There are two ways to make bathtub gin. The first way is from scratch by infusing it with juniper and the second way is to take an existing gin and infuse this with fruits to infuse your gin. We outline both of these as well as a rundown of what to use below.
You can download this guide in PDF here and be sure to check out the Gin Library and our gin themed experiences here.
HOW TO MAKE BATHTUB GIN:
You’ll need the following hardware:
Non-porous container (I used a 1L hinge-top bale jar)
Mesh bag/spice ball (optional)
Funnel and coffee filter/strainer
A kitchen scale is essential for this as proper proportions can make or break your DIY gin. I’d opt-in for a mesh spice bag or Britta filter to those used for nut milk to make filtering your gin a bit easier, but it’s up to you.
Per 1L of spirit- 20 g Juniper (20g will be X, the base for our gin)
X Juniper (20g)
X/2 Coriander (10g)
X/10 Weak Botanicals (2g each)
X/100 Strong botanicals (0.2g each)
Should you wish you can just make fruit-inspired gin (it is still bathtub gin after all) and go from there.
For our Bathtub Gin I use the following ingredients:
2.0g Angelica root
2.0g Liquorice root
2.0g Grains of paradise
2.0g Cubeb berries
2.0g Cracked cassia cinnamon
0.2g Orris root
0.1g Lemon peel
0.1g Orange peel
As you can see, we’re dealing with some mighty small measurements for subtle flavors here. Play around and see what you can omit or include in small batches. Be careful with citrus oils and cinnamon, as they can overwhelm a gin pretty quickly.
As a quick aside: if you’re dealing with a harsh or cheap spirit, or just want to make your spirit smoother, use the Brita pitcher trick. Brita pitchers filter water through activated carbon/charcoal, which happens to be how the major distillers of neutral spirits filter and purify their products (if they choose to do so). Just a few passes turns a vodka with a bit of burn into something amazingly smooth and indistinguishable from top-shelf liquors.
- Take your Juniper and put this with your vodka in your mason jar
- Let this sit for 24-48 hours. This step is to really solidify the juniper taste for your vodka by infusing it on its own
- Discard the juniper. Strain the liquid through a Britta filter. Your infusion should be a yellow / brownish tea color at this point
- Now you have some awesome homemade gin! Put your extra ingredients into the jar and close it up
- Let steep for 24 hours before retrieving and discarding your ingredients. Your gin should smell amazing, and be a similar or slightly darker brown than before
- Filter your gin through a fine mesh or coffee filter (or folded paper towels). Pour off into a container and enjoy!
Juniper and Coriander are the foundations to any gin, and give it that basic piney, citrus flavour.
FRUIT INFUSED GIN – HOW TO:
You can use the bathtub gin recipe above or you can cheat and use Tanqueray Gin as your base. When fruits are soaked in the gin, the alcohol absorbs their flavour to give a fruity taste and colour. Use ripe produce for the best quality and flavour and freeze the fruits until needed. Frozen fruit provides excellent results: the freezing process ruptures the fruit skins and allows the juices to flow out.
700ml bottle of gin
Tip the raspberries and sugar into a 1.5L sterilised jar. Pour over the gin, seal the jar and swirl around to dissolve the sugar
Add lemon peel (optional) if you wish to have a more lemon taste
Store in a cool, dark place and turn the jar once a day for the first week. After 2-3 weeks, strain the gin through a sieve
Note: The gin will keep its vibrant pink colour for a few months and will be drinkable for a year
700ml bottle of gin
400g punnet of strawberries, sliced
100g caster sugar
Mix the gin with the strawberries and caster sugar in a large bowl and pour into a mason jar
Store in the fridge and stir every two days for three weeks. Strain though a Britta filter to finish and pour back into a clean mason jar
1kg pink rhubarb stalks
400g caster sugar (don’t use golden – it muddies the colour)
Wash the rhubarb, trim the stalks and discard the base and any leaves. Cut the stalks into 3cm lengths
Put in a large jar with the sugar. Shake everything around, put the lid on and leave overnight. The sugar will draw the juice out of the rhubarb
After 24 hrs, add the gin, seal and shake everything around. Leave for about 4 weeks before drinking
You can strain through a Britta filter, or just leave the rhubarb and booze in the jar and ladle it into drinks that way. Over time the rhubarb and the gin go a much paler colour (so you can always replace with fresh rhubarb if desired)
6-8 freshly picked elderflower heads
1 strip lemon peel
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
Take the elderflower heads then put them into a large jar or jug\ Add the lemon peel, caster sugar and pour over the gin
Cover and leave to infuse for 24hrs
Strain through a Britta filter
Keeps for up to 1 month. Serve with tonic water, lots of ice and a dash of sugar syrup if you like
BOTANICALS AND FRUITS GUIDE – WHAT TO USE
OK, but what can I / should I infuse the gin with?
