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Infusions & Tinctures at Home: The Topic


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#331 KatieLoeb

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 11:53 PM

Try a nice tropical herbal tea infusion. Don't let the tea sit too long if it is a black tea base. Green or Rooibos teas can sit a bit longer without turning unnecessarily tannic and nasty. I'd start with a couple of hours in a small sample and gauge up from there. Then make daiquiris, caipirinas or whatever out of your infused cachaca.

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#332 Tri2Cook

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:43 AM

Thanks Katie, that sounds like an idea I should check out. I may split it into 2 or 3 smaller batches and try different things if suggestions like that keep coming.
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#333 jmf50852

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:19 AM

I have had good luck with Svedka. I use it to make vanilla extract. It has a good clean taste and is relatively inexpensive.

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#334 Kent Wang

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:25 PM

The rum-infused raisins are a little strong, but infusing with vermouth (or wine, I suppose), both sweet and dry, is just right.

Rum infused dried apricots are just right and quite tasty. I guess they're not absorbent as the raisins.

I think dried fruits have a lot of potential for infusions.

I have an almost-full bottle of Pitu cachaca that I bought when it was my only available option. It's been sitting dormant since I got my hands on a bottle of Leblon. I'm wondering if there's anything interesting I could infuse it with so that it has a reason to be in the cabinet. I've been planning to make some allspice dram, would it be suitable for that? I actually considered infusing it with fresh sugar cane at one point but that seemed like it might just end up tasting like sweet Pitu. I'm not sure the green, grassy flavors of the cane would translate... and I'm not sure what I'd do with it once I had it. I also considered using it as the base for a ginger liqueur. Anyway, I'm open to ideas.

All those suggestions sound good. Even if you end up with sweet Pitu then all you need to do is add lime to make caipirinhas.

#335 Mixology Minded

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 03:45 PM

Home infusions are, usually, the best route to go. You can control the overall sweetness, tart, bitter, etc., to your palate. As for the rule of thumb on what quality of spirit to purchase, don't spend top $$ on a spirit you are going to infuse. When purchasing vodka, the usual neutral spirit of choice, I go with Smirnoff, Skyy, Tito's, and Stoli. They are great quality for the price, in fact, I normally stay away from "high end" vodkas in general. Vodka doesn't really have the notes and distinguishing characteristics as other neutral spirits, such as gin, so paying big bucks for something you base quality on how much it doesn't burn isn't really worth the $$$. Also when infusing, depending on whether it's just a basic fruit or sweetner, you usually only want to infuse for 2 to 5 days, then remove the infusions by fine straining. But others like making your own Lemoncello may take up to 2 months. Some may require you to refrigerate your newly infused vodka (usually fruit based) and others you can keep indefinitely at room temp (dried herbs,etc.). Hope this helps. Cheers!

#336 ZombieAddict

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 02:52 PM

Recently had a jalapeno infused tequila cocktail at Angel's share in NYC that I can't forget. Since I don't live there was thinking of infusing blanco tequila with jalapenos and mixing with pineapple juice. Anyone have any suggestions for how long to leave the jalapenos in the tequila? Would I need to filter it out and store in the fridge after its done. Also is blanco the way to go or should I try Reposado or Anejo? Any tips would be appreciated.

#337 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 04:19 PM

Recently had a jalapeno infused tequila cocktail at Angel's share in NYC that I can't forget. Since I don't live there was thinking of infusing blanco tequila with jalapenos and mixing with pineapple juice. Anyone have any suggestions for how long to leave the jalapenos in the tequila? Would I need to filter it out and store in the fridge after its done. Also is blanco the way to go or should I try Reposado or Anejo? Any tips would be appreciated.


Not long--capsaicin is notoriously volatile and the whole mess may become searingly hot within just a few hours. I'd start tasting no later than the 2 hour mark, if I were going to try something like this.
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#338 KatieLoeb

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 04:31 PM

If you slice the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and ribs, you can let it sit longer to no ill effect. I have a recipe for a jalapeno and cilantro infused tequila in my book for use as an oyster shooter with a splash of pineapple juice on top, or as a martini with a bit more pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice and shaken then served up. It's called Chihuahua tequila, the martini version is a Rabid Chihuahua. :smile:

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#339 ZombieAddict

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 06:29 PM

If you slice the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and ribs, you can let it sit longer to no ill effect. I have a recipe for a jalapeno and cilantro infused tequila in my book for use as an oyster shooter with a splash of pineapple juice on top, or as a martini with a bit more pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice and shaken then served up. It's called Chihuahua tequila, the martini version is a Rabid Chihuahua. Posted Image


Thanks Katie! Tried it yesterday. Filled the jar with half cut jalapenos. Tasted it 3 hours in and it was perfect but could not believe it was done that quickly so let it infuse for a few more hours. Unfortunately now it's a little too spicy. Having some friends over to try it. Might mix 3/4 ounce of it with 4/3 ounce regular tequila and 5 ounces pineapple juice to make 2 cocktails. Will experiment and see how it goes.

