I’ve made my own flavoured (sloe) gin and vodka before, even had a go at wine once, but this really was on another level. Distilling my very own gin, with Master Distiller, Jamie Baxter at the 45 Gin School. The very same place, that they make the now famous Burleighs London Dry Gin.
I arrived with my fellow Nottingham Blogger Penny from A Residence (if you follow that link you can see her fab video of the event) to the Leicestershire distillery. We were both eager to find out more about the process of gin distilling, and having a go at making our very own gin. Even though I was being joined by a group of fellow bloggers you can in fact book this gin experience yourself, details of which is on the website. It would make a great gift for a gin lover, and is also used for groups and individuals who want to learn more about the art of gin distilling!
Now as part of the Gin School, we not only got to make our own gin, but we were also given an insight into the history of the gin making process. With tales of gin palaces, bath tub gin, mothers ruin and gin riots, it has a very colourful past and one that is fascinating to learn more about.
As 45 Gin School is a working distillery, you are also given a unique insight into the world of a master distiller and his work. Jamie talked fondly of his decision to produce craft distilled gin in the 450 litre copper pot still he has since named Messy Bessy. It reminded me of one of those old vintage brass diving helmets, it added a real stem punk edge to the room! Bessy is hand crafted in Germany and really takes pride of place, looking majestic in her shining glory.
We were shown everything about the process, including what botanicals are added into Burleighs London Dry Gin, not the quantities of course, as that’s top-secret! Botanicals really are the key to the favour of a gin, and also how it retains that flavour. Orris (Iris root) for example is used not only for its flowery perfume notes in Gin, it’s also used as a fixative for the other flavours.
When being directed on how our gin should taste, we were told that ‘Juniper shall be the predominant flavour‘ this is actually a legal requirement, in order for it to be classed as gin. Also that modern tasting gin producers, use less of the juniper berries in their recipes. Juniper gives a pine like taste to a gin, but you also need to use other botanicals (usually between 4 -11) to add other citrus, spice and floral notes too.
We were then guided on how to weigh and create each of our gins. Some people went more maverick with their botanical decisions, whilst others relied on the expert guidance of our distiller.
It was then we emptied our chosen botanicals into the hand-crafted Portuguese pot stills, made from copper for a smoother flavour. This was then set to temperature, and we waiting patiently (with the aid of a Burleighs gin & tonic) whilst our creation bubbled away. I couldn’t resist giving it a taste once it first came through, and was a little taken aback at the strength, completely forgetting we had to then water the infusion down with water.
We even labelled and got to name our gin, sealing it to take home. I know I was talked through the process, but I couldn’t help feeling proud!
Now, I have sampled my gin and it is goooood! Because I’m feeling generous, I’m going to share my floral gin recipe with you. I went for a floral flavoured gin, which I really do think comes across in the final product.
Huge thanks to 45 Gin School, I had great evening, learnt so much, met some lovely new bloggers, and got reacquainted with some old ones too.