For centuries, gin has captivated palates worldwide with its aromatic symphony of botanicals. While large-scale distilleries have their charm, the world of small-batch gin holds a special allure.
Small-batch distilling is an intimate dance between science and sensibility, where every step of the process celebrates the distillers' artistry and precision. To appreciate the full depth of this craft, let's dive into the distillation process that brings small-batch gin to life.
- Botanical Selection: Handpicking the Perfect Blend
The journey begins with the careful selection of botanicals. Small-batch distilleries take pride in sourcing high-quality ingredients that profoundly impact the gin's flavour profile. While traditional ingredients like juniper berries, coriander seeds, and citrus peels are commonly used, small-batch distillers often experiment with unique botanicals to create their signature blends. This exploration might involve herbs, flowers, spices, or locally foraged ingredients reflecting the regional terroir.
- Maceration and Infusion: Unlocking Flavours
Once the botanicals are ready, they are macerated or soaked in a high-quality neutral spirit. This allows the alcohol to extract the aromatic compounds and essential oils from the botanicals, infusing the liquid with distinct flavours. The maceration process can vary in length, from a few hours to several days, depending on the desired intensity of flavours.
- Distillation: The Transformation of Spirit
Distillation is the crucial process that transforms the macerated alcohol into gin. A still, typically made of copper, is used to heat the liquid and encourage the separation of alcohol vapours from impurities. As the liquid is heated, the alcohol vapour rises through the still's neck and passes through a condenser, which is cooled and transformed into a liquid form.
During distillation, the distiller can fine-tune the flavour profile by separating and discarding certain compounds, such as unwanted oils or harsh elements. This allows for the creation of a smoother and more refined gin.
- Cut and Blending: Finding the Perfect Balance
After distillation, the distiller must make careful cuts to separate the heart of the spirit, known as the "cut," from the heads (early distillate) and tails (late distillate). The cut contains the desired flavours and aromas that define the gin.
Once the cut has been perfected, the distiller may blend it with other batches or spirits to achieve the desired complexity and balance. The distiller's expertise and creativity genuinely shine in this blending process as they carefully craft a unique expression of their gin.
- Resting and Bottling: Allowing Flavours to Meld
To allow the flavours to integrate and mellow, small-batch gins often undergo a period of resting. This can range from a few weeks to several months when the gin becomes smoother and more refined. Once the resting period is complete, the gin is ready to be bottled, each bottle a testament to the distiller's skill and dedication.
When you sip on a small-batch gin, you're not just experiencing a well-crafted spirit. You're tasting the culmination of botanical selection, maceration, distillation, blending, and resting—an intricate process that transforms raw ingredients into a symphony of flavours.
We have so many wonderful small-batch gin distillers on board we simply can't list them all here! Ask us to choose the perfect match to suit your brief.