A guide to using botanicals
Not all Botanicals are readily available. Consequently, you'll need to use you imagination here.
The total number of botanicals used is about 20-35 grams/litre. If we take the dominant botanical juniper as 'x', the proportions of the botanicals used is:
If we use x = 20g then x half = 10g, x is one 10 = 2g x is one hundredth 100 = 0.2g (200mg)
Some current gins do not have a pronounced juniper character as they are used for cocktails and are more of a flavoured vodka - for this type of gin for 'x' we use equal quantities for juniper & coriander (i.e. x = 20g composed of 10g of juniper & 10g of coriander)
The botanicals are macerated in 40%abv neutral alcohol (usually for 24 hours), redistilled and then diluted to 45% - 40% abv which is an optimal strength for holding the flavour of the botanicals. Plymouth Gin also comes in a 57% abv 'Navy Strength'.
Bombay Sapphire Gin uses a Carterhead Still which contains a botanicals basket through which the vapour passes, a technique that gives a lighter flavour.
All gins include juniper and coriander as an ingredient along with other botanicals. Typically, a fine gin contains 6-10 botanicals, although the Dutch Damask Gin has 17, and the French Citadelle Gin has 19 - but this could be more for marketing reasons and has been criticized for lacking direction.
Some American gins mention chamomile as a botanical which would give a blue tinge to the gin.
To start, make basic Gin, you can add the following into the boiler of your still.
For Approx. 10 litres (we always recommend experimenting with a smaller amount and when you are happy you can scale up)- The neutral alcohol needs to be diluted back to 40 to 50% ABV (alcohol by volume)- 200 to 250 gm Juniper berries
- 100g coriander
- 27g angelica, cassia, liquorice, grains of paradise, cubeb, 50g orange and lemon peel, ginger, orris root, cardamom, nutmeg 5g.
Distill one more times as it will extract the flavours from the botanicals.
Once distilled, dilute it back to 40% and let it rest for about 2-3 weeks. The resting period allows the different flavours to "marry" and will improve the flavour balance.
Also, some prefer to put the herbs into the bags and maceration in the alcohol, by leaving it up to a week before distillation, but that is a personal choice.
We can take the botanicals and place them in a basket above the wash inside the still. This needs to be positioned underneath the column so that when the still gets up to temperature and the alcohol vapours start to come off finding their way up into the still column or head they will have gone through the botanicals that are suspended. They will pick up the flavours and the distillate will taste of them. We can then dilute down to strength of the Gin we want.
Moreover, Still Spirits have introduced a mess basket that does this on the air still. It’s quite a clever little piece of equipment. With the T500 its necessary to create your own although I am sure there will be something launched to do this shortly.
Place botanicals in the wash so that they pick up the flavours during fermentation. Actually, you will need it to be a strong flavour or you will find that when you come to distil you will lose quite many these flavours.
You can use any combination of Method 1 Method 2 Method 3 and Method 5. There are no rules only what you wish to do.
Significantly, every distillery has its secret mix of botanicals. Most Gins contain next to Juniper berry and citrus botanicals such as lemon and bitter orange peel, anise, angelica root and seed, orris root, liquorice root, cinnamon, cubeb, savoury, lime peel, grapefruit peel, dragon eye, saffron, baobab, frankincense, coriander, nutmeg and cassia bark. Please feel free to try method one but we must say Method 5 below is a much more popular and easy way to do it.
Weigh out your botanicals as per suggestions below (or make up your own)
Pour the botanicals (minus any particularly punchy ones) into a clean sterile bottle (sterilise with our steriliser)
Top with your home-made vodka at 40 to 45%
Leave for 24hrs to infuse. Give it a couple of stirs during this time.
Have a taste, it should be starting to taste all juniper and gin - hurrah!
Add any remaining botanicals to the mix, or if there’s a flavour you want more of, add a bit more of that botanical!
Now, leave too steep for a further 12-24hrs (you might be happy with what you have so this might not be necessary) agitating the mixture at least once
Taste, and once you are happy (longer does not mean better, beware of over infusing) use a sieve to filter out the botanicals
If there is still sediment you can use a kitchen roll, coffee filter, muslin or cheese cloth to filter again
Next, leave to sit for a couple of days. Re-filter out any sediment that settles.
Run through a filter if you want to, with further filtration etc. as necessary.
Finally, bottle your gin and design a great label for it.
Certainly, the problem we now have is the Gin will have picked up the colours of the Botanicals. Therefore, this is sometimes known as Bath House Gin.
Meanwhile, if we are wanting to solve this problem, we must do like all the commercial Gin producers would do and that is re-distilling the Gin. All we need do is take this gin and add it to our still (you can add some water to it if you feel it’s too little to add to the still).
Consequently, when we redistill the Gin will come out lovely and clear and at a much stronger strength. This will then be diluted back down to 40 to 45%ABV (depending on the strength we want). Remember we are going to lose some of the flavour in the re-distillation so when it goes back into the still it must be quite a strong taste.
Bottle our gin and design a great label for it.
