 160 grams of botanicals and wrap them in a cheese cloth.  Pop that in the gin basket and run it real slow.  Place the gin basket right above the column but below the dephlegmator.

We purchase our juniper but then add locally sourced botanicals.  I would recommend make your non-juniper botanicals be your signature and source them as close to home as possible to make that part of your story.

Best of luck!

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Odin    43

If you are interested in gin, you may enjoy this thread:

As for gin making and using gns, a simple potstill is just awesome.

Regards, Odin.

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bluestar    41

I agree that the quickest cheapest way to start for gin made with nga (ngs) is to use a copper alembic. For that matter, you can use a glass laboratory still, since you don't really need the copper to scrub. Start with just macerated pot-still gin, later look into using a gin basket, if you like. You can do some amazing stuff playing around with unusual local botanicals and juniper. Juniperus communis grows all around the northern hemisphere down to 30°N latitude in North America, Europe and Asia, so depending how far south you are, you can grow it. But it is slow growing, takes years. Don't know anything about legality of "home" distillation in your country, but if you can do that, you can do fine for gin by starting out with a 5-20 liter copper alembic or a 2-10 liter glass lab still. Macerated gin from ngs in one of those can actually scale up not so badly, with slight adjustments in proportions of botanicals.

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indyspirits    31

For us, the two biggest challenges have been:

  • Scaling up recipes
  • Botanical consistency

We started our recipe development on a small 2L glass lab still which was just too small. Even weighing botanicals to the picogram (OK not really) by the time we scaled up (100 liters) the organoleptic properties bore only a passing resemblance to that which we started.  We found vapor infused to be infinitely more difficult to scale up that macerated.

I don't know what to do about the consistency issues.  Resellers don't know or at least won't tell which producers provided their bots.  At one point we started buying in larger quantities but then the bontanicals (most noticeable in the juniper) started to dry out before we used them all.  

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