Juniper: The one, the only. The main component of gin, and one of the only spices derived from pine trees. The word Gin itself is derived from the word for juniper. Small, berry like, and resinous tasting/smelling. Goes well with wild game. There really is no substitute here. Rosemary can be used to accentuate it if other ingredients are substituted, but you can’t have a gin without juniper.
Coriander: The fruits of the coriander plant, which some people may know as cilantro. Called coriander seed most often. If you’re one of the unfortunate souls who can only taste soap when they eat cilantro/coriander leaves, you’re in luck! Coriander seeds do not have the offending compounds, but share all of the green, fresh, lemony flavors.
Angelica Root: Celery-like stalk, sweet and greenish smelling. Hard to find, but check online marketplaces like amazon, or health food shops. Decent substitutions would be the herb lovage, or root parsley. If you omit it, increase your other ingredients in proportion, adding a bit more coriander.
Liquorice Root: A root used to flavor the anise-flavored pastries, candies, and liquors you’ve probably encountered in your lifetime. Liquorice root has a natural sweetener that is long lasting. Avoid using too much or your gin may have a bitter tinge. Decent substitutions would be anise seed, star anise, and fennel (not as strong).
Cinnamon: The cinnamon flavor that’s recognizable in stores everywhere isn’t technically cinnamon at all, but a close relative called cassia! This adds some spiciness and sweetness to your gin, as well as playing a part in the aroma. Use stick cinnamon or cracked cinnamon- powdered would be far too potent, or it could be old and tasteless. It’s hard to tell unless you grind it yourself.
Grains of paradise: This spice from the ginger family was a substitute for pepper until trade routes opened up in ancient times, and then fell out of favor. Used in Sam Adams summer ale and other beers. Tastes like a less hot black pepper, mixed with the woody/resinous notes of cardamom. A decent substitute would be black pepper with a small amount of green cardamom.
Cubeb Berries: Another old-timey sub for black pepper. Spicy, slightly bitter, with some fruity notes. Uncommon, but you can find it online and from specialty spice merchants. Black pepper with a small amount of allspice would be a decent substitute.
Other potential botanicals to add:
Other types of cinnamon (Saigon, True, Indonesian), Cassia flower buds, Black pepper, long pepper, ginger, or even chilies. Bitter almonds (Though they may be hard to find)
Note; use sparingly, they add some of the most interesting notes to your gin. Too much, and you risk overwhelming the taste- these flavors are strong.
Lemon: Citrus botanicals tend to be filled with high(er) volatile compounds. This means they present themselves at their most intense at the beginning of a flavour journey and then tend to reduce in concentration thereafter, allowing for other botanicals (like spice, herbs or nuts) to merge in and then overtake them. Consider them the first impression of a gin – the ones at the beginning of the drinker’s journey – and know that they are the initing hook.
Both dried and fresh lemons are used to create a three dimensional citrus effect. The fresh peels give the distillate a distinct, tart edge to both aroma and initial taste. The volatile nature of the compounds is clear on the aroma, with lemon distillate ready to lift the fore of any gin and add some levity to begin the flavour journey with a capricious bang.
Meanwhile the dried peels allow for a more sherbet-like, juicy tone to emerge on the palate, helping the flavour to appear smoother and to endure long after the initial impact.
Orange: This provides both a bright, zesty orange hit to the aroma as well as the rich, softer texture of actual orange segments to the mouthfeel. Using the vacuum to full effect during distillation, we deliberately distil at much lower temperatures, maintaining the bright nature of the fruit and avoiding it becoming either candied or caramelised.
Orange is an ideal citrus for those looking to make classically styled gin profiles, as it combines particularly well with juniper and cassia bark for a warming flavour that allows the emphasis to gradually build into juniper without being too “loud” up front.
