Gin infusion trials underway

Infusion jarsI’m often slightly disappointed when I try a new gin. In my opinion, there is a tendency for people to play safe with flavours and aromas leaving much-hyped new and exciting botanicals barely discernible as distillers (led presumably by the marketing departments) keep to a well-trodden path that won’t shock or offend anyone in a G&T.

One gin that definitely delivers something different is Ferdinand’s Saar dry gin made with many, many botanicals, hops and Riesling wine. The aroma on opening the bottle had hints of aftershave (in a good way!) and the juniper is way back in the mix with floral notes and spicy ginger coming through with the Riesling.

For many years, I’ve been infusing beers with hop flowers and, from time to time, with spices – especially coriander seeds. The aroma and flavour impact of doing this at the end of the process has been one of the most exciting aspects of brewing for me and so I want to bring the same methods into the distilling process.

To create really different gins, I am going to distil a base product and then add separate infusions of botanicals, hops, herbs and spices to get the aromas and flavours that I’m looking for. We now have jars of Juniper, Coriander Seeds, Gentian Root, Black Peppercorns, Rosemary, Marjoram, Green Cardamom, Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Lemon Verbena and Angelica Seeds macerating away in 43% ABV ethanol.

In two weeks time, we will be able to start blending in the infusions to the base gin to see what impact they each have on the aroma and flavour (and possibly the mouthfeel as well). I’m particularly interested in the lemon verbena and the angelica seeds as they can be grown locally and I love the pithy citrus character that they both impart but the green cardamom has been an eye opener – really fresh and zingy aromas in the alcohol and the linalool scents are coming through strongly.

The other interesting thing about this trial is that it should allow us to develop some sort of botanical intensity rating to speed up recipe development in the future. Since we now have ‘standard’ solutions of various botanicals, we can use them to work out the dosing rate at which each one starts to impact on the flavour and/or aroma of the base gin…..obviously, this will entail many hours of dedicated tasting!