Gin is a loved beverage because it can be enjoyed chilled, at room temperature, on the rocks, or even in specific mixes. This fine tasting beverage is also considered a ‘healthier’ alcohol because it contains few calories and the botanical ingredients used in gin offers health-boosting benefits.
If you love making your own spirits at home, your next question will probably be whether you can make gin at home or not. And the answer is yes. There are lots of people who enjoy making their own gin and in this guide, we are going to share one of the easiest ways to make your own gin at home.
Are Gin And Vodka The Same?
Quite a few people believe that there is no real difference between gin and vodka because both are neutral spirits.
The big difference between these two liquors is that gin has additional ingredients such as juniper berries or other botanicals. These additional ingredients make a huge taste difference in these two beverages.
Vodka is mostly tasteless and odorless but gin usually offers distinct herbal and pine flavors or aromas. In short; gin is flavored vodka.
Is Gin Made Out Of Vodka?
If gin is simply flavored vodka, isn’t it possible to simply add flavors to your vodka to create gin?
The answer is both yes and no because gin can be made using different techniques. Here is a quick look at the top ways to make gin;
Aromatics like juniper berries are added to the fermented mash and distilled together from the start. This is a practical method if you know that you prefer gin to vodka and want to make gin specifically and if you don’t mind producing low proof spirits.
Natural base spirits (vodka) can be added to a still along with aromatic ingredients such as juniper berries before it is redistilled. The gin produced from this method is often stronger or has a higher proof than the original vodka that was used for distilling because proof increases every time liquor is redistilled. This technique is brilliant if you want to create a high proof gin that is very aromatic.
Many feel that this is one of the easiest ways to make gin. A mixture of vodka, juniper berries, and other aromatics are placed in a jar and left to infuse for 24 hours so the vodka can absorb some of the flavors. This is the easiest technique for those who might want to turn gin into vodka.
What Is Gin Made Out Of?
Gin is made from fermented grains such as sorghum, corn, rice, rye, or wheat. It can also be made from fermenting potatoes, fruits, or even clean processed sugar. Once fermented, this mash will be 16% alcohol (too low for gin).
Aromatic ingredients such as juniper berries, coriander, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond, and licorice are then added to the barrel before the product is distilled to produce a gin.
The basic ingredients for gin are grains, sugar, water, and botanicals.
How Do I Make My Own Gin?
As said before, there are a few different ways to make gin. There are also lots of different recipes you can try because this tasty beverage can be made from just about any agricultural product.
In this quick guide, we are going to use a mixture of 70% corn, 20% wheat, and 10% malt.
Gin Mash Recipe
Before we can start making gin we first need to make a vodka mash. Here is a quick and easy recipe for making your own gin mash.
- 5 Gallons of water
- 7lb Flaked corn
- 2lb Wheat malt
- 1 lb Distillers malt
- Turbo yeast
Tools you need
- A large pot
- Fermentation bucket
- Heat source
- Tall spoon
- Add 5.5gallons of water to your pot and warm it to 165 degrees F before turning off the heat.
- Stir in your 7lb flaked maize and 2 lb wheat malt. Continue to stir for 7 minutes. Keep checking the temperature while stirring for 30 seconds every 5 minutes.
- Once the temperature reaches 152 degrees F, you can stir in your crushed distiller's malt. Keep checking the temperature and continue to stir for 30 seconds every 20 minutes.
- Once your mixture has cooled to 70 degrees F, you can add your turbo yeast. You can now stir the mixture or aerate it by pouring it between containers for 5 minutes.
- Pour your mash into a fermentation bucket with an air-lock. Let your mash sit for 1 – 2 weeks for the fermentation process to complete.
- To test whether fermentation is complete, you can remove a little bit of liquid from the barrel after 1 week. Add a few droplets of iodine to the liquid. If it turns blue, your mixture is not ready yet and you need to wait a few more days. Once the liquid stops turning blue, your fermentation process is complete. (Remember to discard the test sample)
- Use cheesecloth to strain your mash.
- You can now use a pH tester to determine your pH levels. A pH level of 5.8 – 6 is ideal for your mash. You can use citric acid to reduce the pH level or calcium carbonate to increase the pH level of your mash.
The Best Gin Botanicals
Once your mash has finished fermenting, you now need to make an important decision. Are you going to introduce flavor during distillation or are you going to make vodka and introduce flavors later?
Various botanicals can be used for flavoring your mash or vodka. Here is a quick look at a good botanical combination and the required amounts for this recipe;
- 15g Juniper berries – broken open
- 6g Crushed coriander seeds
- 5g crushed cardamom seeds
- 2 crushed cinnamon sticks
- 2g licorice root
- 2g Angelica root
- 5g Orange peel
Gin Mash Distillation Recipe
Once you collected your botanicals, it is time to distill your mash. Here is a quick guide on how to do this;
- Still kit
- Copper packing
- If you are going to introduce flavor at this point, you need to add your botanicals to the still column. Grab 20” copper pacing and add it to the base of your still column. Wrap your botanical mix in a folded cheesecloth and tie a string around the top. Now lower the satchel into the column so it will rest on top of the copper. (Skip this step if you want to introduce flavor later on)
- Next, you need to add your mash to your still by siphoning the mixture.
- Fire up your still and attach your water pump to the distillation tower.
- Slowly bring your mash to 150 degrees F. You can turn on the condensing water when your mash reaches 150 degrees.
- Continue to increase the temperature until your still is running at 3 – 5 drips per second.
- Discard the first 5% (250ml) of the liquid that comes from your still. This section is called the ‘head’ and usually contains methanol which can be lethal.
- Increase temperature to 175 – 180 degrees C and collect the next 30% of the liquid. This is known as the heart.
- The last 35% of the liquid is known as the tail and will have a different smell and look. You can collect this part and run it through the still again because it contains protein and carbs that you don’t want in your gin.
Your gin will now be ready for bottling. If you prefer a high proof gin, you can run the spirits through the distiller again (include a fresh batch of botanicals) to increase the alcohol percentage.
If you didn’t add botanicals during distillation then you should have vodka instead of gin at this point. To flavor your vodka (turn vodka into gin), you can simply grab all the vodka you collected from the still and bottle them along with the crushed botanicals. Allow this mixture to sit in a dark area for 24 hours. You can now filter out all botanicals using a cheesecloth. Your mixture will now be flavored and ready for bottling as a gin.
We do hope you liked this guide and that you will have a great time making your own gin. And if you want to try to make some other tasty liquors, we welcome you to check out some of our other guides or recipes.