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The art & science of cold distillation

If you’re curious about how we achieve such clean, crisp flavours in our gin, here’s an introduction to the dark art of cold distillation.

It’s different from traditional distillation in many ways. Firstly, it uses a vacuum to reduce the evaporation point of the raw ingredients. This means we can extract the flavour from our botanicals without cooking them. It’s like the difference between fresh orange and marmalade.

Another key difference is the way we distil each botanical individually, in our rotary evaporator. This gives us much more control and the ability to extract the best essential oils possible. It’s a more complex method, but we feel it’s important because there’s a big variation in how long different botanicals take to give up their flavour.

Take juniper berries for example, a key botanical in every gin. Their molecular flavour profile includes piney, citrusy, woody, floral, peppery and minty notes. Our process means we can get the precise natural hit of juniper that we’re after.

Before distillation takes place we macerate our botanicals in alcohol (Organic Neutral Grain Spirit made from winter wheat). Traditionally, all botanicals would be treated the same. But at Griffiths Brothers we feel we get superior flavour by using the optimum maceration time for each, individually. Experience has shown us that coriander seeds take longer to release their essential oils than fresh orange peel.

Once each botanical ingredient has been macerated, it's rotated in a vacuum and boiled at room temperature. The resulting vapour is then condensed at -8°C. This is achieved by pumping super-chilled methanol around a glass coil containing our spirit. This effectively locks in the volatile flavours and the resulting spirit becomes the basis for our gin.

The finished product might look simple, but there’s a lot going on to achieve the perfect balance.