Grapefruit: Bright, zesty and bursting out of the glass, only fresh pink grapefruits are used in the distillation, which is performed at deliberately lower temperatures to maintain maximum freshness.
There’s a hit of caustic, zesty citrus on the aroma, while the palate is brought to life as if it’s been hit with a defibrillator at full charge, with a volley of sharp yet fleshy grapefruit notes hitting it as fast as they can. The effect is short and intense, leaving behind a lingering fresh sensation that makes it a perfect distillate to blend with when you need distinct flavour peak to begin with, but want it to fade rapidly to allow for the next botanical (in particular florals) in the journey to rise to prominence.
Yuzu (fresh peels): Sharp and tangy, Yuzu is as mercurial as it delicious. The highly sought after and increasingly rare eastern citrus is reminiscent of mandarin (but not as caustic) and as as juicy as an orange (yet not as soft) while being entirely different to grapefruit, yet managing to have a similarly domineering first impression.
Blend Yuzu carefully as it wants to take centre stage, but when used in the perfect dose it adds a touch of exoticism to the front end of a gin that’s unparalleled.
Apricots: Warm, voluptuous and deep citrus tones are in abundance in this distillate. We distil the fruit hotter than usual, allowing for the patisserie-like caramelised tones of apricots (both dried and fresh) to emerge.
The flavours are unctuous in the way they envelop the mouth, while the soft nature of the flesh makes it the perfect side note to accompany juniper. Apricot lands a little later in the flavour journey than lemon, grapefruit or orange and is subtler in the way it combines with other botanicals, too. When blended with other distillates, Apricot can help thicken and add tonal qualities to the mouthfeel.
Blueberries: Blueberries have mischievous flavour qualities; sometimes there are so faint they are a but a brief burst of juice, while other times they are tart and citrus like, or have notes that are more akin to apples. That ‘something in-between’ is where we have focused our attention, amalgamating multiple batches of distilled blueberries to ensure the broad yet subtle spectrum of the super fruit is captured.
Cranberries: Acerbic at first, with a jammy texture that develops in time, the taste of BYO Cranberry distillate deliberately oscillates between the fresh, crisp fruit and the more caramelised versions found in jams and chutneys.
Cranberry is a brilliant distillate to use for those looking to broaden the middle of the flavour journey with a rich fruity tone, especially when used in conjunction with rosemary and juniper, with the trio conspiring to become a much greater being than the sum of their parts should allow.
Raspberries: ich, sweet and jammy, we’ve distilled raspberries both air-dried and fresh to extract the full character of the fruit. More typically used as an infusion, once distilled, the more candied, jam-like elements of raspberries emerge.
Rhubarb: We wanted to showcase the raw ingredient in distillate form, so we pressed the rhubarb into juice and distilled it at both at low and high temperatures to create a tangy, vivid distillate. Clear, raw rhubarb notes merge with the ruby rich texture of stewed fruit. Slight orangey notes follow, alongside a green garden freshness.
That blend of processes means there is none of the candied, synthetic flavours you’ll find in some of the mass-market essences. This distillate is the real McCoy, and an ideal way to add jammy yet stalky fruit tones to the centre of your flavour journey.
Florals can add a uniquely complex dimension to a gin. A touch of levity, a counter point to the herbal core or an accomplice to either citrus on the fore, or spice on the finish – florals are as intricate as they adaptable.
Orris Root: Root of a particular species of iris, aged and dried. Smells like potpourri, used to make pomander balls, and has been used as a way to make fragrances long lasting in the perfume industry. Think of it as the binder for all the aromatics in your gin. Substitute violet petals, something else floral in character like rose petals, or just omit.
Soft and light, there are almost buttery tones are in abundance here. To taste, the calming floral tones so familiar in chamomile tea are present, but so too is the fresher almost green tinge of the fresh herb.
The sweet, full mouthfeel is the lesser spoken about asset of the botanical. Chamomile is, in fact, an ideal distillate for those looking to build an added texture to their creation without resorting to the bulky sweetness of honey or liquorice root.
Elderflower: Sweet sunshine in a glass, the elderflower distillate has captured the entirety of the flower. From the soft, hay-like tones of dried elderflower, to a sickly sweet perfumed edge, reminiscent of a mid-summer’s evening in the garden when the flowers almost seem to drip their full fragrance into the air.