Note: if you've left it a little too long and the gin is too strongly flavoured, you can always dilute with more vodka, unless you’ve left it for weeks and it’s stewed like tea!
Other botanical ideas that can be added
- almond - sweet
- angelica seed - musky and hoppy
- cardamom - spicy
- cassia bark - bitter and cinnamon
- cinnamon - sweet and woody (use sparingly)
- ginger root - dry and hot spice (careful it’s powerful!)
- grapefruit - clean citrus
- nutmeg - warming sweet spice
- cubeb berries - spicy peppery pine
- rose petals - floral
You can also add things like lavender, chamomile, rose, rosemary, sage, whatever you like, it’s your gin!
Moreover, you can use either dried or fresh citrus peel. Fresh will give brighter citrus notes than dried, but shouldn’t be left to infuse for too long, so you might want to add this nearer to the end of your infusion. Also, if you’re using a bottle for infusing make sure the pieces will easily go through the neck once they’ve swelled a little in the bottle. Consider, keeping a chopstick handy too for getting them out! We use a jug as it's easier to deal with afterward.
Therefore, all these apply to the recipes below its up to you, there are no rules.
Here are some other recipes that you might like to try. These have been taken from a collection of people. So, some are in grams and some in spoon measurement. However, we make no comment on these.
Everything is added to 750ml Bottle of 40%ABV Vodka (some recommend a slightly stronger strength)
- 3 tablespoons juniper berries
- 1.1/2 tablespoon green cardamom pods
- 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoon dried lemongrass
- 3 strips orange peel (try to avoid any white pith as it’s very bitter)
- cinnamon stick
- 1.1/2 stick liquorice root (or cubes)
- 20 to 25gm juniper berries
- 8 to 10gm coriander seed
- 3gm angelica root
- 1 to 2gm liquorice powder (root)
- 2 gm Orris root
- 2 gm orange peel
- 2gm lemon peel
- 20 gm dried juniper berries (about ¼ cup)
- 8 gm whole coriander, crushed (about 2 tbsp.)
- 2 gm dried orange peel (about 1½ tsp.)
- 2 gm dried lemon peel (about 1 tsp.)
- 3 gm whole cinnamon (about 1 stick)
- 1 whole cardamom pod, crushed
Also, try using a mortar and pestle - or a food processor pulsed in five one-second increments - to break up the coriander and cardamom before adding them to the other dry ingredients.
- 2 tbsp juniper berries (more if you like juniper-forward gin)
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/4 tsp whole allspice
- 3/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 peppercorns
- 1 torn bay leaf
- A small sprig of lavender
- A larger sprig of rosemary
- A small piece of dried grapefruit peel (no pith)
- A small piece of dried lemon peel (no pith)
- 2 tbsp juniper berries
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- Peels of 2 grapefruits
- Peel of 1 lemon
- Peel of 1 orange
- 4 cloves
- .5 tsp angelica root
- .25 tsp cassia bark
- .25 tsp fennel seeds
- 750 ml Vodka
- 2 tablespoons juniper berries
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed
- 4 allspice berries
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 3 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 long orange peel
- Juniper - About 2 Spoonful’s
- Whole Coriander - Heaping 1/4 tsp
- Rosemary - Heaping 1/4 tsp
- Lavender Flowers - Heaping 1/4 tsp
- Rose Hips - 2
- Allspice Berries - 2
- Fennel Seed - 1/8 tsp
- Pulverized Dried Lemon Peel - 1/8 tsp
- Tellicherry Black Peppercorns - 2
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Green Cardamom Pods - 3
- Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of juniper berries. Let sit for 12 hours.
- 1/8 tsp fennel seed
- four black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp allspice berries
- 3/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/8 tsp grains of paradise (I added these, you might want to skip)
- 3/4 tsp fresh orange zest (original calls for 1 tsp)
- 3/4 tsp lemon zest (original calls for 1/2 tsp)
- one sprig rosemary
- Let sit for another 12 hours.
- Strain through a fine mesh, and if you can manage, back into its bottle.
- 7g Juniper berries
- 3.5g Coriander seed
- 0.25g Cassia
- 0.3g Liquorice root
- 0.2g Orris root powder
- 0.2g Angelica root
- 0.5g Mixed citrus peel (fresh & grated)
- 0.2g Frankincense
- 0.1g Myrrh
- 0.2g Cardamom
Some extra notes on this one.
Firstly, we used mixed citrus (grapefruit, orange, and lime) because, by some stroke of coincidence, we had no lemons in the house. Actually, the Frankincense and Myrrh are there because we were curious about what taste they would impart. Also, we had this strange idea about putting some gold flakes in it and giving it as Christmas presents, with the label “Nativity Gin”. For some reason, upon weighing, we doubled the quantity of Orris and Angelica we had planned on using.
