Below is an excerpt from GINNED! Magazine about our September 2015 Gin of the Month Burleigh's Gin. Every month, Craft Gin Club members receive a bottle of amazing small-batch gins such as Burleigh's accompanied by GINNED! Magazine which is full of features about the gin, the distillery and loads of fascinating features.
One of the things we at the Craft Gin Club love about Burleigh’s Gin is that not only can you taste it, but you have the opportunity to make your own expression of it at the distillery! We caught up with Lucy Middleton, Manager of the 45 West Gin School, to learn more about the experience students have in making Spirits of Adventure.
How does a day at the 45 West Gin School start?
The Gin School experience is like the best science lesson you’ll ever have! We start by taking students through our working artisan distillery where our master distillers offers unique insight into the art of distilling, gin’s rich history and the rapid rise of craft distilled gin. We take a look at the factors that determine the “type” of gin. For example, Burleigh’s is a London Dry which means it goes through a single distillation process, mustn’t contain artificial ingredients and cannot have flavours or colouring added after the distillation process as some brands are.
Students also get to meet our beautiful 450-litre copper pot still, Messy Bessy, before moving over to the mini copper pot stills in which they make their own gin.
How do you help students to find their preferred flavour profile before they make their gin?
Firstly, our master distillers explain the use of botanicals in gin, the legal requirements behind the amount of juniper needed, and the importance of blending botanicals and flavours to create a well-balanced gin. We do this by giving examples of the botanical mixtures of well-known brands.
Whilst we like to discuss what brands of gin our graduates like, it’s often more important to establish what flavours they prefer. Once they’ve decided on floral, citrus, herbal or spicy notes, we can then advise them on botanicals and quantities. All graduates choose their own botanicals and can ask for guidance from our master distillers to get the proportions right and ensure their gin tastes like gin at the end of the class.
We encourage our graduates to bring their own botanicals along and have seen gin created using ingredients such as fresh mint leaves, olives and even tea! Once the botanicals have been weighed, the distillation process can begin.
What’s the distillation process like for students?
The distillation process is in essence the same for Messy Bessy and our mini, 1.5-litre copper pot stills with all botanicals being added at the beginning. The main difference is the time it takes: our gin school students distill their gin in 45 minutes. The size also affects botanicals differently as well. For instance, some botanicals such as rose buds wouldn’t be practical to use on a large scale but work well on the mini stills. The mini-stills do get hot so we advise our students not to touch them during the distillation.
Once our students spirits are distilled and we have measured the alcohol strength, each unique gin is bottled, sealed and labelled. We’ve had some fabulous gins created as well as a couple of questionable creations. None yet have made it to the next stage of development but we do inform our graduates that we reserve the right to “steal” their recipes!