A Complete Guide to Gin Botanicals

Gin has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and more and more consumers are asking questions about what botanicals are in their favorite drink. Most gin brands don’t like to list what ingredients they’re uses as they’d be giving away their trade secret!

To make gin you start with essentially a neutral spirit (like vodka) and then add flavor by distillation or compounding, using juniper and other herbs, fruits, roots, berries, and seeds. These’re are what we refer to as botanicals! And while vodkas taste fairly similar, each kind of gin has a much more distinctive taste.

In most gin, the alcohol acts as a solvent and extracts away the aromatic that is in the botanicals. These are boiled off first in the distillation column, collected, and proofed down to make the gins you know and love.

Many botanicals are used in flavoring gin, however, in this article, we are going to discuss the most popular ones.

How do You Add Botanicals to Spirits?

The easiest method is the ‘maceration’ method. Mix the botanicals (ground juniper, crushed cinnamon, crushed berries, and citrus peel) and the neutral spirit in a pot still for anywhere from overnight to a few weeks. Then distilll and collect the now flavored alcohol. You then dilute it to the strength you want to use.

Some people mix all of the botanicals together; others distill them separately and combine the liquids at the end.

You can also use vapor infusion. Boil the neutral spirit and let the steam rise through a basket that contains the botanicals. Then, allow it to cool, and the condensing liquid will be infused with the flavors you use. This tends to bring through more delicate flavors.

For some botanicals, you can use a jar and store it in a cool, dark place for long enough to create gin. It takes longer if there is no boiling or evaporation involved, but you can still make gin with cold infusion. This is called compound gin

You can read our full guide on gin distillation methods here: A Complete Guide to Gin Styles

The Essentials:

Juniper Berries

Juniper is what makes gin a gin.

In fact, most jurisdictions require at least 80% of the botanical bill to be juniper for the drink to qualify as a London dry style for example. However, modern contemporary gins are bucking the tradition and opting for lower amounts of juniper to make room for other, more exotic flavors.

Juniper berries are sweat-scent and peppery with a semisweet taste and hallmarks of camphor, lavender, and pine. Besides, the berries also have an overtone of an overripe banana with a spicy finish.

This gin botanical comes from the family of cypress and most berries that are used in the production of gin mostly comes from India, Macedonia, Serbia, and Italy. Some of the best-regarded juniper berry crops are known to come from Macedonia and Tuscany mountain slopes in particular. The Asian berries are larger and cheaper than the darker European ones so often are preferred for cooking thank gin making.

The season for handpicking these berries is from October up to February, so if you’re looking for fresh berries then start your hunt around these dates.

It is important to note that the major flavor compounds are 3 main oils in the berry:

  • camphor
  • p-terpineol
  • alpha-pinene.

These combine to produce the distinctive piney taste that is so distinctive of gin.

Distillers purchase juniper by the measure of weight. Its also common for distillers to keep the berries for about two years before using them. During the period some moisture content is removed but their oil content stays intact. This means no only is the berry more concentrated, but the resulting gin is more consistent in taste.

Juniper Berries
OriginsThroughout northern Europe – particularly Macedonia and Tuscany.
FlavorsStrong pine, sweet, dank, and pungent. A hint of hops. distinct ‘Gin’ flavor.
PreparationUse fresh or dried. Typically dried.
QuantitiesBetween 5 and 35 gram/L
NotesThe key ingredient in gin. High oil content can lead to louching in large ratios.
Making gin with juniper berry cheatsheet

Sale
Frontier Co-op Organic Whole Juniper Berries 1lb
  • JUNIPER BERRY - With unusual cone shapes and a scaly surface, juniper berries are a unique seasoning. There are several species of juniper berries, produced on evergreen trees native to North America, Europe, and Asia. Juniper berries are not real berries as the name suggests, but serve a similar botanical purpose. They are used as a spice and also as a drink enhancement, especially with alcoholic beverages.

Coriander Seed

Coriander seeds are the second most essential flavoring agent in gin.

These days, most of the seeds come from Russia, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Romania, and Morocco. The flavor varies widely based on the region – for instance when the seeds that come from Bulgaria are more powerful compared to the Moroccan seeds.

Coriander is aromatic, fragrant, spicy, and mellow with a sage, lemon, a candied ginger taste. It comes with linalool essential oil.

The master distiller Joanne Simcock from J&G Greenall mentioned that when she smells coriander a naan bread memory comes to her mind. It gives a compounded citrus additional to gin, even though other distillers blame their competitors for using cheap citrus peel as a substitute to coriander.

