How Is Non Alcoholic Gin Made? The complete review


Copper pot gin distillery

Non alcoholic and alcohol free gin sales are rising dramatically. Nearly every big distiller now has an alcohol free version and many bespoke non alcoholic distillers are setting up like Seedlip and Clean Co.

The purpose is to create a gin that resembles or matches a traditional alcoholic gin but without the alcohol. “How do they do that?” i hear you ask. It does sound like witchcraft but there is method to the madness.

In general, non alcoholic gin is made in the same way as traditional gin. Botanicals are macerated in a 96% ABV neutral alcohol or the alcohol is infused through them in a vapour. Over multiple rounds of distillation the alcohol is removed leaving just the botanical flavours and aromatic compounds in water.

That sounds easy right? But how exactly is is done and why are some methods better than others?

How is alcoholic gin made?

Does Non Alcoholic Beer Taste The S...
Does Non Alcoholic Beer Taste The Same

To make a non alcoholic gin you carry out the same process to make an alcoholic one but with a few extra steps. So it is beneficial to see how an alcoholic gin is made.

There are 3 main methods to make an alcoholic gin, namely…

  • Maceration
  • Vapour infusion
  • Steeping without distillation

Let’s look at each individual one in turn.

1. Maceration

Maceration is defined as the softening and breaking down of skin resulting from prolonged exposure to moisture, in this case, alcohol.

First of all you need a song alcohol as a base. Ideally you don’t want this to have any strong flavours as you want all the flavour coming from the botanicals you choose.

This neutral alcohol base is usually in the form of a distilled grain such as wheat. It is distilled to obtain a nearly pure alcohol

You can then add all the gin botanicals into a still containing the alcohol to macerate for however long you want. This could be a few hours to a few days.

You can put the botanicals in whole, chop them up or even powder them. Doing each of these will dramatically alter the flavour and concentration in the final gin.

It is worth noting that for any given botanical the flavour might not be the same throughout it. Say you have a seed, if you put it in whole, the alcohol macerates the outside and gives flavour from there. If you powder it you get flavours from the inside which might have a hugely different flavour profile which may not be pleasant.

When you have macerated enough, the copper still is heated. The alcohol and compounds extracted from the botanicals will carry over as vapour into a condenser, which simply cools the gas down, back into a liquid.

You end up with a concentrated aromatic gin which you can dilute and add more neutral alcohol to until it is at the desired ABV %.

What gin botanicals could be added?

The list of what botanical aromatics could be added to a gin is long. One ingredient must be there and the dominant flavour or you can’t call your product a gin, namely juniper. Some of the many others are…

  • juniper
  • coriander
  • citrus peels
  • angelica root
  • orris root
  • cardamom
  • cassia

2. Vapour Infusion

An alternate method to steeping the botanicals in the alcohol itself is to suspend them in a container above it.

The alcohol is heated, it evaporates and passes through the botanicals, picking up their flavour. It then condenses to a liquid again with the aromatic compounds in it.

The botanicals can either be in a mesh bag suspended above the alcohol or in a metal box which is joined to the still.

Vaporisation results in a different flavour profile than maceration as the alcohol is at a lower temperature passing through. The resulting botanical flavours are less cooked but different doesn’t mean better or worse, just different.

3. Steeping without distillation

This isn’t really a viable option in the alcoholic gin world. Basically, if you have alcohol you use it, it is much better.

With steeping you have no control as to what ends up in the final gin. All aromatic compounds are in there. With distillation you can tailor the temperature to exclude anything you don’t want in there.

What steeping is good for is the gin liqueurs such as sloe gin. Colours and sweetness can be added to the gin that would not survive the distillation process.

My mother in law makes sloe gin and it is fantastic, we gave it out at my wedding as favours.

How is non alcoholic gin made?

Ok, so you have an alcoholic gin, how do you make that into a non alcoholic one?

The answer is, you guessed it, distillation!

Often when a gin is distilled, it needs to be diluted down and neutral alcohol added. Well for a non alcoholic gin, the can just no add any alcohol back in and dilute it down to under 0.0% if needed. If that dilutes the flavour too much they can do another round of distillation to remove even more alcohol.

Flavourings

As we see with steeping, once a gin is ready and not for further distillation, you can add even more flavouring to it.

Typically you can buy rhubarb gins such as Clean Co Clean Clean G Rhubarb .

The ever popular Sloe Gin is my favourite. You gather sloe berries and steep them in gin and sugar for a magically sweet, red, fruity gin. If the gin is 0.0% then you have an alcohol free Sloe Gin!

“Gin” and the Law

All the big gin brands have marketed their 0.0% gins. However, did you know that not only has a gin to be flavoured with juniper, it must also have 37.5% ABV or up to 40% ABV depending on where you live.

That means that technically all the non alcoholic and alcohol free gins shouldn’t really be called gins at all! But no one seems to care too much.

philmcclelland

Hi im Phil. Im the sole writer on this site. For more info look at my about page https://www.openingthebottle.com/about-us/

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