Have you ever asked yourself the Question “What is gin made from”? Well you are not alone. Every time we attend a trade show or consumer tasting event we inevitably meet consumers who ask us questions like, “How do you make gin”, “what is gin made from” and “how many different types of gin” are there?
After reading this article you will know everything you need to know about gin!
To answer the question “what is gin made from” it makes sense to first look at the base spirit. All distilled gins start with a base of neutral spirit, this is usually grain based and is known as grain neutral spirit (GNS). This neutral spirit is then redistilled with a number of botanicals which impart their flavour by releasing essential oils during the distillation process to create the spirit that we know as gin, the base for the humble gin and tonic!
In order for a Spirit to be classified as gin it must use juniper berries as the main botanical and must be bottled at a minimum of 37.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). In addition to juniper, most gins will also use coriander and angelica. This combination is often referred to as the “holy trinity” in gin. Many gins also use a citrus botanical such as lemon or lime (did you know that Sixling is the only Irish gin which uses grapefruit as it’s only citrus? – this is why grapefruit pairs so well with our unique Irish gin)! Another botanical that is often used is Oris root powder from the Iris flower. Oris root powder is an interesting botanical as it does not add much flavour to the gin itself but it works as a “fixative”, helping to bring out and enhance the flavour of the other botanicals.
In addition to the above botanicals, distillers have the freedom to add as many different botanicals as they like which is why there are so many completely unique flavours of gin and why there is no one recipe which answers the question “what is gin made from”? This is why you can’t just ask for a “gin and tonic” and expect to get the best gin each time.
How is gin made?
So now we have answered the question “What is gin made from”, we can begin to look at the question of “How is gin made”? The distillation process typically takes around 8 hours but this can vary by the batch size and the equipment being used. Once distilled, the resulting Spirit will come off the still at between 60% and 70% ABV. Water is then added to bring the ABV to the required strength. Distilled gin must be at least 37.5%. Sixling Irish Gin is bottled at 41.7% as we found this to be the optimum strength for the flavours from our unique botanical combination to shine through in both a Sixling gin and Tonic and a Sixling Cocktail.
The distillation process usually involves either “maceration” or “vapour infusion” but some gins such as our very own Sixling Irish gin use a combination of both. Maceration involves steeping the botanicals in GNS in the base of the still, the resulting flavours are them imparted from boiling during distillation.
Vapour infusion involves placing botanicals in the neck of the still so they are not boiled but the flavours are released in a more delicate manner via infusion as steam passes through the neck of the still. We macerate our Juniper and coriander for 24 hours prior to distillation and we vapour infuse our cloudberries and a number of our other botanicals. Maceration and vapour infusion can create very different flavour profiles and are therefore important to consider when asking the question “How is gin made” and “how do you make the best gin”.
One of the benefits of gin production is that gin can be distilled and bottled in the same day unlike some other types of spirit (such as Whiskey which requires a minimum aging period of 3 years). So you could be enjoying your gin and tonic on the same day it has been distilled! This is why many whiskey producers have also asked the question “how is gin made” as they often see this an additional source of revenue whilst their Whiskey matures. At Grills Spirts, we actually rest Sixling Irish gin for at least 8 weeks before bottling as we find the extra resting period allows the flavours from our botanical combination to blend together and really shine through the liquid, helping to make Sixling gin one of the best gins in the World as voted at the World Gin Awards 2020 and best Irish gins as voted by the Irish Gin Awards 2019.
We spent two years crafting the recipe for Sixling gin and finding our own answers to the questions “What is gin made from” and “how is gin made”. We wanted to create the best Irish gin to be used both in a gin and tonic and gin cocktail and as we found out, crafting the best gin takes time.
Sixling Irish Gin is Ireland’s only cloudberry infused gin and is recognised as one of the best gins on the market. Sixling has twice won best Irish Gin (Best Irish Contemporary gin 2020 at the world gin awards and Best Irish Distilled Gin 2019 at the Irish Gin awards).
Cloudberries used to grow in Ireland but are extremely rare here now. We source our cloudberries from Scandinavia to bring back a forgotten favour of Ancient Ireland. Because they are so rare, cloudberries grab the attention of today’s craft spirit consumer making Sixling a must have spirit and help to make Sixling one of the best Irish gins available When consumers taste Sixling they are brought on a unique and lingering flavour journey. With its unique design, the branding for Sixling Gin also stands out amongst the crowd. A double-sided back label captures a sunset effect through the bottle and gives different illumination depending on the light. Our Sixling Irish gin stands out on the crowded shelf and is also regarded as one the best Irish gins in terms of branding