The Craft Gin Club experts are known for selecting only the finest small-batch gins from around the world, so who better to ask how how to make your very own gin at home, to either impress all your friends and family with or greedily hoard for yourself.
"For a spirit that is so complex, nuanced and diverse, gin in its most basic form is actually pretty straightforward. It’s a neutral base spirit which is flavoured with botanicals – so essentially, like vodka with extra bits.
"The only real stipulation for it to be called ‘gin’ is that there is juniper is the dominant botanical and it is at least 37.5 per cent Abv. Beyond that, the world is kind of your oyster.
"Most ‘proper’, commercial gin makers extract the flavours from their botanicals through distillation, it is very possible to make gin simply by ‘steeping’ them in the base spirit. Which in fact means it is very possible to make your own gin at home, using vodka.
"The technical name for this is compound gin but it’s also sometimes called ‘bathtub gin’, in reference to the vessel in which batches were illegally made during American Prohibition in the 1920s.
"There’s nothing illegal about whipping up a bit of your own homemade gin – and it can be great fun.
"Beyond the vodka and the juniper berries, you can feel free to experiment with whatever botanicals you like. Some of the most commonly used gin botanicals (after juniper) are coriander seed, angelica root, citrus peel and cassia bark or cinnamon – but feel free to raid the spice cabinet and herb garden.
You could try bay leaves, rosemary, liquorice powder, lavender, cardamom, cumin, fennel seeds, lemongrass…pretty much anything you fancy!
"Here’s a basic recipe to get you started – you can either follow it exactly or use it as a blank canvas on which to paint your masterpiece!
• 750ml good quality vodka
• 2 tbsp juniper berries (more if you like juniper-forward gin)
• 1 tsp coriander seeds
• 2 cardamom pods
• 2 peppercorns
• Half a cinnamon stick
• A small piece of dried orange peel (remove the white pith as it’s very bitter)
• A small piece of dried lemon peel (again, no pith)
1 Sterilise a clean mason jar or glass bottle with boiling water
2 Add your botanicals to the jar, minus any fresh peel
3 Top up with vodka, then leave to infuse in a cool dark place for 24 hours
4 Taste the infusion – it should have taken on some lovely juniper ginnyness already. Add your fresh peel, along with and extra botanicals whose flavour you want to boost.
5 Leave for up to another 24 hours, giving the bottle a gentle shake at least once. Beware of leaving it too long and over-infusing the mixture – think of it a bit like brewing tea.
6 Taste again and if you’re happy, then filter out all the botanicals using a sieve. If there’s still some sediment left, use some muslin or a coffee filter to strain again.
7 Leave the liquid to sit for a couple of days and then filter out any remaining sediment – and put through a water filter jug if you want to make it even clearer (but as we said, don’t worry too much about the colour).
8 Bottle your gin – feel free to create your own label if you want – and you’re ready to try your creation out on your nearest and dearest.