How gin is made at our distillery
Share
May 14 2020 / James Thompson

What Is Gin Made From?

To understand how gin is made and what ingredients are used to make gin, we must first look at gin’s main components.

It can be tricky to give a definitive answer to how gin is made, just because of the sheer diversity of the gin industry. No two gins are completely alike and they’re made from many different ingredients.

One thing is universal: all gins start life as a neutral spirit. You can make this neutral spirit from grain, wheat, barley or even rice, grapes, corn or beetroot. Whichever you choose to distill gin from, you get a base spirit with different characteristics that impact the end product. So your choice of key gin ingredient matters.

Of course, flavoured gins, gin liqueurs and sloe gins are all made differently! We’ll go into more detail about that later.

Visit the Sing Gin shop

 

A short history of gin and its country of origin

How gin was invented

There’s evidence gin – or a variation of what we drink today at least – was around as early as 70AD. Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides used a mixture of juniper and wine as a remedy for the sniffles! We’ve also heard tales of Italian monks who drank a juniper based liquid similar to gin. Whether that was for utility or leisure, we’ll probably never know.

The gin we drink today with tonic first appeared in the form of a Dutch spirit called jenever. Named after the French word for juniper, this rather crude distillate was used as a medicinal drink. It was later adopted by the English, who sipped gin before going into battle in the Eighty Years War – and so the term ‘Dutch courage’ was born!

Gin became increasingly popular here in the UK as the gin craze swept society – giving rise to the dubious nickname ‘Mother’s Ruin’.

The Old Tom style gin was predominant in the 18th Century. This sweeter type of gin was created when gin makers would add sweeteners to disguise the taste of cheap and nasty spirits.

The fashionable gin and tonic cocktail later made its way to the US, where Prohibition only served to increase its popularity. And the rest, as they say, is history.

 

How is gin made? A step by step overview

Inside the world of gin making

  • As we’ve already mentioned, all gins start with a natural base. Most often a grain like wheat or barley is used, but some gin makers start with potatoes or grapes.
  • Unlike grains, grapes contain sugar in their DNA, so no enzymes need to be added to sweeten the gin. If we were to make gin from grain, we would need to undergo a process called saccharification.
  • Yeast is added to the sugar mixture, breaking it down into alcohol (ethanol) and carbon dioxide.
  • The base is then distilled to create a neutral spirit. During distillation the liquid mixture is separated through boiling and condensation. There are three main stages to distillation. The first liquid to leave the still is known as the ‘head’. This is followed by the highest quality part of the liquid known as the ‘heart’. The final part is known as the feint or ‘tails’.
  • Next, we repeat the distillation process to create a cleaner and purer solution. Now we have the neutral spirit.
  • And so the real art of gin making begins! The alcohol has de-ionised water added and is put into our stainless steel and copper still Bella (named after our first family dog), along with the botanicals that make up Sing Gin. Having our very own distillery in the Yorkshire Dales village of Kettlesing means we control every nuance of our gin-making, from hand crushing our blend of seven botanicals through to the bottling process.
  • Sing Gin’s botanicals are left to steep overnight for a wonderfully full-flavoured gin.
  • In the morning, the mix goes into what we call ‘The Thumper’, where the liquid is cleaned and excess water removed.
  • Next, the liquid goes into a condenser where the vapour becomes a beautiful gin.

 

Is gin made in the same way as vodka?

The answer to that is sort of. They are made in a similar way. The only difference is that gin is flavoured with botanicals, vodka isn’t. Vodka is distilled and then bottled. Gin is distilled, rectified with botanicals (to give it flavour), and then bottled.

To add to the confusion, people have been known to mix vodka with a concoction of plants, herbs or spices and leave it to infuse – essentially making gin from vodka.

Gin is a lot more diverse and complicated than vodka. Take it from us, we’ve spent a long time perfecting Sing Gin!

 

How is flavoured gin made?

Flavoured gins are made differently. A lot of bottles masquerading as flavoured gins should actually be classed as gin liqueurs because of their high sugar content, low alcoholic volume and lack of juniper!

The pink gins that have become popular again today are reminiscent of a popular cocktail from long ago: gin with a drop of Angostura bitter, which created a rose tint. These days, most pink gins get their colour and flavour from rose petals.

Most flavoured gins use sugar and artificial flavours to get the desired taste.

 

What grain is gin usually made from?

Typically, gin is made from grains like wheat, barley, corn or rye.

Sing Gin isn’t your typical gin though. We start with grapes.

 

Why is Sing Gin made from grape?

Read our blog post all about why Sing Gin is a beautiful gin made from grapes.

 

Shop now

Subscribe to our newsletter to get exclusive discounts and keep up to date with what’s going on at Sing Gin HQ. While you’re at it, make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Next time you’re sipping a Sing Gin, upload a picture of your G&T or gin cocktail recipe and tag us! We feature the best customer photos in our Sing Gin Sippers highlight reel on Instagram.

 

Pin this

 

How is gin made? A Sing Gin guide