For the rest of the bottle the plan is to make 1 or 2 cocktails like one I read about which mixes 2 ounces of tequila with 1 ounce of dolin blanc and pechauds and orange biiters. For the remainder I intend to go to trader joe's and look at their dried fruits selection and pick something from there to infuse it with. Current top contenders are dried strawberries or dried chili rubbed mangoes.

#340 sbumgarner

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 06:24 AM

I'm thinking about doing a pineapple-sage mezcal infusion that I've seen on a few cocktail menus over the years. My original plan was to let the pineapple sit in the mezcal for 2-3 weeks (much like the Tequila por Mi Amante recipe) and then add the sage a few days before the end. Is this too long? I see a few people on this thread have done pineapples in overproof rum for only a few days, but with the mezcal at 80 proof it seems like I'd need considerably longer.

I was also thinking about doing the sage infusion via the Dave Arnold/whipped cream charger technique and then letting the pineapple infuse into the mezcal-sage infusion. I get a little nervous about herb infusions as the few I've done have gotten gross when not pulled out at just the right time, figured the NO2 charger might take some of the guesswork out.

#341 Jane Randahl

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 10:00 PM

I wouldn't infuse cheap Vodka. I'd use some really good stuff with character, like Belvedere or Chopin. Or something neutral but clean tasting like Absolut or Stolichnaya.



I totally agree with this; buying cheap vodka and infusing it seems like like 'masking' than it does infusion. You want a vodka that is pretty taste neutral and smooth so that it can take the flavor of whatever its being infused with. Infusing a good vodka with a tincture will make it taste like the tincture, cheap vodka infused would still taste like vodka.

That said, there are a few brands that are better than others. Smirnoff comes to mind and so does Absolut (Not sure how cheap you wanted to go).

However, in my opinion Gray Goose if you can afford it. That would be a wonderful brand to infuse.

#342 Kevin Liu

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:38 PM

I'm thinking about doing a pineapple-sage mezcal infusion that I've seen on a few cocktail menus over the years. My original plan was to let the pineapple sit in the mezcal for 2-3 weeks (much like the Tequila por Mi Amante recipe) and then add the sage a few days before the end. Is this too long? I see a few people on this thread have done pineapples in overproof rum for only a few days, but with the mezcal at 80 proof it seems like I'd need considerably longer.


What is the benefit of letting the pineapple sit in the tequila rather than, saying pulverizing the pineapple with the tequila in a blender? I imagine the biggest issue will be filtering/clarification, but if you have a technique for that, is the long rest time really necessary?
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#343 ZombieAddict

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:55 PM


If you slice the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and ribs, you can let it sit longer to no ill effect. I have a recipe for a jalapeno and cilantro infused tequila in my book for use as an oyster shooter with a splash of pineapple juice on top, or as a martini with a bit more pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice and shaken then served up. It's called Chihuahua tequila, the martini version is a Rabid Chihuahua. Posted Image


Thanks Katie! Tried it yesterday. Filled the jar with half cut jalapenos. Tasted it 3 hours in and it was perfect but could not believe it was done that quickly so let it infuse for a few more hours. Unfortunately now it's a little too spicy. Having some friends over to try it. Might mix 3/4 ounce of it with 4/3 ounce regular tequila and 5 ounces pineapple juice to make 2 cocktails. Will experiment and see how it goes.

For the rest of the bottle the plan is to make 1 or 2 cocktails like one I read about which mixes 2 ounces of tequila with 1 ounce of dolin blanc and pechauds and orange biiters. For the remainder I intend to go to trader joe's and look at their dried fruits selection and pick something from there to infuse it with. Current top contenders are dried strawberries or dried chili rubbed mangoes.


So with half of the bottle I tried infusing it with dried mangoes. I left it for a day and now I have a syrupy infusion that is 1/3 or 1/4 of the volume I put in and some alcoholic tasting plump mangoes. Is this the cost of doing business with dried fruit or am I doing something wrong. I didn't know there was going to be a substantial mangoes share? Any tips or thoughts? This could become very expensive if 3/4 of the liquor goes into the dried fruit.