- Neutral spirit 1 litre (as above)
- Juniper berries 44.1 g
- Coriander 6.3 g
- Bitter orange peel 1/4 tsp
- Dried liquorice root 1/4 tsp
- Star anise 1/4 tsp
- Cinnamon stick 1/4 tsp
- The Zest of sweet orange 1/8 tsp
- Zest of lemon 1/4 tsp
- Zest of lime 1/2 tsp
- Clove 1/4 tsp
- Rosemary leaves pinch
- 1 bunch basil
- 1/2 lemon
- 2/3 oz simple syrup
- 3 oz gin
First, stuff the basil into a cocktail shaker, followed by the lemon. Muddle the lemon and the basil, smashing the ingredients and squeezing the lemon.
Then, add simple syrup, mix.
Thirdly, fill the shaker with ice, top with gin. Shake vigorously until very cold — about 30 or so seconds. A good rule of thumb is to stop when the shaker begins to frost over and it’s almost too painfully cold to hold. Double-strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, squeezing every bit of liquid through a fine-mesh strainer with a bar spoon.
Finally, give the glass a stir and add more ice if necessary. Garnish with another basil leaf. Gin & Tonic, the classic!
- 2 oz gin
- 5 oz tonic water
- 1 lime wedge
Now, pour the gin and the tonic water into a highball glass almost filled with ice cubes. Stir well and garnish with the lime wedge. Enjoy!
Case Study (we strongly recommend you buy a bottle of both so you can see exactly where we are going on this). We thought you might be interested to know why certain Gin like Tanqueray No. Ten (47.3% ABV ) are so special and it will give you something to strive for in your pursuit of the perfect Gin.
In 2000, on the heels of releasing Tanqueray Malacca Gin, Tanqueray released Tanqueray No. Ten Gin. Further, both releases were aimed at a new movement in gin, loosely referred to as New Western Style Gin, that shifted the focus slightly away from juniper to spotlight what other botanicals in gin can bring to the mix. So, part of this movement came as a reaction to a new generation of drinkers who had grown up with a distaste for the strong juniper in gin. Equally, another was as a response to the incubatory phase of the now explosive craft cocktail revolution.
Tanqueray No. Ten Gin gets its name from being made in Tanqueray’s number ten still, also affectionately referred to as “Tiny Ten”. This small still was used as an experimental/trial run still at the distillery before becoming the key still for Tanqueray 10. There is a misconception that Tanqueray 10 gets its name from the number of botanicals in the mix; in fact, the recipe for Tanqueray 10 has all four of the base botanicals from Tanqueray London Dry: juniper, coriander, angelica, and liquorice.
Tanqueray 10 adds an additional four elements to the mix, including fresh white grapefruit, fresh lime, fresh orange, and camomile flowers for a total of 8 botanicals. One of the things which makes Tanqueray 10 unique is that it uses fresh whole citrus rather than dried citrus peels. Dried peels are used for most gins on the market and very few actually use fresh fruit.
Actually, the nose of Tanqueray 10 reflects the abundance of fresh fruit, and while juniper is still a lead note, it’s joined by lime and grapefruit which act like co-stars in the equation. Under the citrus are some of the same botanicals as with Tanqueray London Dry Gin including coriander, black pepper, and angelica root.
Ultimately, it’s the lime that seems to be most persistent in the glass. That lime is also the star of the entry which combines fresh lime and fresh grapefruit along with juniper and angelica root. Notably, the angelica root is as pronounced at the entry as the juniper, giving the entry a slightly nutty, rooty, spicy quality.
This root spice combined with the piney juniper become the core of the mid-palate, which has a much warmer spice quality to it than Tanqueray London Dry Gin. Now, it’s here where the influence of the camomile flowers is most apparent with a slightly bitter floral spice that combines with the coriander, liquorice, and a black pepper note from the juniper. Certainly, Tanqueray 10 Gin has the same subtle sweet note from the grain in the mid-palate, which lends a sweet quality to the citrus as well as makes the angelica root come off more sweet and warm than earthy, the finish is long and spicy with juniper, black pepper, and lime lingering on the palate.
With strong citrus aromatics and a core of warm spice, Tanqueray 10 is suited to a very different range of cocktails than the traditional Tanqueray London Dry Gin. While Tanqueray London Dry Gin is the go-to gin for a gin and tonic, Tanqueray 10 works much better in cocktails like the Aviation, the Southside, and the Gin Rickey. With its fresh citrus core, Tanqueray Ten is often our gin of choice in citrus-focused cocktails, and it’s considered by many to be one of the best gins for the martini.
Tanqueray London Dry Gin and Tanqueray No. Ten Gin shares many key elements of style. However, they are unique spirits. Tanqueray London Dry Gin is all about how just a few botanicals can come together around juniper to make a complex and flavourful gin, while Tanqueray No. Ten Gin is about presenting a wider palette of flavours to build on for cocktails. The difference between Tanqueray London Dry Gin and Tanqueray 10 is like the difference between a wrench and pliers - they both can perform similar tasks, but they are ultimately different tools.
Producing top-quality spirits and liqueurs with the Still Spirits range of products is so easy anyone can do it. Hence, whether you already have experience of making wine or beer, or are completely new to the hobby it's certainly worth a try.
In conclusion, if you're thinking of starting making your own spirits, take a look at the cost of producing spirits & liqueurs page, as you will be blown away by just how much you can save by making your own spirits & liqueurs!