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Odin on Gin

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Congrats to Listoke Distillery on their distribution success! Now available on 12 duty free stores at airports around the world ... and coming to Manhattan just after summer.

https://www.facebook.com/odiniStill/notifications/?section=activity_feed&subsection=share&ref=notif&target_story=S%3A_I692746780%3A10154258360526781&content_id=1570209363020046

Regards, Odin.

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Hello Odin!

After reading this thread over half a dozen times, we're ready to start our gin trials soon! The information you've provided definitely has me feeling more confident in our starting point. I hope you are doing well and we're looking forward to your posts regarding herb bills and barrel aging!

Regards,

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Odin, I've followed you and your business for years with great interest, mostly on the Artisan Distillers forum, but I'm greatly impressed by your depth of gin knowledge. I've done a boiler-infused potstilled gin for years, and have had very good reception of it, but I could never figure out all of what customers like about it, at least until I read this thread.

I use no truly unusual botanicals, no eye of newt here, and macerate them in 50% spirit distilled on site from mostly Washington State barley malt, which satisfies our Washington Craft Distillers license restrictions. I do the actual gin distillation in a smaller essence still, which produces a gin concentrate which we later dilute with the same spirit we macerate in. In my opinion, and the opinions of our tasters and customers, our gin seems "brighter" than most other gins, and I believe the flavor spectrum is full, from front of mouth to back. Although that's in part from the botanicals bill, what you've said tells me that some is also due to maceration/stilling ABV and range of collection temperatures, although I do not do a "heads" cut on the essence run.

I'm happy to hear you're not a louching nazi. Our gin sits right at the edge of louching, and can sometimes go from clear to hazy and back again, depending on (I'm guessing) ambient temperature. At any rate, in our literature I describe the tendency to louche as the result of an abundance of flavorings, and the addition of water will cause strong louching such as is happily associated with Pernod or absinthe. We sell our gin in clear glass, and do not "hide our light under a bushel".

Thanks so much for this great thread, and I'm glad you're keeping that same goofy avatar.

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Thanks! Yeah, the avatar sorta sticks to me, right? Looks a bit like a grumpy fellow, my avatar, in reality I am not. Or so I am told. :)

It's time we get this gin thread on its way again. And maybe one on vodka as well? Summer and incredibly busy times have come in between.

Currently we are testing new technology for the gin making. I designed the Extractor column for it. A sort of oversized (understatement) Soxhlet with benefits. We now have them with in sizes of 25, 110, and 550 liters. We have used the 25 liter version to make all kinds of recipes. The conclusion is that it helps extract the tastes of all the herbs/berries in the gin making process in an amazing way.

It also helped solve what I felt is (was) an industry wide issue in gin making: vapor infusion is lighter and less bold than boiler infusion, but boiler infusion (even though it creates a more flavorsome gin) can overcook the ingredients meaning you have to stop sooner and collect remaining alcohol separately and turn it into GNS again via a vodka still (or the iStill). More taste, more work, less work, less taste. I don't like these compromises and designing the Extractor helped solve that issue: the liquids do the extraction, so there is much more extraction (even more than in boiler infusion, more on that later), without boiling, because the herbs in the Extractor get warm but don't boil.

We have also used the Extractor to make fruit brandies and liqueurs. Peach, apricot, strawberry were totally amazing. Brambles ... not so much. And SO2 dried apricots are not good either, because of the sulfur involved in the drying process that leaches into the extract. But maybe that deserves a new thread?

Back on gin in a few day! Here's a link of a great gin. One of the best ones in the world I dare say. Amazing gin school, amazing location, amazing team ... it somehow all adds up. I already shared it in another thread here, but I think it is more applicable to the gin heads ...

Regards, Odin.

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2 hours ago, Odin said:

Currently we are testing new technology for the gin making. I designed the Extractor column for it.

Hey Odin, will the extractor be able to be purchased separately and fit onto existing iStill models to upgrade them?

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Yes, they are, Mr. Hagemann. We have three models. The smallest is 25 liter in net extracting chamber capacity. It fits on top of the iStill 100 boiler. Easy does it. You take of the "standard" column and put the Extractor in place.

Because the iStill 500, 2000, and 5000 are bigger, they also need bigger Extractors. We have the 110 and 550 liter models for them. They are stand alone and can be wheeled into place next to the (bigger) boilers, so that no column needs changing, but it's just a question of attaching two hoses. This "stand-alone" solution also means that the amazing automated and robotized column performance (20-96.5% ABV at huge output ratios per hour) can be fully benefitted from.

