Gin Making Experience
The Gin Nest in Torquay, Devon
This is an amazing way for gin lovers to spend a few hours, watching the entire process in full flow. You will be involved in all stages of creating your very own gin using a copper pot still.
Tonics are included for tasting throughout the two-hour gin making experience, and you will take home your own bottle of gin (50cl).
During the experience you will learn:
- The History of Gin
- A Guide to Botanicals
- Styles of Gin
- Distillation Process
During the hands-on gin-making experience workshop, you’ll choose from a variety of floral and fruit botanicals to construct the unique flavour of your own gin. Our expert distiller will guide you through the gin making process, from start to finish. Naturally, including a gin tasting session at the end.
Just to put you in the mood here’s a bit of information about gin making before you arrive:
The History of Gin
Gin is a spirit that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From gin’s colour to its unique botanical mix, gin has always been equated with mystery and excitement.
In the late 1600s when gin first surfaced around London, it was known as ‘mother’s ruin’. Many people believed gin was a cure-all and gin consumption became increasingly popular, even amongst children.
Due to gin’s low price it soon became the drink of choice for ‘down and outs’, beggars and ‘ladies of negotiable affection’ – gin houses were often the scene of drunken brawls and naughty behaviour. By 1721 gin consumption had become so widespread that gin shops outnumbered the bakeries and the gin craze was challenged by politicians and moralists.
The gin addiction grew so large that Parliament instigated a ban on gin – hence gin became an attractive forbidden fruit – it was all the more desirable for being banned, and consumption rose even further.
Eventually, after much public unrest, it was legalised again with Acts of Parliament in 1736 and 1751. With more regulation, gin houses were forced to close down on Sundays and strength was limited to 54% abv.
Gin was produced legally in the UK until the 1886 Act of Parliament, some producers went underground or fled to other countries where gin making could be done with no restrictions. The craze was over and it was only consumed socially or for medicinal purposes.
Production didn’t begin again in the UK until the 1970s, and it is now a multi-million-pound business. In 1999 it became even more popular when Pimms launched its own brand gin with a twist of grapefruit – it has since been voted Britain’s most popular and is now available in a range of flavours.
The market has seen many new trends over the past few years, such as flavoured gins and mechanical bitters – there are now more than 300 brands on the market.
For more history come and join us in the Nest while you make your own gin. You don’t have to be a gin lover, but it helps, especially in your own gin tasting bit.
Gin making experience Botanicals
There are many gin making experience botanicals, juniper being the main one. However, there are a huge variety of flavour profiles due to the other ingredients involved in gin making. Some are: Angelica, Cubeb berries, Liquorice, Orris root, Wormwood and Coriander seeds.
Gin botanicals are the herbs, spices and roots used in distilling the spirit. The mix of selected juniper berries with these other ingredients determines the final style of gin. These ingredients are what gives each gin its unique taste profile. The gin distillation uses them to create gin by distilling gin botanicals in a pot still together with pure grain alcohol.
The most important of gin’s seven ingredients, juniper is also used in traditional medicine. It also gives gin its distinctive pine aroma and flavour.
Also known as “sweet root”, angelica has a strong flavour with a hint of celery.
The sweet yet earthy liquorice plant lends a distinctive black colour and flavour.
Give a spicy, citrus note. Fresh coriander is not used in gin-making. Instead, gin makers use the dried seeds to produce the gin’s flavour profile.
Orris root imparts a violet floral note to gin. Look for it tucked into clear bottles of gin next time you’re at a bar – if it’s there, you’ll notice a white gin.
Gin’s spicy character comes from cubeb berries, which are often paired with cinnamon and cloves to produce the flavour profile of choice.
While not one of the seven botanicals, wormwood is a popular cocktail addition. It’s often found in gin and tonic, adding a bitter/herbal flavour to the mix.
Time to have a go at creating your own bespoke gin? You know where we are and you’ll get a warm welcome!
Styles of Gin
There are a wide variety of styles:
London Dry Gin
London Dry is the most common style and it’s known for its dry, crisp flavour. A gin with a predominant juniper note is sometimes called ‘old tom’ because in times gone by gin used to be sold in large earthenware or ceramic containers resembling old tomcats.
Old Tom Gins
Old Tom was not necessarily weaker than London Dry, but too much sweetness made it unappealing to early fans.
By today’s standards, old tom would be as sweet as a modern Navy-style.
Navy Style Gins
Navy-style is sweeter than London Dry and is known for its use of citrus botanicals.
There are other gin styles which include:
Genever comes from Holland, Norway and Belgium. It’s a juniper-flavoured spirit similar to gin but not as dry.
In Scotland gin is called ‘wee gin’ and the gin-making ingredients are different from traditional gin.
The flavour of a modern Scottish gin comes from a number of botanicals including rose hips, heather flowers and sugar cane juice as well as juniper berries.
Kummel is a liqueur flavoured with caraway seeds and cumin (it’s not gin but it has gin-like characteristics).
A gin distilled with sloe berries. It has a sweet flavour profile due to the sugar that is added into gin making.
You know what we’re going to say now… pop along to the Nest and find out loads more.
Most gin is made by taking a neutral spirit and redistilling it with juniper, plus other botanicals. Traditionally it is distilled in a pot still, which we use in our gin making experience, but it can also be produced in a continuous distillation column called a Coffey still, named after the Irishman who invented them in 1834.
A still consists of an alembic and worm tub – this apparatus works just like the one that your Science teacher used to demonstrate distillation in class.
Leads from the alembic go into a worm tub. The liquid is then heated in the alembic until vapour rises up through the worm tub which contains gin-soaked materials, this vapour condenses back to liquid form and drips into a jar.
So what are you waiting for?
Pop in to the Nest and join one of our gin making experience to make your very own unique bottle of gin. The session lasts two hours including the essential tasting part.