Distilling Gin and the Importance of Choosing a Base
Gin can be described as flavored vodka. It can't be called "gin" unless it's made with juniper berries, but the floral, fruity, citrus and botanical notes added work well as a cocktail base. However, the base of gin is a mixture of fermented materials. Before hitting the shelves for purchase, it will take part in at least two distillations. Distilled in column stills, after the first round gin is high-proof with a clean, light taste. Bringing in a depth of flavor requires the addition of botanicals and juniper berries. It's added one of two ways: soaking them in the liquid or by suspending them over the still. The latter is reserved for top-shelf, high-end gin formulating a more complex product.
The Importance of Choosing Your Base
Gin rose in popularity in England in the late 1800s. The government passed a law allowing individuals to produce the spirit without the need for a license. Times have changed, and so have the rules, but the importance of choosing the right base remains. Craft distillers are popping up in every sector of the adult beverage industry including gin. These craft distillers are bringing back the attention to choosing a base that is as essential to the final product as the distillation process. The concept is based around the idea of getting a natural canvas to develop a unique product that will resonate with consumers in a way that it hasn't in a long time.
Using Grains in Your Spirit
Numerous grains, fruits, and sweeteners are available to help distillers make the most out of their product. Each one lends itself to a unique flavor profile.
The most commonly used base in the UK is wheat. Producers who want to highlight the pure, natural flavors of their product would choose wheat. It's a clean base that will let aromas and characters take center stage. It's especially good for anyone who wants to use local ingredients as it is widely available.
State-side, corn is wheat's biggest contender. It's grown in many areas across the country and overhead is cheap. The use of corn provides distillers with a similar blank canvas as wheat because it doesn't overshadow any of the flavorings. Consider using corn if you want to produce a spirit with spice or other bold profiles.
Malt and Unmalted Barley
The addition of barely changes the flavor and texture. The unmalted grain is known for giving a smooth, silky texture. Hints of vanilla and citrus are found throughout. Unmalted barely pairs with products that are complementary to get the most out of the Malted; on the other hand, has a bread-like taste.
Adding sweetness to your spirit is done by using rye as a base. Use rye if you have an interest in changing the texture. It produces an indulgent product with a slightly thicker consistency.
Much like wheat and barley, oats are used to preserve the authentic flavors of the spirit. It yields a soft, creamy texture that is unlike to the oat grain. Something you can't find when you are using wheat and barley. Choose oats when you want to highlight floral or botanical notes.
Synonymous with Asian drinks like rice wine or beer, you can use rice as a base for spirits, but it's not that common. Donner-Peltier Distillers use rice as a base for a fruity character. But, their gin is one of the few spirits on the market you'll find with a rice base.
Fruit Bases for Distilling Spirits
Succulent and juicy is what you get when you incorporate grapes into the production of your adult beverage. Distillers located near wineries use grapes because of its availability. Grapes help the drink fill the mouth.
Commonly associated with ciders but apples add depth unlike other fruits to the spirit. What you are left with is a product that has complexity. Tasters often describe it as fresh and tarty.
Arguably one of the more experimental bases on the list, Kirsch shouldn't be dismissed because it has a lot of potential in lifting your spirit to the next level. The cherry flavor sways between tart and sweet effortlessly giving drinkers a unique experience. Make the most out of kirsch by adding it with other botanical notes.
Sweetener Bases for Creating Spirits
Wheat isn't the only accessible product on the list. If you want to forgo the grain and opt for something that lifts floral notes, molasses is a clear winner. It's both sweet and viscous in the mouth.
Rich flavor and texture are produced by using distilled mead. Mead is honey fermented and has been used as an alcohol base for centuries. Balancing the final results is a little difficult. What it does to the flavor profile varies based on the ABV and the other raw materials used.
Agave is used by distillers like Pierde Almas and State-38 Distilling. Despite the natural sweetness of agave, the appearance of it in a spirit leans towards a salty taste. Sometimes it can be used to exhibit a smokey flavor.
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