#344 Tri2Cook

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:41 PM

Is this the cost of doing business with dried fruit or am I doing something wrong.


It's the cost. Dried anything will try to get it's water back if given the opportunity. I've never infused with dried fruit so I'll leave the tips to those who have.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#345 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:27 PM


Is this the cost of doing business with dried fruit or am I doing something wrong.


It's the cost. Dried anything will try to get it's water back if given the opportunity. I've never infused with dried fruit so I'll leave the tips to those who have.


Yup, though if you're inclined to kitchen arts you could probably come up with a pretty good use for those boozy mangoes.

I can't be sure as I have little firsthand experience with mangoes but I have a hunch that part of the syrupy quality is probably actually pectin. Given enough time in the fridge it will precipitate out into a semisolid mass in the infusion, which is weird if not actually bad. Just a heads-up.
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#346 haresfur

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 02:10 AM

What is the benefit of letting the pineapple sit in the tequila rather than, saying pulverizing the pineapple with the tequila in a blender?

Pineapple upside-down cake! :smile:
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#347 Iheartnegronis

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:24 PM

I make one about once a month and have had great success until my latest one. I've made everything from Orange, lemon, falernum, cherry, blackberry and coffee liqueurs but I just tried making an apple brandy and it is NOT very good. I don't get it.

I tried two different VS Brandys and basically stuck a few slices worth of nice apples in there...waited about a month and it turned into a very odd and bitter flavor. It's the first one of the infusions that have failed. Usually it's pretty fool proof!

I'm curious if anyone has had any experience with creating apple or pear brandy spirits?

To try and contribute to the forum, the most simple approach to fun homemade infusions was to venture to your local tea/spice store and purchase herbal teas. I've done lemongrass vodka, hibiscus, rooibose and several other herbal teas and they work quite well. Just try a cold infusion for 24 hours and there ya go! The rooibose and blackberry vodka experiments made outstanding alterations to a boring lemon drop.



#348 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 10:08 PM

How much rooibos did you add to 750ml brandy?

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#349 Charcuterer

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:21 AM

I was cooking a recipe, braised pork with apples from the Bon Appetit magazine, a couple weeks ago that called for Calvados. Since I didn't have any Calvados I took some rum, it happened to be a sipping rum that I really don't care for, and threw in some apple chunks and vacuumed it. In about an hour it had picked up a ton of apple flavor and worked great in the recipe. The thing that surprised me is that the rum was much better that way. I decided that the next time I do it I'll add a small amount of cinnamon and try it slightly warm.

#350 Keith Orr

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:24 PM

I was fortunate enough to acquire five pounds of sloe fruit (prunus spinosa) in late September. There are a few patches of them naturalized in the Willamette Valley here in Western Oregon.

Scanning a few online recipes for homemade sloe gin, I did the following.

Combine in a large Cambro
2 - 1.75 bottles Seagrams Gin
4.5 cups evaporated cane sugar
5 lbs sloe fruit.

Stirred daily for two weeks and then weekly after that.

Some of the recipes I read called for adding a bit of almond extract. After I strained off the infusion, I added a1/2 tsp to 1/2 the batch. It added some depth without coming across as almond, so I added the same amount to the other half.

I've tucked away three bottles as it's supposed to improve with age. The rest is being consumed at a rapid rate, neat and in coctails.



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#351 Keith Orr

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:30 PM



If you slice the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and ribs, you can let it sit longer to no ill effect. I have a recipe for a jalapeno and cilantro infused tequila in my book for use as an oyster shooter with a splash of pineapple juice on top, or as a martini with a bit more pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice and shaken then served up. It's called Chihuahua tequila, the martini version is a Rabid Chihuahua. Posted Image


Thanks Katie! Tried it yesterday. Filled the jar with half cut jalapenos. Tasted it 3 hours in and it was perfect but could not believe it was done that quickly so let it infuse for a few more hours. Unfortunately now it's a little too spicy. Having some friends over to try it. Might mix 3/4 ounce of it with 4/3 ounce regular tequila and 5 ounces pineapple juice to make 2 cocktails. Will experiment and see how it goes.