To ensure it combines well with other distillates, we’ve erred on the side of fresh and bright as opposed to sweet and sticky, as doing so allows the user the choice for the botanical to be the backdrop or the star protagonist of their creation.
Rose: Distinct as an aroma and lightly perfumed, BYO Rose Distillate provides as alluring a top note as you’d expect from the queen flowers. Air-dried rose petals are distilled in deliberately colder temperatures than usual in order to maximise the intensity and maintain an authentic, fresher and less perfumed aroma.
Other than providing a big bouquet on the nose, rather strangely – the rose distillate can also be used in tandem with spices such as cubeb or cardamom to provide a floral dimension to the finish of a gin too.
Lavender: Garden fresh and with a lovely levity on the aroma, we’ve ensured that the distillate remains authentic to the plant, thus avoiding any soapy connotations. To taste, the floral overtones lead, but the plant’s herbal, almost balsamic qualities underpin the flavour journey throughout.
As an ingredient, lavender is perfectly offset by the likes of rosemary and grapefruit, and is used in that combination to brilliant effect in both existing gins on the market (and by adventurous G&T drinkers who look to those specific pairings for garnishing).
Wildflower Honey: Soft, dried hay and sugar-coated marigold flowers lead the aroma. To taste, a rich texture envelops the mouth, with honeyed sweetness and a luscious consistency.
Once distilled, honey no longer has the viscosity of its raw state, though the sweet, waxy elements are just as clear to taste. In this particular distillate, the delicate florals of the nose are a little more nuanced on the palate, with that raw honey taste leading the experience.
Basil: Savoury green notes and peppery notes aplenty, basil adds both depth and an anchor to many flavour experiences. We’ve distilled it in two ways, fresh and hot and steeped in for weeks of infusion then distilled cold to get two clear notes from the leaves.
The first provides a damp, deep herbal taste that lands late in the sensory experience but endures into the finish – the other, allows for the fresh savoury and almost peppery aroma to appear. Together, they combine to be a full, luscious representation of the herb.
Rosemary: Fragrantly fresh aroma and a verdant note that stirs the senses, Rosemary also adds a savoury tone that’s un-paralleled when looking to make a full, almost Mediterranean style profile. It also works particularly well at countering the like of lavender to ensure the floral elements are kept in check.
Rosemary can also be used in very small amount to help juniper re-emerge as a district taste and in doing so, while not evident in it’s own right, rosemary can be used in an augmentative role.
Lemon Thyme: Lemony aroma with a backdrop of deep savoury thyme, this hybrid herb showcases exactly what’s brilliant about the herbal category – multifaceted, multidimensional and which reveals itself in very distinct ways at multiple times during a flavour journey.
Lemon thyme has an inviting smell, one that’s reminiscent of Sunday roasts and warming afternoons in the south of France. To taste, the deeper tones of thyme come to the fore and the green tinge is more apparent. This dual quality allows the distillate to be used in numerous ways and allows the blender options to replace citrus with it, or use it in tandem.
Lapsang Suchong: Evocative of the embers of a bonfire on a dark night, where the air is filled with the smoke of a fire that’s no longer ablaze, Lapsang distillate is profoundly transportive as a flavour experience.
Lapsang needs to be used cautiously in a blend, as it will overwhelm everything when given even half a chance. Used carefully however, the smoky tones can provide a sensory layer to the finish that can alter a journey, tipping it from pedestrian to sublime in a few drops.
Earl Grey Tea: As expected from this specific blend, bergamot drives the front of the flavour journey, while black tea leaves add a depth to the distillate. The tannic qualities of the leaf are not in abundance, but they provide a clear lingering sensation that endures in a long finish.
Nuts and roots can be used in numerous ways when building a gin or a custom blend. Some add sweetness, others add fullness to the mouthfeel and some bring length to the finish.
Almond: Slight marzipan tones emerge on the nose, while a sweet, nutty profile develops to taste. Almond distillate is good to add length to the finish, as well as texture and fullness to the mouthfeel. Rich and sweet, it’s a great addition to gin, bringing great depth.
