Today there are hundreds of boutique gins on the market. By legal definition the one thing that all gins have in common is they must contain Juniper. Otherwise each gin has its own secret recipe and an ever wider range of botanicals are being used to create boutique gins often with a link to plants or herbs specific to the local countryside where they are produced.
Gin started life as a medicine and nearly all gins are a mix of 3 flavour groups. Juniper; a mix of exotic spices and pepper corns from Africa and the orient; powdered roots of plants widely used in herbal remedies across Europe, mixed with citrus peel and nuts. The alchemy comes from the precise amount of each botanical and how this changes the flavour of the resultant gin.
Each Gin producer mixes a selection of these botanicals to their own recipe, but at Birkdale Craft Distillery we don’t think that our taste is any better than yours - everyone’s taste is individual. Rather than dictate the mix of botanicals, we wanted to give you the opportunity to blend them and discover your own special and unique gin formulation.
We use vapour distillation to distil each flavour group separately and present them to you in 3 separate bottles. You do not drink the contents of any one bottle by itself – that’s not gin. A mix of the contents from all 3 bottles is a gin - BUT - you have the choice of how much of each bottle to add to blend your own personalised and Unique gin.
The starting point is equal measure, so 1 part Flavour group 1 (Juniper spirit) to 1 part Flavour group 2 (African & oriental spice spirit) to 1 part Flavour group 3 (Citrus, nuts & roots spirit).
Coriander, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, cardamon pods, cinnnamon, nutmeg, mace.
Orange peel, lemon peel, almonds, angelica root, liquorice root, orris root, ginger root
Then you start experimenting:- If you really like Juniper try 1 ½ or 2 parts of Flavour group 1. If you prefer spices, then add more Flavour group 2. If you citrus and herbs are more your taste, then more of Flavour group 3.
The differences are quite surprising. Personally, we find that if you make a blend, drink it and then make another blend, you can tell it is different, but we cannot remember quite where and why (perhaps that tells more about us than anything else).
We find it’s works better as a party mix – get a group of friends together and make up a series of different blends and taste them side by side – then what seems subtle is actually very different flavours (when we tried this at the test marketing event, arguments got quite heated over who had the better blend – there is no such thing, just your own personal favourite).
For mixers, just treat it like any other gin, so your favourite tonic is a starting point.
We hope you enjoy discovering your own Unique Gin recipe formulation.
Birkdale Craft Distillery
Gin is a mix of plant flavours and oils extracted from a range of botanicals using alcohol. Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch physician is credited by some parties with the invention of gin in the early 17th Century, although it is possible that an earlier version was made in Italy.
At that time, herbal tinctures were a mainstay of medicine and a rich European tradition existed using herbs, roots and flowers as remedies. They had discovered that soaking these botanicals in alcohol improved their potency, as the hydrophobic essential oils and complex biological compounds would not dissolve in water, but would dissolve in ethanol and become bioavailable when administered.
At this time in history, the Dutch controlled the spice trade from Africa and the Orient and exotic spices, such as anise, caraway, coriander, cardamom, Grains of paradise and Cubeb berries (forms of pepper) and others, were added to the existing herbal remedies and sold in pharmacies to treat such ailments as kidney stones, stomach problems, gout and gallstones. They were not always pleasant and Franciscus Sylvius is credited with the addition of Juniper berries to make them more palatable. It is now a definition that to be called, gin, the drink must contain Juniper and the English word Gin is derived from the Dutch or French word for Juniper (Jeneva or genièvre).
The English fondness for gin started during the 30 year’s war where English soldiers were fighting alongside the Dutch as the Netherlands resisted attempts by the Spanish Hapsburgs to extend the dominion of the Spanish Netherlands and re-conquer the northern territories of the Dutch Republic, which had seceded earlier from the Hapsburgs possessions. As well as gaining a taste for this spirit, they noticed that the Dutch soldiers carried small bottles of gin into battle and were more relaxed – giving us the term “Dutch Courage”.
At the end of the wars, the English brought their enthusiasm for this new drink back to Britain and its boom period arrived with the Glorious Revolution and the rule of William III and Mary II. William was better known as William of Orange and his family had been Stadtholders or rulers of the Dutch Republic for generations. He brought changes in law that relaxed the distillation of spirits. This created a boom, with thousands of Gin shops opening with an alarming drop in quality and also adulteration with spirits such as Turpentine to avoid the cost of Juniper berries. The low price led to popularity among the poor, leading to the phrase “Mother’s Ruin”.
In 1736, The Gin Act changed the licencing costs and made production prohibitively expensive, resulting in riots and a general ignoring of the regulations. It was repealed as unenforceable in 1742 and a balance reached between licence costs and pricing to make gin respectable and avoid the excesses seen previously. Reforms continued and over time Gin production and the efficiency of the stills improved to produce a more refined product. A delicate balance of more subtle flavours led to its ascent into high society and by the 1920’s was a cornerstone of the cocktail craze.
Gin, whilst never falling out of popularity did see a decline in image as vodka became the fashion in the 90’s and early 20’s. Today gin is seeing a renaissance as the complexity of flavours are realised by a wider audience. London’ dry style still dominates commercially, but the ever expanding range of boutique gins are redefining the sector and the choice available. There is even examples of the original Dutch style, which used malted wine instead of grain spirit, which when cask conditioned would be similar to a type of herbal whisky.
Birkdale Craft distillery is proud to be part of this new movement.
We hope you enjoy Blend you own Unique Gin as well as Birkdale Gin, which is a pre-mixed blend as chosen at a tasting with residents of Birkdale Village.