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The Chemistry Of Gin

Gin comes in a number of different flavours and styles. Which means they all have varying chemical compositions which stem from the types and varieties of botanicals used with each gin recipe. However, juniper berries are the only constant when making a gin and must be used as the primary flavour.

Below are the three main processes for making gin. Unless you have a nice shed and a deep pocket, we focus our gin making through a method known as Compound Gin. 

Let’s get the goggle and white lab coat on as we dive a little bit into the chemistry of gin and the compounds attributed to Gin Flavours as we know it.

But first, a little history. Gin has been made for centuries. Francis Sylvius, a Dutch physician and scientist have been credited with the discovery of Gin however it has been dated back to the 13th century. Back then Gin was used as a medicine for the treatment of various illnesses but as time went by it later became a recreational drink.

Like many other spirits, Gin can come in a number of varieties. It can also be made in a number of ways too. 

Compound Gins involve the flavouring of the neutral spirit with botanical ingredients. There is no further distillation process involved and so they Gin remains a golden hue. Distilled gin, however, does involve the process of distillation. This process also results in the gin displaying a clear liquid form. The process of distillation can be completed by using either a pot still or column still. Each process requires a neutral spirit that is initially flavourless. The process of distillation extracts the compounds from the botanicals into the distillate. The resulting flavour depends solely on the ratios and ingredients added, the specifics of which are a closely guarded secret.

So lets quickly look at some of the commonly used Botanicals used in Gin to understand what compounds are present and the resulting flavours. 

Juniper Berry Compounds contain a wide range of terpene compounds for the gin; alpha-pinene, beta-myrcene, limonene, gamma-terpentine, p-cymene, sabinene and beta-pinene. Ok great, so what does this mean?

Well, Pinene & Limonene provide the flavours such as woody, piney, sweet, citrus. Mycerbe offers woody and herbaceous character as does Bornyl Acetate. The spicy, piney flavour of juniper berries is associate to the terpinenol compound.

Brain hurting yet?

Coriander is also a commonly used ingredient when making gin. Linanlool is the major compound found and offers a floral and spicy tone. Geranyl acetate is another coriander compound detected in gins providing a floral and rosy character.

The point is that each botanical contributes to the overall flavour of the gin. Botanicals such as angelica, almonds, cinnamon, cassia root and allspice all impart their own flavour. The challenge is getting that perfect balance which you can do through your own Premium Gin Kit.

Our Gin Academy Page offers great insight into botanicals commonly used in gin making. Your botanical wheel found in your kit will also be a great aid.