Recipes for making your own gin have been circling the internet for nearly a decade. Gin, by definition is an alcoholic spirit which gets its primary flavor from juniper. This means that even spirits in which the juniper has been added after distillation, a.k.a compound gins are still technically gin (for example Crater Lake Gin and Tru2 Compounded gins often have a different flavor profile, because the juniper [and other botanicals] are not distilled; therefore aromatics which might not come through as strongly during distillation are still present, in addition to all of the essential, and non-distillable oils present in the ingredients. But don’t take this to be an indicator of quality— compound gins can be every bit as good tasting and high quality as a distilled gin: the power is in the hands of the creator…. The only other major difference (which isn’t a small one for bartenders) is that a compound gin will have a golden to brown hue depending on the ingredients used. Mixed drinks will tend to appear muddy and can be somewhat unattractive. (but don’t worry, they will still taste exceptional… if it really bothers you, drink in the dark).
Review of Ginbrew Kit
One of the best things about making your own gin at home is that I think it gives the home drinker full control to create a gin which suits their tastes AND an opportunity to learn more about gin and the ingredients which go into it.
Unfortunately, Ginbrew Jenevieve doesn’t afford the home gin-maker this option. The botanicals come pre-mixed, and the directions are such that you can make your gin without ever even interacting with the ingredients.
We ripped open the bag and put it onto a plate to see what was in there, and exactly how much of everything was in there. There was a single dried raspberry, some chamomile, lavender, a single rose hip, juniper, bits of elderflower, coriander, hibiscus (maybe?), green cardamom pods, what appeared to be very small pieces of dried angelica, bay leaves, chamomile flowers and I think even fennel seed. There was certainly a lot of pieces in here, and some of the dried bits and bobs difficult to discern for sure. If you do make this batch at home, I’d highly suggest at least fishing out the cardamom pods and gentle opening them, you won’t get much flavor with sealed husks. I briefly contemplated reverse engineering the recipe to identify the exact quantities, but decided not to give away any ratio secrets. Suffice to say, there’s a good quantity of juniper, and only a small amount of the more expensive cardamom, raspberry and rose hips.
As for the kit, I found it a bit disappointing that the brewer isn’t more engaged in the process of making their batch of Ginbrew Jenevieve. The only major decision point you really have is the kind of vodka you use. After that, it’s a pour/shake/filter sort of thing. I’d love to see Ginbrew take the opportunity to share with you the specifics about what’s in their kits [like down to the ratios/quantities] and help the brewer customize, or at the very least, get to know the botanicals which are in there. As an opportunity to learn about gin, it’s a lost one.
That being said, on the positive side, it’s easy to make, and the end product is certainly worth your time.
Ginbrew Jenevieve is the color of dried hay, and has a lovely juniper led nose, with chamomile/elderflower carrying the back end. I’m getting some notes of menthol/mint as well. If you didn’t see the color, you wouldn’t guess this was a compound gin.
The palate is vibrantly colored with the botanicals, nearly all of them quite literal and forward: juniper and chamomile up front, violet and a building spice note come through in the mids, with the spice seguing into a finish where I definitely can taste a hint of tart, juicy raspberry (guess one goes a long way!).
Relatively long finish, with coriander and peppercorn on the long palate.
Cocktail wise, some drinks like the Aviation were somewhat unattractive colorwise, having the hue of dark sandy water, but the flavor was actually quite nice. I’d recommend it. It made a solid gin and tonic and complemented Vermouth in a Martini as well. In short, it works well as a gin. If the color’s an issue, go grab a tonic syrup. I think that was my favorite way to have this gin, because the vibrant melange of flavors combined in a fascinating and intense way. Perhaps ginbrew’s should look into companion syrups too?
This rating is for the Ginbrew Jenevieve as a gin: As a gin, Ginbrew Jenevieve is actually quite good with a nice floral structure supported by juniper and bay. The color is a problem when mixing, but I think that the blend Ginbrew has put together is compelling enough to be more than just an experiment in home gin making.
*Note, I used Russian Standard Vodka. bottled at 40% ABV, and distilled from Wheat.