Hopped Distillate Construction

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I’m still trying to construct a gin like product. Many formulas are known but I am trying to break away from them to create something new with a lot of direction. I’m still intensely interested in hops, particularly the fruitier smelling varieties. Hitachino’s Kiuchi No Shizuku has a gorgeous aroma that seems to lean more on fruit from their hops than an herbaceous character. Apricot is easily perceived but the fruitiness may be exacerbated by their choice of orange peel. I thought that maybe I could split botanicals off into pairs to find good proportions like balancing coriander and orange peel. But now I see that hops may need to be paired with the orange peel to produce the seductive fruity character. So this seemingly simple trio becomes more interrelated than any other trio I can think off. Juniper seems like it could easily be split off from coriander & orange peel which is the case in many classic gin recipes where you see seriously variable amounts of juniper to the fairly constant ratios of coriander & orange peel.

For my latest five liter batch I used:
75g coriander
200g creole shrubb
200g pacific jade hops

These hops proved to be more herbaceous than the Palisades but they are still very enjoyable. Finding the right hop variety will be key to locking down a recipe. I split off the coriander and orange peel and distilled them from a liter of 80 proof spirits plus the small amount of the alcohol in the Shrubb out to 120 proof. I distilled the hops with 3.5 liters of 80 proof spirits out to about 150 proof. I did lose about a 100 mL or so at the end when the distillate turned cloudy very quickly on me. To bring things to about 5 liters at 80 proof I needed to add 500 mL of 80 proof spirits plus the 100 or so mL I lost when I tossed the really cloudy tails. Upon cutting everything down to proof with distilled water everything turned really cloudy on me which I’m afraid may be the nature of hops. Hitachino has a crystal clear product but I suspect when they distill the beer to 30 proof and let it sit in barrels with extra botanicals before re-distilling, it may have something to do with leaving behind what ever produces the cloudiness. My understanding is that only the middle run at 80-85% alcohol is saved for gin which is not what I’m practicing.

So I should state that I love the taste but I need a crystal clear product. I guess I could re-distill and risk loosing some aroma to try and gain clarity, but I should probably also read up on techniques for cutting down over proof spirits.

***update***

Part of the cloudiness has subsided and decent amount of separated oil has risen to the surface which indicates that I accepted far too much of the tails even though the taste and aroma was not objectionable. I’ve read that you can sometimes skim off the oils but it doesn’t totally solve the problem. I will probably still need to re-distill.

***update!***

I re-distilled everything to maybe 160 proof or so separating everything into five pints. I was then planning on diluting them one at a time to see at what point thing would be cloudy (if at all). Well things didn’t work out so well. The first jar become very cloudy which means that there is a problem with the heads and the second jar is cloudy but far less so. I was pretty sure the second jar would be far into the middle run and not leave any problems. Now I really don’t know what to do. The distillate is especially delicious by the way so I have a good motivator to move forward. I also did learn that the hop variety that Sierra Nevada used in their beer schnapps was Cascade. If anyone would come forth with any advice I’d be happy to take it.

So I may just have to dilute with 80 proof spirits instead of water. If gin must be clear there may be limits to its intensity. This is also relative to the final alcohol content. I’m probably just making my recipes too intense.

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2 thoughts on “Hopped Distillate Construction”

  1. I would try separating it off into test tubes and varying the pH by 10ths, using acid and/or base to adjust. The choices will be difficult.. you wouldn’t want the flavor of the acid or base to ruin the product.. however, organics behave differently as far as their solubility in water with regards to pH (as well as temperature, to a smaller extent), and so it may be worth the time to investigate to see if you can alter in this way to get a clear product.

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