STEP ONE: THE WASH
First things first, we need to make alcohol. To achieve this, we start with a wash/mash. This is done using wheat, corn, barley, sugar, or molasses and adding water to make a sweet, sugary, fermentable liquid.
Once we have our mash or wash, we are ready for the next step, adding the yeast. Yeast is one of the most essential ingredients, and to be honest, they can be a little bit precious. If the yeast gets stressed, they start to produce off flavors. If the yeast gets cold, they end up going to sleep, and if the yeast gets too hot, they die of heat exhaustion.
When our wash/mash has fermented out to about 8%, it’s ready for the magic to happen, also known as distillation.
STEP TWO: THE STRIPPING RUN.
The stripping run is not as glamorous as the name sounds. Its job is to strip the alcohol out of our mash or wash and take it from about 8% ABV to 40% ABV. Typically, these will be hard and fast runs where the distiller won’t make any cuts. What are cuts, you ask? Read on below to find out.
STEP THREE: THE SPIRIT RUN
Arguably the most critical run, this is where the distiller gets to decide what type of alcohol the spirit becomes. Gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, aren’t they all the same?
Well, yes and no. The spirit run is typically much slower. We have even had spirit runs take 24 hours. During the spirit run, the distiller focuses on the proof/ABV. He wants the spirit to exit the still while making cuts. Think of cuts like a rattlesnake—the heads are where all the venom and nasty stuff is, no one wants to drink that, so we discard them. The tails are where the rattle is, and ewww, who wants to drink that (also, they smell like wet cardboard). What’s left, the center or the hearts, this is where the clean and pure ethanol is, full of flavor and goodness. Now, why is this critical? Well, you know those cheap bottles you find on the bottom shelf? They’re cheap because they are full of heads and tails. No thank you! Now from here, vodka is ready to be bottled, whisky and rum can be put to sleep in casks, but gin still has one final step to go.
ACE 500L gin distillation equipment
SO HOW IS GIN MADE?
There are two main methods that distilleries use to give their Gin its unique taste.
The first is steeping. This is essentially a fancy way of saying soaking them for a period. Most distillers will aim for between 24-48 hours, but some may choose to soak their botanicals for hours, minutes, or seconds. This is up to the distiller and will have an impact on the overall flavor profile.
Once steeping is completed, the spent botanicals may be removed from your resulting mix. This ethanol mix is then transferred into the still and redistilled, resulting in a juniper/botanically charged distillation which is ready to use in the final product.
The second is vapor infusion, a process of taking Juniper and other botanicals and inserting them in the vapor path. When distillation takes place, the ethanol vapors rise up and are forced to travel through the botanicals. The resulting spirit produced is infused with the botanical characteristics that we know as gin.
Hopefully, you enjoyed our quick snapshot of the distillation process. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask.