The flavouring in juniper berries and other botanicals is contained in oils which can be extracted either by alcohol or by steam. We have tried both methods, and both give very pleasant results, but it would be incorrect to say that the flavour is exactly like commercial gin. It is not. But many appreciative guests claim that it is actually superior to the commercial product. And who are we to contradict them!
The extraction method we use ourselves and recommend is the one involving steam distillation. It is very simple and consists of nothing more than boiling the botanicals in water and collecting the condensed steam. The equipment required is shown in Figures 8 and 9, one version being constructed from scientific glassware while the other is a cheap homemade version put together from copper tubing and a glass coffeepot.
The following recipe has been found to give a pleasant flavour:
juniper berries 35 grams The juniper berries may be broken up in a cardamom 1 " blender before use in order to hasten the orris root 1 " extraction of the oils.
coriander 1 "
Place the above ingredients in the flask, add about 350 ml of water, and bring to the boil. The steam generated will carry over into the condenser the oils contained in the botanicals. These oils can be seen as little droplets or globules in the collection bottle. Collect about 75 ml of condensate in one bottle and a second 75 ml in another. The flavour is slightly better in the first bottle. Switch off and discard the contents of the flask.
To each bottle containing 75 ml or so of distillate add an equal volume of 95% alcohol. This will dissolve the globules of oil and will also act as a preservative.
To use this flavouring essence, add about 10 ml to each litre of 40% alcohol. There is unlimited scope for trying to improve on this procedure and on the recipe given above. Using other botanicals in quite different amounts is one obvious way to get a different flavour. The other is to extract the flavours from the herbs with a hot alcohol-water mixture, and use the essence directly without resorting to distillation. This has a major advantage in needing no special equipment but the gin would be slightly coloured. However, if you are of an experimental turn of mind, this approach would be well worth exploring.
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