For the rest of the bottle the plan is to make 1 or 2 cocktails like one I read about which mixes 2 ounces of tequila with 1 ounce of dolin blanc and pechauds and orange biiters. For the remainder I intend to go to trader joe's and look at their dried fruits selection and pick something from there to infuse it with. Current top contenders are dried strawberries or dried chili rubbed mangoes.


So with half of the bottle I tried infusing it with dried mangoes. I left it for a day and now I have a syrupy infusion that is 1/3 or 1/4 of the volume I put in and some alcoholic tasting plump mangoes. Is this the cost of doing business with dried fruit or am I doing something wrong. I didn't know there was going to be a substantial mangoes share? Any tips or thoughts? This could become very expensive if 3/4 of the liquor goes into the dried fruit.


I've made homemade apricot liqueur in the past using dried apricots reconstituted by covering them with boiling water and letting them plump up for a couple of hours and then draining off the water and proceeding as if you are using fresh fruit.

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#352 Iheartnegronis

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:35 PM

How much rooibos did you add to 750ml brandy?


I actually used Vodka for that infusion and I can't find my notes for it but I think I used about 1/8 cup? I just bought an ounce or two so I didn't use a lot. Pretty sure I made a half gallon as well.

I was cooking a recipe, braised pork with apples from the Bon Appetit magazine, a couple weeks ago that called for Calvados. Since I didn't have any Calvados I took some rum, it happened to be a sipping rum that I really don't care for, and threw in some apple chunks and vacuumed it. In about an hour it had picked up a ton of apple flavor and worked great in the recipe. The thing that surprised me is that the rum was much better that way. I decided that the next time I do it I'll add a small amount of cinnamon and try it slightly warm.


That's a good idea, I never thought of vacuum sealing!

The earlier infusion topic is here.


I knew there had to be one, thank you and I apologize for cluttering the forum.

#353 Iheartnegronis

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:38 PM

I was fortunate enough to acquire five pounds of sloe fruit (prunus spinosa) in late September. There are a few patches of them naturalized in the Willamette Valley here in Western Oregon.

Scanning a few online recipes for homemade sloe gin, I did the following.

Combine in a large Cambro
2 - 1.75 bottles Seagrams Gin
4.5 cups evaporated cane sugar
5 lbs sloe fruit.

Stirred daily for two weeks and then weekly after that.

Some of the recipes I read called for adding a bit of almond extract. After I strained off the infusion, I added a1/2 tsp to 1/2 the batch. It added some depth without coming across as almond, so I added the same amount to the other half.

I've tucked away three bottles as it's supposed to improve with age. The rest is being consumed at a rapid rate, neat and in coctails.



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That sounds awesome! I'm curious where you got it? I live in Portland but frequent the coast often and I'd love to try and make sloe Gin. I've only ever bought Plymouth and don't know of any other good Sloe Gin available in my area. I have a few good recipes though that call for it.

#354 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 06:55 PM

Here are some I started recently:

 

Lemon thyme and thyme:

006 (480x640).jpg

 

Kaffir lime:

011 (480x640).jpg

 

Walnut:

001 (480x640).jpg

 

It's traditionally made with green walnuts but there's no possibility of finding those around here. It works fine with dried ones too.

 

Rhubarb, orange and ginger:

001 (480x640).jpg

 

I made fruit liqueurs last year. Now I'm trying some other stuff. I made a lot of these little samples so I could experiment with different combinations and different alcohols, and with the amount of sugar. I'll make some of them into bitters and make larger quantities of the ones that work best as liqueurs.


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#355 olmoelisa

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 11:48 AM

I use to infuse Grappa. I'm northern Italian I inherited tons of recipes, the oldest from my great-grandmother Cecilia.
Vodka is too flavorless to infuse it.
And, when you infuse something, stay away from cheap liquors: use the best you can find or pure alcohol 90º.

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#356 Kent Wang

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 06:18 AM

What's the point of fruit infusions when you can just juice them instead? For example, a strawberry infusion is my absolute favorite, but why go through the trouble of infusing it when you can put the strawberries into a centrifugal juicer instead? (A blender and a strainer can also work)
 
The advantages of an infusion over just adding spirit to juice is that the spirit will remain fairly high in alcohol content, since it doesn't extract much water or sugar from the fruit, and because of this will have a fairly long shelf life.
 
But for most fruit infusions, you end up making a cocktail where you would want to put sugar back in and wouldn't mind some dilution either. If I wanted to make a big batch of a strawberry cocktail for a party, I would just juice the strawberries and add spirit. It'll probably taste fresher, too.
 
So the only remaining advantage of an infusion is the long shelf life.
 
