Even if you’ve cleaned the still after your last run, you will want to clean it again. If you’re just now learning how to make gin or any other spirit for that matter, now is the time to really emphasize this. Building good habits early on in your distilling routine is smart.
Adding Botanical Mix To Your Still Column
After you’ve cleaned your still thoroughly, you’ll need to add your botanical mix to your still column. For this, you will roll up about 20 inches of copper packing and insert it into the bottom section of your still’s column. Then wrap your crushed botanical mix into a folded piece of cheesecloth. Be sure to fold the sides of the cheesecloth upward to make a small satchel. Tie a string around the top of your small botanical satchel.
Lower your botanical cheesecloth satchel down the column onto the copper packing using the string. If you are using a still with a site glass section, clamp it below the section of your column with the copper packing.
If your still setup has a condenser, hook up your water input and output.
Next, you’re going to add your gin mash water into your still. We highly recommend using a siphon for this process. This method is the best way to reduce the amount of sediment from your fermented gin mash water getting into the still. Leaving particles and sediments in the mash water will cause the distillate to burn and ruin your product, so be diligent during this step.
Running Your Still
Now it’s time to fire up your still! Ensure that your still is properly set for this step. Secure all clamps and domes and make sure condensers are properly attached, as well as any hoses.
Next, you’ll turn on the heat source and start raising the temperature of your gin mash water. Slowly bring your temperature up to 150 °F. Once you reach 150 °F, turn on the condensing water, if your setup has a condenser.
After that, dial up your heat source to high until your still starts producing. Time your drips as they speed up until you reach 3 to 5 drips per second. Once you reach this rate, dial down your heat to maintain this drip rate (usually the “medium” setting).
Distilling gin is a fascinating process. If you’re not familiar with the science of the distillation process, here is a quick break down. Distilling separates different alcohol chemicals by taking advantage of different evaporation temperatures points between the chemicals.
The distilling process is not actually creating the alcohol itself. The alcohol was already created during the fermentation process. Distilling simply separates the different forms of alcohol from all of the other substances in your gin mash water. As a result, a purified and stronger spirit is created.