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Gin production - create your own recipe!

posted on 25.01.2016 12:25 hour

Are you interested in making your own Gin?

If so, you will surely find this blog very informative. There is almost no other drink that is easier to make than Gin. And it is extremely versatile.

Produce up to 10 liters of Gin with our 0.5 L miniature stills!

10 liters with a miniature still? Believe it or not, but it’s definitely possible! But first, I would like to draw your attention to a rather funny self-experiment in terms of making Gin. This spontaneous idea has been so successful that I decided to book a Gin seminar for my employees with a renowned distiller. But more of this later…


The spontaneous Gin experiment

More by coincidence, I walked past fresh turmeric in a supermarket and became curious of the aroma. That’s when I thought about Gin and what other ingredients I could mix in to create my own recipe.

Important hereby is that Gin is always based on the aroma of juniper and this ingredient must never be forgotten as the absence of juniper won’t allow you to call your drink a “Gin”. Gin is a juniper berry schnapps with many herbs and spices. But there is not only one recipe, there are many! And that is exactly the fun part of making Gin. You can add whatever you like!

My mixture contained ginger, lemons, cloves, coriander and tonka beans.

10 Liter Gin mit der Minidestille herstellen

Limitless variety!

Gin allows you to add all the ingredients you like and you can mix them in the amounts you choose. Use one tonka bean or 5 (or none), a handful or lemon peels or two – experiment and find out what you prefer. Please don’t forget to write down how much you used of each ingredient. If your Gin turns out really well, you will regret not remembering the exact amounts. Trust me on that!

Interested in intense aromas? Then you should finely grind the spices and soak them in corn schnapps for about an hour before distilling the mixture. The same goes for the juniper aroma. The finely ground or chopped berries should rest in corn schnapps for several days. This intensity allows you to use the full spectrum of flavours for your Gin.

10 Liter Gin mit der Minidestille herstellen

Better results without lemon peels

Best results require a good preparation and…a lot of experimenting. For example, lemon peels should be rid of the white skin. Otherwise, it leaves a bad taste in your Gin due to bitter substances in it. A mistake I won’t make again!

I have used the 0.5 L Whisky still in the picture for distilling my herbal mixture. The shape of the still doesn’t matter in this case, because the ingredients swim in the alcohol and you don’t need to separate the heads from the middle run as I used a store-bought corn-schnapps.

After the distilling process has been completed, dilute the mixture with distilled water to receive 38% vol. You can obtain up to 200 ml of Gin in just one run.

10 Liter Gin mit der Minidestille herstellen

Experimenting is the key!

Try different herbs and spices, but make sure not to use too many ingredients at the same time. You can create many different Gin variations and recipes.

Again, always keep in mind to write down the amount of each ingredient you have used!

10 Liter Gin mit der Minidestille herstellen


Our Gin seminar with Stefan Bierbaum

...that’s where  Stefan Bierbaum came into the picture! He is a professional distiller from Germany and offers Gin seminars. We were thrilled about the idea and to learn about all his background knowledge as well as the passion for his profession. As you can imagine, we had an entire catalogue of questions for him and all of them have been answered thoroughly and in detail.

10 Liter Gin mit der Minidestille herstellen

10 lites of Gin with our miniature stills

On January 7, we eagerly awaited our Gin training! After so many years of distilling and passionate experimenting, I thought I would know everything. But I was proven wrong! Mr Bierbaum surprised me with many new tricks and tips on distilling and flavouring of alcohol. So in return, I would like to share this knowledge with you. We never really finish learning!

First of all, let me explain to you that there is indeed a difference between a master distiller and a professional distiller. A master distiller sets his focus on mashing (fruits or grains) and distilling. He also distills the alcohol after the fermentation is complete.