Distillers mostly use crushed and roasted coriander seeds, but others still use it as a whole which makes the flavor vary. A gin that comes with a powerful coriander presence may be alienating to drinkers. Those who dislike the taste of coriander will never give it any attention to it, while those who like it will adorn the flavor with every possible word. Overall, coriander seeds are an easy supplement to juniper flavors.

It is apparent that coriander performance a great role in presenting a sweet and aromatic gin. In essence, you’ll rarely get a gin that lucks coriander in it. Be that at it may, the tone of coriander is always nuanced. The plant itself comes with a one-of-a-kind flavor after it has been distilled, it is nutty, somehow spicy, and citrusy.

Corriander Seeds
Origins Russia, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Romania, and Morocco.
FlavorsAromatic, fragrant, spicy, and mellow with a sage, lemon, a candied ginger taste. It comes with linalool essential oil.
PreparationDried – use either crushed or uncrushed.
QuantitiesAround 3 gram/L
NotesGenerally also always present in gin. Aim for between 1/2 to 1/4 by weight of juniper.
Gel Whole Coriander Seeds Bulk Size 2.5 LB
  • Corander Sees are Known as dhania, dhaniya, corriander, and cilantro seeds

Orris Root

Orris root is essentially the bulb of the iris plant. It’s a strange but staple ingredient in gin, as outside of Chinese medicine, and perfume making and gin, orris it isn’t used too much in western culture.

Oris and angelica play a special role in gin and are known as fixatives. What this means is they help stabilise and lock in the other gin flavors. While you may not notice the taste of orris explicitly, you’ll be hard pressed to find a gin that doesn’t use this or angelica at least in some quantities.

Oris root brings with a subtle earthy yet perfumed aroma.. The roots are almost like the root of ginger, but orris has a distinguishable chalk-white inside them. A plant that is about three to four years are picked, and then kept for about three years before it can be used. The final botanical is usually extremely hard and needs crushing to the powder before its use. This means orris root is usually bought and used in powdered form.

You can spot orris powder by it’s milky brown colour and chalk-dust consistency.

The botanical majorly comes from Florence, Italy.

When eaten raw, the root of this plant is extremely bitter while the tastes of cold stewed tea which is why orris seems like a strange staple gin ingredient. However, it’s only when combined with other botanicals and distilled that the magic starts to happen.

Many distillers sing endless praises to this botanical because it boasts an ability to counter other botanical flavors and tops a floral fragrance note to it. Aside from being used in the gin, with a strong scent, this botanical is suitable for perfumes there is an unconfirmed report that says that the popular Chanel 5 perfume boasts a high constituent of orris roots.

Orris Root
Origins Italy
FlavorsAromatic, earthy yet perfumed aroma
PreparationDried – usually in a powder form
QuantitiesAround 0.5 gram/L
NotesIts very common to use either angelica or orris as a fixative in most gins.

Angelica Root

The root of this plant is popularly used by most gin distillers either with orris root or by itself, for its fixative properties. Some go to the extent of using its seeds and flowers as well, however, it’s the roots that are most common and what we’re talking about here today.

The taste of the gin with this botanical is earthy and herbal. The root is commonly known to come from Romania, Flanders, Germany, and France. The root of angelica is used to fix a wide range of volatile flavors. The combination of these gin botanicals brings a very harmonious and blended taste to the final gin – which without angelica would taste quite rough.

Unlike the juniper berries or coriander seeds, the prudence of the root of the botanical does not impact its quality, and every distiller should be celebrating.

If you’ve never tried a gin made from this botanical then it’s worth learning it. Just like juniper, this botanical comes with a very complex flavor. JB who is a master distiller says that the roots of angelica come with a bitter, yet sweet and herbaceous taste, not to mention its earthy notes.

They have a distinctive pungent aroma which is instantly recognizable if you know it and very confusing for people who don’t. I personally think a jar of angelica root gives off the same smell and a freshly opened beer (maybe a Carlsberg?). There’s certainly a dank earthiness that resembles some hop varieties when carried by the ethanol.

The plants grow to oversized leaves with a sturdy stalk and countless flowers. The plant can also be located in normal gardens, however, it’s most distillers opt for it when it’s in a drinkable form. Even though angelica root is not sued widely, it can still be a good way to try new gin flavors, you can expect to feel a celery-like or hop-like fragrant.

