jamie goode's wine blog: How gin is made: a film from the Beefeater distillery, London

Friday, December 14, 2007

How gin is made: a film from the Beefeater distillery, London

A short, rather rough and ready film showing how gin is made...

This was filmed yesterday at the Beefeater distillery, near the Oval cricket ground in Kennington, South London. It's an interesting process. The rules stipulate that gin distilleries can't do the first distillation on site, so the spirit comes in, is put into tanks, and then mixed with botanicals before the second distillation.

It's the 'botanicals' that is the interesting bit about gin. In a way, gin production is a bit similar to the work of a perfumier. Juniper berries are one of the key components, but as you'll see from the film, there are a lot more, including coriander seed, seville orange peel, liquorice, almonds and lemon peel.

These botanicals are steeped in alcohol for 24 h, then distillation begins. The end result is then taken off to Scotland where it is diluted to the appropriate strength to make gin.



At 3:30 PM, Blogger Jan-Tore Egge said...

Interesting video, particularly the maceration of the botanicals before the final distillation. I bet it smells!

Is it really illegal to distill the raw spirit on the same site? I'm not surprised it is produced elsewhere, as it's an industrial process (and made by continuous distillation, unlike the final distillation with the botanicals).

I've got a DVD with a drinks series where they visit the Plymouth distillery, which seems to get its botanicals from roughly the same countries. There's no mention of the maceration there (we just see them throwing the botanicals into the still), but they might still do it, of course. They also point out that the raw spirit has to be diluted with water before the final distillation, or the still would blow up.

Ah, angelica, Norway's only export as far as herbs are concerned. That is, it was apparently spread from here to the rest of Europe during the middle ages, but the Low Countries seem to dominate the trade in it these days. It grows along the river that runs through my town, and by the brook in one of the parks. If you want to harvest wild angelica, you really need to know the plant well; there have been people who have confused it with the deadly poisonous cowbane.

Other botanicals too bring back memories, such as buying liquorice roots in a tea shop or picking juniper berries in different locations, including a 1000-metre peak just east of here. Then there's Life of Brian, of course: "Get off those bushes!"

Sniffing botanicals is not only fun, but a useful exercise for memorising smells. Looks like quite an instructive distillery tour.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Ron Combo said...

Am I right in thinking that Beefeater the only gin producer left in London? Out of interest, I presume the gin goes by road up to Scotland for bottling. Can't they bottle in London and cut down on emissions? Anyway, thanks Jamie, enjoyed that.

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Colman Stephenson said...

Great film Jamie, thanks.

However I don't get the reason for disallowing the first distillation on site.

Is this a safety thing?



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home