But there are also disadvantages, aside from the time and effort, you also lose quite a bit of fruit and spirit through the process. If you try to eat an infused strawberry, it'll taste very boozy. I think most people just end up tossing those, but you can bake with them, make a boozy smoothie, or juice them, as I describe below:

 

I recently made Myer's rum infusions with raisins and dried apricots. I bought these at the Muslim market in Shanghai. Absolutely delicious. A lot of the sugar is leeched out so you have a fairly sweet infusion. All you need to do is serve it chilled (shaken, stirred, or on rocks), no need to add anything else. The infusions can be repeated a few times—i.e. you can pour out all the rum, then add in more rum. The infused raisins and apricots are also quite tasty on their own.

I've had a Philips HR1861 centrifugal juicer for a few months and that has been very useful for juicing and infusing. After I do a conventional infusion (say, pineapple), I can run the fruits through the juicer to extract more liquor (though this will be lower ABV as it will have more juice and plant matter). Then I take the pulp from the juicer and infuse it again. Since the pulp has massive surface area, after just a day or two the infusion is ready and I run it through the juicer again for more liquor. The remaining pulp I'll bake into cookies or cakes.

I'm like a Native American with a buffalo.

 
Of course this primarily applies to fruit infusions. Obviously, spice and tea need to be infused.

 

 



#357 bostonapothecary

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 08:16 AM

When making liqueurs I've had a lot of great success juicing then fortifying with spirits.  I think one reason juicing is not more popular is that people just don't have the tools.  I've worked in so many restaurants that don't own a juicer.  When I started juicing with the basket press and learning more about wine making for distillation one of the things I started to realize is that the options available make big differences in pectin content.  When you make wines to be distilled you want to limit pectin because it produces methanol when it breaks down.  Some times fruit infusions can dissolve a lot of pectin and I've made tequila por me amante in the past from super market strawberries that ended up pretty wobbly.  Too much pectin in whatever you are making is bad.

 

Lately I juice, then freeze concentrate, then sugar, then fortify.  Freeze concentrating helps when you only have 40% alcohol spirits to fortify with.  I usually only fortify to 20% which is more or less the minimum of preservation.


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#358 lesliec

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 12:17 AM

This isn't strictly speaking an infusion, but I don't think we have a 'distilling your own stuff' topic - possibly because it's illegal for most of the world.

 

But not my part of it.

 

So ... look what I made this afternoon:

 

Colonel Hawthorne's Gin.jpg

 

I've had a still for a couple of months now, but this was my first gin run.  For those who know about the technicalities, it's a StillSpirits T500 reflux still, which purists will tell you shouldn't be used for gin (reflux stills make extremely high-purity vodkas, which are then commonly flavoured and watered down to something sensibly below the 95% alcohol they can produce.  Yes, that does say 95%.  190 proof!).  However, I was determined to at least try, so I replaced some of the ceramic saddles in the column with a bag of botanicals and let it rip.

 

By 'de-tuning' the still like this I ended up with a mere 89% alcohol(!), which at the end of the process I took down to 40% with distilled water.  The botanicals I used were juniper berries (if it ain't got them, it ain't gin), coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, orris root, chamomile, liquorice root, angelica root, orange and lemon zest and dried kawakawa leaf, a New Zealand native.

 

The result - highly successful.  It's clear, it smells good, it tastes good.  I can't compare it to a commercial gin - I clearly haven't tried enough of them - but it's quite a strong, oily taste (not in a bad way).  I have yet to give it the ultimate test of using it in a G&T, but I'll report when I have (it will probably be tomorrow).

 

Oh yeah - who's this Colonel Hawthorne?  C'est moi - he's my steampunk alter ego.  Colonel Sir Julius Hawthorne, Her Majesty's Air Privateers (retired), since you ask ...


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#359 lesliec

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 06:51 PM

And an update to the above: on the basis that the sun must be over the yardarm somewhere in the world, we enjoyed a pre-lunch gin and tonic.

 

Rather good.  As Wifey described it, it's as though the bitters were already in there.  I know what she means.  It's quite a floral taste; I could maybe dial it back for a future run but it's really nice, particularly for a first attempt.

 

I've kept scrupulous records, so it should be reproducible.  Started a new ferment this morning ...


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#360 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 04:02 PM

So you are saying that home distillation of alcohol is legal in New Zealand? It sounds like you are having a lot of fun here - homemade vermouth and now home-distilled gin. Very jealous.