Angelica Root: The third most common botanical in gin production, angelica is rarely the star of the show. Understandably too, as it’s profile – earthy, rooty and reminiscent of bitter wormwood – hasn’t got much appeal in it’s own right. Used as a backdrop, though, angelica root provides a bridge, a base, added depth and a platform for other botanicals to shine, in particular juniper. With many shared compounds, angelica acts as a support to juniper and coriander seed and is essential as an ingredient when looking to build the core of a gin.
Liquorice Root: It is worth noting that as a botanicals, liquorice root is nothing like anise. More over, it is absolutely nothing like the liquorice taste of Liquorice All Sorts. It is a sweet, barky root that when chewed into, has a sugar cane quality, mixed with an earthy root like exterior.
For centuries, Liquorice root is the predominant sweetener used in gin production. It adds sugary qualities to a gin, and brings in a silky viscosity to the flavour.
Nutmeg: Fragrant in it’s aroma and intoxicatingly warming, Nutmeg is a useful botanical, not just to add a distinct sweet spice on the finish but also to add an otherwise impossible length, too.
Nutmeg is mercurial, changing to suit the botanicals it is paired with. When used in a classic gin ensemble it adds a prolonged heat to the finish, but when used in tandem with apricots it can appear more soothing than fiery.
Tonka: Very similar to vanilla, Tonka’s ephemeral mystique delivers layer after layer of flavour like no other. There’s a pronounced silky edge both on the nose and to taste, but the sweeter, nutty tones are more apparent on the nose, while the vanilla-like, gourmand elements emerge more to taste.
As a base note to unpin proceedings, Tonka brings an exotic touch, but when used as a central accompaniment to the likes of juniper, delivers an impossible to place multi-dimensional aura that’ll have you recounting memories and imagining ingredients that are not actually there.
Every flavour journey needs an anchor. Whether perfume, gin or other mad cap botanical creation, all need an element that affords them a base from which the other botanicals can shine. Spiced botanicals are not just the end point of a journey and they are not just heat, they are the often hidden ‘off note’ which keeps the the other flavours in line. They underpin proceedings and prevent them from being one dimensional, and also add great length to the finish.
Caraway: The mentholic spice of caraway seed is well known, but when used carefully (without allowing it to bring it’s own distinct profile to proceedings in a hugely discernible way) it can dramatically freshen the finish of a gin, and can be the perfect companion to juniper for those looking to accentuate the forest-like tones of gin’s star ingredient.
Green Cardamom: Big, curried notes waft with immediate effect towards the nose, while softer, almost dessert-like notes are apparent on the palate. The eucalyptus qualities of the pod add a verdant twang to the distillate, ensure that the fiery nature of the seeds play second fiddle to their intensity.
Cassia: Cassia, also known as Chinese cinnamon, has a warming, earthy aroma and a taste that is warm and slightly sweet at first, before progressing to burning fire as it grows in stature.
Cassia is more like the “cinnamon” you find in coffee shops and in super markets (usually because it’s actually cassia under a different name), and the bark is much closer to the idealised version of cinnamon than cinnamon bark itself, which is more woody and spiced in nature
Cloves: Cloves have a sweet, warm flavour, and are intensely aromatic as an ingredient, which is reflected in the distillate, which can be overpowering in even the smallest amounts (translation: use sparingly).
As a spice, it leaves a lingering sensation similar to that of nutmeg, and when used in conjunction can create spectacular finishes to spirits.
Coriander Seed: Coriander seed plays an important role in any gin; it not only provides a slight nutty spice to proceedings, but it also add a huge dose of lemony citrus toward the mid to finish of a flavour journey.
It brings enormous length and warmth, and also has the power to grab that leading citrus taste by the hand and drag it right to the end of the sip.
Cubeb: A cousin of black pepper, cubeb has the same spiced nature without the piquancy. Instead, a violet-like floral tone emerges, bringing with it a complex, flowery back note and a cracked black spice finish that is both multifaceted and almost impossible to place.
Moroccan souk meets the feint remanence of a countryside apothecary – cubeb distillate is magic in a glass.
Pink Peppercorn: Unique amongst spices, few can claim the pungent swagger of pink peppercorn while also having such a delicate floral touch and a nature that evokes a sense of gourmandise.
Sappy and fiery, pungent and light, pink peppercorns bring a certain amount of levity to proceedings, as though the spice were dancing along the top of the glass, rather than buries deep within.