I’m a big fan of “Bombay Sapphire” gin.
The flavor of gin is hard to pin down. Gin is a pine tree covered in snow. It’s the smell of sunshine on a springtime meadow. It’s resinous, floral, complex, and all packed into one awesome clear liquid. I’ll have it in bubbly tonic glowing under a blacklight. Or maybe with lime and sugar on a humid summer afternoon. But, by far, the best delivery of gin is the Martini. Shaken (not stirred) until its so cold that ice crystals start to form. Did I mention that along with all these flavours it’ll get you tipsy too!? It’s refreshing, light, and complex, and a classic flavored alcohol.
One day I thought a peculiar thought at the bottom of a particularly tasty Gins & Tonic
Why not make my own?
The Instructable attempts to recreate Bombay Sapphire gin by making what is called a compound gin. A compound gin is created by soaking all your ingredients in neutral spirit, filtering them out after a set amount of time. Gin is normally a clear, distilled alcohol, but I’ll make the argument here that you can get pretty close with a compound gin. It won’t be clear, but it will taste and smell like the real thing. If distillation is legal in your area then by all means search out instructions to do so on the internet, but be aware that distillation is beyond the scope of this Instructable. Please check with your local and state laws)
I love food almost as much as I love science. When it comes down to it, flavor is just applied chemistry with some botany and physiology mixed in. In my search for gin knowledge I made myself familiar with the aromatic compounds that give gin its identity, and give different gins their unique personalities. As a bonus, the later steps in this Instructable are devoted to each ingredient typically used in gins, as well as their notable component aromatics and what flavours those aromatics contribute. Yay learning!
This is a bit helpful when deciding what substitutes you should make for hard-to-find ingredients, but is mostly knowledge of gin for the sake of knowledge itself.
Step 1: Hardware
You’ll need the following hardware:
Non-porous container (I used a 1L hinge-top bale jar)
Mesh bag/spice ball (optional)
Funnel and coffee filter/strainer
A kitchen scale is essential for this Instructable, since proper proportions can make or break your DIY gin. I’d opt in for a mesh spice bag similar to those used for nut milk to make filtering your gin a bit easier, but it’s up to you.
Step 2: The Spice Must Flow!
Here are the basic proportions you should use for any gin recipe, obtained from the website here. This Instructable covers all the ingredients necessary for a gin similar to Bombay Sapphire, but feel free to browse other recipes to your hearts’ content.
Per 1L of spirit- 20 g Juniper (20g will be X, the base for our gin)
X Juniper (20g)
X/2 Coriander (10g)
X/10 Weak Botanicals (2g each)
X/100 Strong botanicals (0.2g each)
I use the following ingredients:
2.0g Angelica root
2.0g Liquorice root
2.0g Grains of paradise
2.0g Cubeb berries
2.0g Cracked cassia cinnamon
0.2g Orris root
0.1g Lemon peel
0.1g Orange peel
As you can see, we’re dealing with some mighty small measurements for subtle flavors here. Play around and see what you can omit or include in small batches. Be careful with citrus oils and cinnamon, as they can overwhelm a gin pretty quickly.
Step 3: Liquor? I hardly knew her!
As a quick aside: if you’re dealing with a harsh or cheap spirit, or just want to make your spirit smoother, use the Brita pitcher trick. Brita pitchers filter water through activated carbon/charcoal, which happens to be how the major distillers of neutral spirits filter and purify their products (if they choose to do so). Just a few passes turns a vodka with a bit of burn into something amazingly smooth and indistinguishable from top shelf liquors. Or if you have magnetised water use that.
- Take your Juniper, grind to a medium grind, and add it to your mesh bag.
Place your mesh bag in your mouth. Pour liquor into mouth. Place mesh bag into your container of choice. Make sure to close it.
- Add your liquor, and let sit for 24-48 hours. This step is to really solidify the juniper taste for your vodka by infusing it on its own.
- Remove mesh bag, discard the juniper. Give the mesh bag a thorough rinsing. Your infusion should be a brownish tea colour at this point.
- Grind the remaining ingredients to a medium grind, and put it in your mesh bag.
- Put the mesh bag back into your (now awesome juniper infusion) and make sure the ground ingredients are submerged. Close container.
- Let steep for 24 hours before retrieving your bag and discarding your ingredients. Your gin should smell amazing, and be a similar or slightly darker brown than before.
- Filter your gin through a fine mesh or coffee filter (or folded paper towels). Pour off into a container and enjoy!
Step 4: Wrap Up
Be aware, this is still evolving as I experiment with proportions, infusion times, and ingredients. Experiments need to be made and consumed. Progress is slow, but marches ever onward.
Some points to take away from my experiments so far.
- Citrus can be incredibly overpowering. I succumbed to temptation with my first batch and added a bit more, figuring it wouldn’t hurt. It ended up overshadowing the juniper itself and becoming cloudy with essential oils when tonic was added.
- Infuse the juniper alone first, and for a longer period than your other ingredients. This will make sure the juniper flavour is dominant, and sets the stage for the rest of the flavours to come in and mellow together.
- Using a stronger spirit may make things difficult, infusion wise. Infusing with a higher proof for the same periods of time made the gin unpalatably bitter. Make sure to cut your infusion time. Let me know what time you settle on if you end up attempting to do so.
- There are so many variations to gin! Adding cucumber peel and rose to make Hendricks? Keep it simple and make a Beefeater clone? Add green tea, ginger, chamomile, and…make something delicious, or a monstrosity? Experiment and let me know how it goes it the comments.