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Birectifier for gin development


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The birectifier, which I've resurrected, was the renowned laboratory analysis still of Rafael Arroyo. He died young and the design was lost for the last 60 years so it was never applied to gin production. My pet project within my other birectifier work is successfully applying it to gin development. I also have the lost Seagram botanical assay protocols for precisely standardizing a botanical charge which are quite pragmatic and I think are from the 1930's. I am hoping to fuse the two ideas.

The birectifier is typically operated with a charge scaled to 100 ml of absolute alcohol and 8 fractions of 25 ml are collected every 15 minutes. So this is slow incredibly high reflux micro distillation. When collected carefully and faithfully, comparisons can be made, fraction to fraction, across multiple distillations. What is special is how very different all the fractions are from each other. This was well understood with typical spirits from fermented products, but what would happen with gin?

Gin surprisingly ended up with well differentiated fractions that we can learn a lot from. A role model gin was carefully analyzed here (there is lots of other great stuff in the post beyond my quote here).



For organoleptic tasting, the modified German protocol was used taking only 5 ml of each fraction to allow for future work. The dilution was 3x for the first four fractions and 2x for the last four fractions.

Fraction 1. No notes of fermenation character which indicates a very clean neutral spirit base. Angular notes, but nothing especially gin-like. Only a slice of a complete juniper experience. Ever so slightly cloudy in its undiluted form.

Fraction 2. Similar to fraction 1. Angular notes and no distinct notes of roundness.

Fraction 3. Growing citrusy character. More significant differentiation between fractions 1 and 2.

Fraction 4. Ever growing citrusy character, possibly from the coriander.

Fraction 5. Unique botanical character. A lot of stuff lives here like the personality fraction of spirits from distinct fermented products. Far more intensity than the other fractions. Palatable unlike some rum oil fraction 5’s. This fraction is very low alcohol, but something else contributes to a unique viscosity and mouthfeel, likely the essential oils. I would not be surprised to find a unique surface tension measurement.

Fraction 6. Subtle staleness. I suspect everything is baseline laissez-faire here, but this contains a character I’ve noticed in some past prime botanicals. No sensation of acidity.

Fraction 7. Similar to fraction 6.

Fraction 8. Similar to fraction 6 and 7.

The last three fractions seem to contain no sensory information about the juniper.


A lot of this complements and adds weight to Odin's teachings, but can be used to refine things and create in depth first hand experience. The process can be used to follow along with role models and organoleptically evaluate the quality and consistency of botanicals before graduating to the Seagram protocols. It is easy to create an actionable path to making a new production fit the shape and outline of role model.

Incredibly, all the auxiliary botanicals seem to get pushed into fraction 5 which tell us a lot. For starters, we can test funky botancial choices for their potential with the birectifier by where their aroma ends up. If it is in fraction 5, it is on the money. The birectifier is like a scalpel meets magnifying glass so we are cutting away noise and magnifying things. This helps investigate complexity achieved by a botanical formulation. The tool may help elaborate and refine choices so that each batch progressively improves.

Eventually, the distilling decisions will be paint by numbers and we'll be able to shift our involvement to the quality of the botanicals themselves and our create linkage concepts. I'm going to keep diving into this and hopefully I can produce some really useful protocols for people.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I added a few relevant case studies:

The first was birectifier examination of a historic gin. The gin was Hiram Walker 5 0'Clock gin from the early 1940's. This was made under the tenure of Herman Willkie and Paul Kolachov.

The second was a look at 1970's Cointreau. A fascinating part of this case study was seeing the auxiliary botanicals show up in fraction 5 very much like gin. You get an idea of how much weight they should have. The orange aroma gets spread out across fractions better than I thought making it practical to assess organoleptically. There was no detectable louching in the first fractoin which shows they took terpene removal seriously. Sugars did not interfere with the process at all if the 8th fraction went uncollected.

Next up more gins and green chartreuse?

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In a new post, I describe how you can integrate Birectifier Analysis Of A Single Gin Botanical into gin development.

This homework takes time, but the results are very insightful. With this framework you can know the volatility and character of every ingredient, inside and out, before you run a pricey batch through your big rig. Much of this work can be performed before you even approach investors to start a distillery. It is good to get your homework out of the way before you're burning rent on a warehouse.

Coming soon, I'm going to make available a modern version of the Clevenger apparatus for steam isolation of essential oils. For a simple principle, its been harder to put together than I thought. I'm going into the third variation after changing glass diameters and adding features to make the results more useful in a gin context.

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