A professional distiller, on the other hand, uses the finished product of the master distiller and adds or extracts aromas and flavours with it. You have to have a very fine nose (and taste buds) to smell all the different spices and herbs in order to create tasty recipes. Plus, you should know a lot about all the varieties and how the herbal aroma blends into alcohol. Professional distilling and flavouring is exactly what we did on that day! We mixed different herbs & spices to obtain a concentrated essence by distilling the mixtures with alcohol (corn schnapps).

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The agony of choice!

For a unique Gin recipe, you have the agony of choice. The selection we were presented with is only a small fraction of all the possibilities. We had to choose from more than 120 herbs and spices. You can surely imagine how long that has taken us. That’s the reason Mr Bierbaum advised using only 3 to 5 ingredients first and to play around with the amounts we would like to use for our Gin recipe. A science in itself!

Mr Bierbaum divided us into groups and invited us to choose the ingredients. My mixture included coriander, rose hip, grains of paradise, orange peels and orange blossoms. It was finely ground and distilled with 200 ml of corn schnapps to receive 100 ml of a strong, concentrated essence.

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Glass stills & Gin!

In the picture you can see the glass stills that we used for distilling. Mr Bierbaum used our Ardes Cico hotplates to heat up the mixture. At the same time he explained the importance of copper for the production of alcohol. Without it, the sulphur and cyanide components cannot be catalyzed and you would receive a bad tasting alcohol that wouldn’t be marketable.

 Because we used store-bought corn schnapps for the seminar and the separation process of heads, middle run and tails has already been completed by the producer, glass stills were sufficient to use on that day. Plus, it was fun to watch the mixture simmer in the still.

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Endless varieties of Gin!

As soon as the other groups finished preparing their ingredients, the other stills were filled and the mixture was brought to a boil. We couldn’t help it but taste the different concentrated essences from each group and surprisingly, the mixtures differed a lot. Each group created a totally unique recipe and aroma.

We used a number of plastic cups (alcohol proof) to collect each aroma separately. You wouldn’t believe how many different aromas you can actually extract from only 200 ml of a herbal mixture. We had a total of 10 cups with only the bottom of each slightly covered.

These were later used to flavour our Gin.

The variety of aromas in those cups allows you to create a full spectrum of different flavours in your Gin.

Collect as many aromas during the distillation of the essence as possible and try one or two drops as they drip out. You can then decide when to collect a specific aroma.

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Don’t forget the juniper!

As previously explained, Gin is based on the juniper aroma and this ingredient must be perceptible. It is the main flavour of a good Gin.

You can use 200 ml of finely grinded juniper berries with around 200 ml of corn schnapps. Mr Bierbaum had already prepared the juniper extract for us days before the seminar started.

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Taste it!

What would a Gin seminar be without a „tasting“ of our self-made creations? Yes, you guessed it! ;-)

But first things first! We had two essences – the juniper and the herbal aroma. Now it was time to carefully mix them together with the corn schnapps. In order not to spoil all the hard work, we filled 100 ml of corn schnapps into a little measuring glass and added several drops of the concentrated essences with a small measuring pipette – one drop of each essence at a time! We made sure that everything mixed well and tasted it before adding more drops. Each participant received a bottle with corn schnapps and experimented with the essences. This resulted in a huge variety of Gin flavours.

We used 0.5 ml of juniper essence in 100 ml of corn schnapps and would not recommend using more than 2 ml in total for a 1 L bottle. But this is of course entirely up to you and how strong you would like the aromas to be! 

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Transforming cheap corn schnapps!

Thank to Mr Bierbaum we now know how to transform a cheap store-bought corn schnapps into a unique and tasty Gin.

For my grains of paradise Gin I have only used 30 drops of aroma essence per bottle and was really happy about the results.

10 Liter Gin mit der Minidestille herstellen

Thank you for reading!

I hope that I have encouraged you to create your own Gin recipe! I can surely promise that experimenting with different herbs and spices is a lot of fun and the results are rewarding.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact us for advice and support.

Your Kai Moeller & The Destillatio Team

Unicobres Team