I'll put up some pics on Tuesday (about how we build them) and Thursday (when we are finishing up the new movable 550 liter versions and transporting one to the iStill University).

Regards, Odin.

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All right, just an update on the Extractor. We decided that we will not only deliver the new Extractor columns to iStill customers. Also craft distillers with other stills can purchase them. We'll adjust the height so that they work perfectly with your existing still.

Regards, Odin.

 

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All right, more on gin! First I want to dive into barrel aged gin. Then, in another post, more on the gin herbs bill, where I will use a modification to an existing model. The existing model was very good, safe two ingredients, where I learned the hard way ... that they need different quantities. Okay, barrel aged gin first.

Just to start ... I am sure there are benefits to it as well as downsides. Here are a few benefits:

1. Brown likker usually sells at a higher price point / margin than white spirits do;

2. It's great for marketing;

3. Via the barrel you introduce a few interesting new flavors.

As for the downsides:

1. Gin is basically a white spirit, right? Barrel aging is not part of its history and for some (London Dry Style) it is not even allowed;

2. Even though water and alcohol need to marry when a gin is diluted to bottling strength, and this takes around 5 weeks, gin is made from neutral ethanol. There is no heads smearing that needs mellowing out via oxidation (like in a fruit brandy). There is no early Tails smearing, where these complex high boiling point molecules need time in the barrel to recombine into something interesting (like in Scottish single malt whisky).

So to me, apart from the higher resale value, the marketing ... barreling gin feels a little bit like cheating. No history and no real aging takes place, but we sell it with that notion in our customers mind, right?

Now, please take no offense of it. If it is tasty, if you sell it, there is a market. Let's not go gin nazi at all, instead make your barreled aged gin a success so that you and your company and employees and their families, and your customers may benefit.

But I'd like to propose a new route. More work, but way more interesting. And not that much work if you already make whisk(e)y. Please know that gin finds its roots in the Dutch drink called "genever". Genever is originally more like a white, young whiskey, redistilled with herbs. Only after the English got a taste for it and only after some major new distillation technologies became available did it turn int a something like a neutral / vodka redistilled with herbs.

If you make a whiskey, it makes sense to age it in a barrel. There's heads smearing (especially in Bourbon/bubble cap distilled) and there is Tails smearing (especially in single malt/pot distilled styles). And often there is quite a bit of both. The barrel now not only imparts new flavors (vanillins, tanins, etc.), but via breathing and the angels share introducing oxygen, it now also offers oxidation of especially the headsy components. And over time tailsy molecules recombine and make the drink more mellow and more interesting.

Traditionally Dutch genever is made with (at least) 51% "malt wine", meaning new make whiskey. Usually corn, malted barley and wheat or rye as an adjunct (50/30/20 or there abouts).

If you have aged a whiskey, why don't you try to add some of your gin to it and give it 5 weeks of rest? If you want to make barrel aged gin, why don't you work with a lower amount of berries (half) and a slightly tuned down herbs bill, and redistill your new make whiskey with these herbs and then barrel it? You may find that the grain and herbs working together create a very interesting taste. And also, if you now barrel age, you actually have some Heads and Tails molecules there, so your gin or genever actually does get better over time, much like your whiskey does.

Something else. Not sure it belongs in this thread, but I want to ask it anyways. We gain more and more knowledge and experience on how to use our new extractor technology. Would it be worth it to start a new thread on that? To share what we learned and see if/how it can help out the craft distilling industry? Also, we have been doing loads of research on accelerated aging. More of a rum/whiskey topic. Would you guys find it interesting if I started a thread on that and share info on that as well?

Just let me know!

As for now, it's Odin out for a few days. Preparing for another 4-day workshop here at the iStill University near Amsterdam. Looking forward to that. I'll probably chime in with new posts on gin only after that, so around Tuesday or Wednesday.

Regards, Odin.

 

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An anecdotical story about gin

My family in law loves me to take drinks with me when we visit them. "More vodka, please!", "Why don't you bring more rum next time?", that kind of remarks and questions is what I get. If I take vodka and rum and gin with me, they'll ask for brandy and whiskey. If I take brandy and whiskey and gin and vodka with me, they'll ask me to bring more whiskey and vodka and brandy and rum.

Long story short ... they never ask me to bring more gin.

I love making ging and develop a few dozen recipes per year. Mostly for customers, sometimes for myself. So I made Odin's Gin and I put all my knowledge and experience in it. It worked out well, but then again, who am I to judge my own product? So I asked my wife. Women are better tasters (nosers, actually) than man. So she tastes my gin and says: "It is soapy, I don't like it". My wife, like my family in law, is not a gin drinker. It was her first gin and she hated it because of the soapiness there.

