M aking Gin
Not being an avid Gin drinker I put the making of a special Gin into the too hard basket for a long time, however after being persuaded !! by my many Gin customers, I started to do some experimenting to see what we could achieve. I was fortunate in my first attempts in that a customer had brought an obscure bottle of Gin into the Country which actually listed the ingredients on the label, 3 main ingredients were listed, being Juniper Berries (no surprises there) Coriander Seeds and a Sliver of Orange Peel, along with a mysterious ingredient called "other herbs and spices", well this seemed as good a place as any to start. I soaked 4 Juniper Berries and 4 Coriander Seeds in 40% alcohol for a few days, strained them out and remembering our experience with the Whisky cut the flavouring essence down to half, the gin seemed to have a slight straw taste which I suspected may have come from the Coriander so the next batch I cut down to 3 Coriander seeds and the flavour was not quite so pronounced. We tried several flavours and put them up for tasting and the Still Spirits London Dry Gin got rave reviews scoring 8.5 out of 10 average, for a start we were crushing the Juniper Berries however we found that over time we were getting an annoying yellowish tinge to the gin and if left any longer the gin was turning brown, it didn't affect the flavour but brown gin just didn't excite the eye somehow. I searched the web to see if I could find anything else and found Cardamon listed as another ingredient, I managed to obtain some and try it but found it needed to be used in very small quantities like one very small black pip to 2 ltrs, otherwise it is just too pervasive a flavour. I haven't yet found a source of dried orange peel but one of these days I will buy an orange and take a bit of peel to see what that does, however you need to take a very tiny sliver of peel
and no pith I am told. I believe the biggest problem we have had with Gin is to get the smell right, with spirits if the smell isn't correct no matter how good the taste is people are put off, even with our gin the smell seemed to disappear in the glass, we have solved that problem by using some Juniper Oil, it needs to be used very sparingly (not difficult as it is expensive) but it seems to enhance the smell enormously, for a start when you add it, it seems to ruin the smell completely but that fades over 24 hours or so and when I last tested the gin at a tasting blind against the Seagers Gin, our Gin again scored 8.5 and the Seagers scored 4.5 so I was pretty happy about that. For those who have found that hard to follow here is the recipe again.
Soak 4 Whole Juniper Berries and 3 whole Coriander Seeds in 1.125 Ltrs of alcohol for 3 days.
Strain out and add 5 mls of Still Spirits London Dry Gin
and 1 small drop of Juniper Oil.
For those who read the last newsletter we have found with experience that the addition of 5 mls of Top Shelf Smokey Malt adds that little bit of peat flavour that our Whisky lacks and gives the Scotch a more complex and truer flavour.
Our New Domain
We now have our own domain name if you have our old site book marked please update your records. Please note also our new email address The Moonshine Still
We are very please to announce the release of the most advanced still to put on the home distilling market. The Moonshine Still represents months of testing and is based on a European model. I thought the readers of this newsletter might be interested in how our still project evolved. I was emailed in May 1997 about a still head that had come into someone's possession, he was fascinated by it and asked if I could explain how it worked as it is quite different to a conventional condenser. The ASCII drawing he sent was difficult to interpret so a faxed scale drawing was sent, the design was very different to anything I had seen before but I was sufficiently intrigued to ask permission to build a prototype, (I couldn't actually figure how it worked at that stage either). The first prototype we built was in copper for ease of construction, it was so small that we had enormous problems containing the steam pressure that built up by trying to force the vapour through such small pipes, what impressed me to carry on testing was the very high strength alcohol that we got, about 95% by volume, unfortunately most of the vapour escaped via the lid seal (or lack of seal) on the base so I ended up with about 100 mls of alcohol, not a great return from a 20 ltr wash. The next prototype we made was twice the size, still in copper, this worked better but the pressure build up was still too great. Our next attempt seemed to work perfectly so we made it up in Stainless Steel, there are inherent problems with
copper condensers reacting with the alcohol under certain circumstances which makes the use of Stainless more desirable. I was very impressed with the performance of the head, allthough the strength of the alchol dropped slightly with each scaling up it was still performing very well. I should add that we had actually figured out how it worked by this stage. Vapour containing water and alcohol rises up the central pipe, when the vapour hits the first condenser the water is condensed out but is driven to the top of the pipe by the pressure of the vapour behind it, at the top of the pipe the water being heavier it falls away via the side pipes back to the base and the alcohol vapour continues on up and through the second condenser and drips out as a liquid, very straight forward but effective. At this stage we were using my old still base with the bung of a chair leg with the end cut
off as a make shift grommet to do the testing, this made the top pretty wobbly and it didn't really look very professional. I was at a meeting of colleagues, all owners of Brew Shops and told them of my dilemma and one came up with a base that he had
seen but didn't at that time have a use for, it was what is known in this Country as a Cream Can made to NZ Dairy Board specifications to hold milk products, made of Polypropylene, it is food safe and heat resist and the perfect shape for distilling. This is a good example of how with modern communications something which is of no use to someone can assist in another Country half a world away.