Using Angelica Root In Gin
OriginsRomania, Germany, and France.
FlavorsAromatic, pungent, dank, earthy.
PreparationDried, and sliced or left whole. Crush with a mortar and pestle before use.
Quantities0.5 to 1 gram/L
NotesAn essential fixative. Start with 1/10th the amount of angelica to juniper.
Making gin with angelica root cheatsheet
Sale
Frontier Co-op Organic Cut & Sifted Angelica Root 1lb
  • Botanical Name: Angelica archangelica L.

Cubeb Berries

Cubeb Berries are not berries so much as peppercorns. They are also known as the tailed pepper or the java pepper. They are originally from Indonesia and are now grown mostly in Java and Sumatra.

The plant is a long-lived, flowering vine. It contains hard, white, oily seeds, which are dried, ground up, and used in food, vodka, and gin.

Cubeb berries have a more complex taste than pepper does. Raw pepper is straightforwardly hot and spicy; cubeb berries have a less simple taste. To some people, they taste more like allspice than pepper or somewhere in between.

At first, gin with cubeb berries might taste similar to gin with pepper, but there are other flavors under the surface. Cubeb berries can sometimes taste like lemon, pine, or flowers, despite tasting more like pepper than anything else.

Sometimes, a small amount of cubeb berries is enough. You might use as little as two grams when distilling or vapor-infusing gin. Crush the cubeb “berries” before you add them to the botanical mix.

Using Cubeb Berries In Gin
OriginsIndonesia
FlavorsA cross between black pepper and allspice
PreparationPicked before ripe and dried. Use crushed or unclushed
Quantities1 – 4 berries
NotesA common ingredient in London dry style gins
Making gin with Cubeb Berries root cheatsheet

Citrus:

Lemon Peel (dried)

In London Dry Gin, lemon is one of the classic gin botanicals that plays a very vital role. The lemon peels ought to be dried well before they can be used. Unlike the orange, the lemon is exquisite, hence delivering a hint of bitterness and dry freshness. When it comes to the aromas, you’ll be able to get the lemon’s flavor sharply in the nose while the first taste disappears before you can get done with the sip.

A lemon twist in the gin will add a taste of citrus flavor. Are you wondering why we opt for the dried lemon peel? You’re not alone. Because the peel is where all the essentials oils are concentrated. And dried to ensure the moisture is fully removed. This gin botanical comes with a somewhat bitter and crisp note in it.

Many distillers acquire these botanicals from Andalucía located in Southern Spain. This geographical location is suitable because farmers hand-peel the fruits and sun-dried. With lemon peel added to your gin, you can expect to get lemony, juicy, citrusy flavors.

For the process, after the skin is peeled, you’ll need to dry the peels, then dry them before you can infuse and distill them. Don’t forget that is among the top 5 popularly used botanicals to flavor gin. The lemon peel tops up to an easily recognizable tart, citrus, fresh note with a crispness that will match and offsets the powerful juniper with earthier bitter notes.

Using Lemon Peel In Gin
OriginsEasily found worldwide. Italy and Spain are large producers.
FlavorsStrong citrus essential oil aroma and flavor. Air freshener smell
PreparationUse fresh or dried. Dried will yield more consistent results and is preferred with professional distillers.
QuantitiesUp to 15gram/L
NotesCan be very overpowering. Prone to louching. Vapour infusion yields a fresher flavor. Very volatile and will come through at the very start of distillation so may wish to take a ‘fores’ cut to remove the most intense flavors.
Making gin with lemon peel cheatsheet

Orange Peel (dried)

Orange peel is mostly sourced from Seville in Spain where the oranges are picked around march. Various distillers select different oranges type, other opt for sweet and others bitter. With orange peel, the gin gets a new life, becomes juicy with warm flavors. It is advisable to remember that only dried orange peels are used just like the lemon peels. Sun-dried ones are mostly preferred because all the moisture content is removed without leaving a pungent smell.

Not only does the orange peel renders the gin to be bright and quality, but also plays a key role during the distillation process. This gin botanical is also popular like the lemon peel botanicals. The process of removing the orange peel is quite easy; simply remove the orange peel with a very sharp knife together with the attached pith.

The flavor that this orange peel imparts on the gin is a bitter taste however, this is when the Seville oranges are used, other sweet oranges may leave a semi-sweet flavor in your gin. Additionally, the peel is endowed with essential oil. The orange peel adds flavor, hence becoming outstanding from other herbs, spices, and redolence, and tends to strengthen other flavors to excellence. Although it may be underrated and overlooked, orange peels still have their role when it comes to driving the gin flavors to an extra level. Many distillers regard this botanical as a unifying flavor.