I tried it again but didn't detect soapiness at all.

Another course on gin making, where we have some 10 to 12 people being trained in gin making. We make a few recipes and one of the participants think they are all soapy. Just as my wife, who joined us at the end of the workshop. What the heck?

I learned that it is the coriander that can taste soapy. Not to all, but to some. Has to do with the make-up of coriander. Aldehydes that resemble those of soap. But it mostly has to do with genetics. Some genetic markers seem to make this happen. You have marker x or y and all of a sudden coriander (especially distilled coriander) tastes soapy to you.

I now finally understand why my family in law never asked me for more gin. A year ago we did a few tests/tastings on a family meeting and most of them have (of course) the same marker as my wife has and gin (with coriander) tastes soapy to them. I thought that was funny to share. Here's a link I found online: 

http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/02/25/why-can-coriander-taste-soapy-the-chemistry-of-coriander/

Regards, Odin.

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Never heard that about coriander before and always wondered when I get the comment that are gin to some people is soapy.  I personally find some gins soapy too, but not my own.  I suppose we all have a different threshold and tolerance for certain compounds.  I never find straight up distilled coriander to be soapy though.

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The leaves of the Coriander plant are better known here in the states as Cilantro - which is either loved or hated. If you love cilantro, you probably don't find it, or the seeds of the plant, soapy (metallic, off-putting).  Do you eat your Guac with or without cilantro? :)  You might take your gin the same way.

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Yes, and it turns out that some coriander - or cilantro - is producing soapy tastes more than other. Cilantro from modest climates less so than the ones from for instance warm Morocco. So just to be sure, it's better to use coriander or cilantro from a region with a mild climate rather than a hot climate.

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Herbs Bill for Gin Recipe Development

Kudo's to the Yahoo group of old and to Tony Ackland, who came up with this. I just tested it, changed a few things for the better,  and will publish it over here. It is for a bold style boiler infused gin. I use it time and again and if I don't, it usually puts me in trouble.

image.thumb.png.b6f6bbc72279682c12b348f435180656.png

Procedure:

X is the amount of juniper berries. You need half of that in coriander/cilantro, a 10th of the juniper amount if you want to use angelica, etc.

Orris root, etc. only 1/100th of the amount of juniper. Peel, be careful, only a total of x/100. So if you use lime and orange, devide both in half.

Liquorice is difficult to work with. Use  a powder or do it in a seperate distillation run. Bigger chunks will vary too  much in the heat they give off: too hot or not there.

Herbs per liter of 30% boiler charge.

Run prep procedure:

Fill the boiler with (example) 100 liters of 60% the evening before the run. Throw in the juniper so it can soak. Next morning dilute to 30% by adding more water. Then throw in the rest of the herbs, peels, roots, etc. Now start the run.

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any Q's, please let me know.

Regards, Odin.

 
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@Odin - Careful you are giving away the good stuff, now it will be very easy for everyone to make good gin.  It's hard to mess up with Tony's formula, the end result, like you say, is a nearly always perfectly good gin.  This applies equally for vapor infusion, I can confirm that.

There are variations on that, notably coriander at anywhere between x/2 to x/10 - depending on your like or dislike of it.

Fresh citrus peel and vegetable introductions like cucumber, these don't fit neatly into the formula above.  Though dried and bitter citrus peel will.

Florals usually in the x/100 camp, lest you end up with a perfumy gin.

Mixing maceration and vapor distillation - macerated juniper will carry a higher weight than simply it's gram weight (or you need less than the vapor distilled gram weight would imply).

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Fresh citrus peel (or fresh peel in general) has less influence per gram than dried one. Imagine that fresh peel is like 65-70% water. If that evaporates, you are left with only the goodies, no water. That's why I advice dried peel, for more consistency (how dry is the fresh?). If you want to go fresh, usually a times three will work fine.

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Distilling citrus separately is very interesting if you've never done it before.  I think it gives you much more flexibility to be creative, the flavor profiles you can get with cuts are really interesting.  The many terpenes in citrus are very different, and these can be fractionally distilled.

For fresh botanicals, vacuum distillation is vastly superior, especially if you are blending these in separately.  Cucumber and Jalepeno distilled at low temps is amazing.  Although to vacuum distill some vegetables, there is an additional important step required, critical, which I'll not say.  You'll know what you need to do when you try it.  Don't try Kale, it's an awful sulfur bomb.

 

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On 12/22/2016 at 6:01 AM, Odin said:

White gin requires aging.

