Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not by Beer Alone - Gin Kit

When I'm not enjoying my go-to drink, craft beer, you can usually find me with a gin and tonic in my hand.  I love the fruitiness of juniper and find that there is a seemingly endless variety to the blend of spices and botanicals that just "work" in gin.
For Christmas I received the gift of a gin kit from The HomeMade Gin Kit company. It's a simple way to, as the company says, "...make a small batch of gin at home without costly (and illegal) distilling equipment."
I started off with, not the full kit of bottles, funnel and strainer, but rather the Botanical Spice Refill Kit, that sells for a cool ten bucks. The kit contains one canister of juniper and one of a blend of botnaicals.
Add these herbs and spices to an affordable bottle of vodka and you are ready to go. The entire process takes about 36 hours.  
First, add the container of juniper berries to the bottle.
Let the bottle sit for 24 hours. After just 24 hours of steeping the juniper, the rather bland vodka had an AMAZING bright and citrus aroma. At this point I'm thinking, "Wow, this is actually gonna be gin."
Then add the blend of botanicals. It just fit in the 750ml bottle.
Let the botanicals and earlier added juniper, steep for another twelve hours.
At the 36 hour mark, strain the contents of the bottle to remove the juniper, herbs and spices. I used a small metal strainer and poured the gin into several pint glasses, before pouring it back into the original bottle.
The final product was a slightly off-yellow color, not the normal sparkling clear gin I'm use to buying at the liquor store.
The aroma and flavor are heavily spiced, with strong notes of peppery Rosemary and coriander.

While the company does not disclose the contents of the botanical blend, I could identify what looked like coriander, rose hip, bay leaf and rosemary.
The gin has a VERY strong pepper and spice aroma and flavor. I'm tempted to try this kit again and use only the juniper berries without adding the botanical blend.  The botanicals are overpowering and distract from the clean juniper flavor.
In the future I plan to make other batches of gin made with my own blend of spices.  My initial thoughts are a gin with only juniper, maybe some lemon peel and rose hips too.

The kit transforms a mediocre bottle of neutral spirit into a spicy and juniper fruity blend of flavors.  All I think we need is a splash of tonic and a wedge of lime to complete this beverage. Cheers!