Excellent post here, Odin. I just wanted to second this point and also add that all spirits require some "aging" time (yep, even Vodka) and for precisely the reasons you recount here. The process of distillation is one of separation and segregation (or fractioning) of molecules followed by a very rapid and abrupt reassembly. It does not end at the cut.

On 12/22/2016 at 6:01 AM, Odin said:

I know that waiting for five weeks can be a pain.

Which is why a rest period should be built into your production model for all spirits. 5 weeks is nothing if you've planned for it and, if you're willing to really pay attention to the spirit, the change will be dramatic. Thanks for making this point.

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Fantastic thread Odin, thanks so much for all the information. Are synthetic bottle tops also appropriate for the bottling before the 5 week rest time? I know some synthetic wine corks allow  even more diffusion of oxygen at a more steady rate than cork. Thanks.  

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Thanks Adam. I think it depends on if they allow for equal air pressure, so a little bit of diffusion of air.

Phew, just back from a great London Distilling Expo, where we had a booth and where I gave a speech on future tech developments in the craft distilling industry. If anyone is interested in the sheets/powerpoint presentation, just email me at sales@istillmail.com.

In London I also met up with Andrew Mackenzie. A Scottish customer that (among other things) makes gin with the iStill. And he had just won "Best Scottish Gin" award. Amazing product. Here's a bit more info: https://istillblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/congrats-andrew-mackenzie/

Regards, Odin.

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All right, some more good news for the gin heads.

Here's the five best Scottish gins. Proud to add that three of them are made with an iStill!

http://foodanddrink.scotsman.com/drink/five-best-new-scottish-gins-including-newly-crowned-scottish-gin-year/

Regards, Odin.

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Mary Vincent

Willow Tree Distillery

Introducing Willow Tree Gin, Handcrafted in Bedfordshire, UK

Willow Tree Gin is a premium spirit, lovingly handcrafted in small batches. We use a unique combination of 12 botanicals including freshly picked herbs from the family farm. Our process of selectively smoking botanicals gives Willow Tree Gin its distinctive flavour.

The Willow Tree Story

My name is Mary Vincent and I am the founder and Director of Willow Tree Distilling. My passion for experimentation with food and drink goes back to my parents living and working in Nigeria, my Dad as a teacher and my Mum in charge of a district hospital as a doctor. My Dad was a keen cook and especially loved creating recipes with unusual herbs and spices. I have followed in his footsteps; developing a particular passion for African and Indian flavours, which has been a guiding force in creating and developing my gin.

My distilling journey has begun with Willow Tree Gin, which is produced on our farm in Bedfordshire; our family’s home for the past 40 years. We moved from the main farmhouse to the renovated barns in 2012, retaining the land which I now use to grow the herbs used in my gin recipe.

maryvincent-1.png

Why Willow Tree Gin?

Growing up on the farm with my 7 brothers and sisters is the influence for the name Willow Tree Gin. It brings back many fond memories of spending long summer days building tree houses and camps in the willow trees, as well as running a small farm in order to be self-sufficient with our menagerie of animals.

Since deciding to launch Willow Tree Gin, I have been on a journey of exploration and experimentation using new processes, recipes and techniques to create a distinctive new gin. My inspiration for starting the business stems from my time in Detroit. As an adventurous twenty-something, I developed a love of travel and adventure and spent 5 years in the US. American’s love for risk-taking and entrepreneurship rubbed off on me and sowed the seed of starting my own business and so here I am, 3 children later, developing my own product and embarking on my own gin creating journey!

To fit in around family life, I have had a varied career, most recently working in retail, where I was for 4 years. This job exposed me to new and interesting products and added to my inspiration to innovate and bring something new to the market in the form of my gin using smoked botanicals.

As I was new to distilling, I attended courses and bought an iStill which was the best decision I made due to the excellent support package I received. I am passionate about my new-found career and have finally discovered what I want to spend my time doing!

Now, 6 months in and I cannot believe how popular Willow Tree Gin is with local people. There is a growing trend in the UK to buy local and consume local produce. As the only distillery in Bedfordshire my gin is quite a novelty!

maryvincent-2.jpg

My startup highlights

  • I’ve met lots of lovely gin drinkers!
  • My gin is now stocked in 5 local shops a mixture of farm shops and independent wine shops
  • I was nominated by Enterprise Nation to pitch to Selfridges at KPMG in London in front of an audience’

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Congrats to Strange Donkey Gin from Belgium for winning a gold medal at the IWSC! Wow, you guys now have the complete selection, right? Bronze, silver, and now gold. Congrats again and thanks for choosing iStill as your OEM and the iStill University as your education!

http://www.strangedonkeygin.com/welcome#did-you-know

Regards, Odin.

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