Using Orange Peel In Gin
OriginsSpain and Italy – though most regions will source their citrus locally
FlavorsOrange! bright, fresh citrus
PreparationUse fresh or dried. Dried will yield more consistent results and is preferred with professional distillers.
QuantitiesUp to 15gram/L
NotesCan be macerated or used in the vapour path for more freshness. Avoid any pith when using fresh. Very volatile and will come through at the very start of distillation so may wish to take a ‘fores’ cut to remove the most intense flavors.
Making gin with orange peel cheatsheet
Frontier Co-op Organic Cut & Sifted Orange Peel 1lb
  • ORANGE PEEL - Frontier Co-op Organic Orange Peel (Citrus sinensis) is removed from the orange and dried to perfection, preserving the intensity of its citrus flavor. The orange originated in Ancient China and is grown and harvested in tropical and subtropical regions across the world, including Brazil, India, and the southern U.S.

Floral:

Chamomile Flowers

Chamomile is mostly associated with a calming tea made out of chamomile flower petals. It works as herbal medicine and is used as a common sleep remedy.

Chamomile is native to Europe. It grows everywhere but is also cultivated. You can easily grow the flowers from seeds yourself. Some forms of the plant can grow in poor soil. The flowers are white and yellow and grow on flimsy, green stalks.

Chamomile sometimes tastes similar in gin as it does in tea, especially if used in isolation. It affects and softens the aroma of the gin, making it smell floral. Sometimes, it can smell sort of like apple or hay.

Using Chamomile Flowers In Gin
OriginsWestern Europe and India.
FlavorsSubtle floral, herbal tea, dusty hay.
PreparationUse dried. No need to crush.
Quantities0.2 – 0.5gram/L (1/4 – 1/2 a teaspoon)
NotesCan be macerated or used in the vapour path for more freshness. Avoid any pith when using fresh. Very volatile and will come through at the very start of distillation so may wish to take a ‘fores’ cut to remove the most intense flavors.
Making gin with Chamomile Flowers cheatsheet

Lavender Flowers

Another one of the more common botanicals is lavender. Lavender is a herb used for stress, anxiety, insomnia, and pain in alternative and traditional medicines. The flowers are picked and used for perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetic/hygiene products. It is also commonly used to add a perfume quality to gin!

Not every type of lavender is just as good as every other, especially not if you are making gin. The English kind of lavender is much better. Lavender is best if you pick it when it is in full bloom and used fresh, or dried immediately to lock in the flavor.

Everyone knows the smell of lavender, but what does it taste like in gin? It is fresh and light but not sweet. It has a very floral taste, more similar to rose than to other botanicals, although you can easily tell the difference between the two. It may remind you of soap and perfume, although not in a bad way!

Using Lavender Flowers In Gin
OriginsEngland
FlavorsStong floral, perfume taste. Similar to rose.
PreparationUse dried or fresh, crushed or uncrushed.
Quantities0.1 – 0.2gram/L (Lavender is very potent so use sparingly!)
NotesCommonly used in vapor distillation due to the delicate flavors and high oil content.
Making gin with Lavender Flowers cheatsheet

Hops

Hops is a tall, flowering plant; cultivated for its flowers, which are used to make beer. Hops has not been used for thousands of years, but it is fairly old. It has been cultivated since at least as far back as the ninth century and was first cultivated in Europe.

Hops are mostly for beer, but you can use them in harder drinks as well. Hopped gins often have a citrusy flavor that might remind you of an India pale ale. How hopped gin tastes depends on how it is made.

If you add hops to the mix after distillation, you end up with a bitter flavor that reminds you of beer. If you distill the hops instead, you get gin with a sweeter, more floral, and more citrusy flavor. If you want to make a gin that reminds people of an IPA, add the hops at the end after your other botanicals have been distilled.

You might use about half an ounce of hops per 750ml of whiskey or vodka/gin. You might steep it for only a day or two and use a filter to separate the mixture.

You can make chamomile gin easily without equipment. You don’t need a still, and you don’t need fresh hazelnut leaves. You can put about 15 or 20 chamomile tea bags into 750ml of gin/vodka and leave it overnight. The tea leaves will seep into the mixture without heat, though this takes much longer than hot-brewing tea.

HiUsing Hops In Gin
OriginsEngland, New Zealand, USA, Australia all grow distinct varieties
FlavorsDank, piney, resinous. Beer taste.
PreparationDried pellets commonly available in vacuum-packed sachets from homebrew stores
Quantities0.2 – 1gram/L (1-5 pellets)
NotesUse sparingly due to high oil contents
Making gin with Hop Flowers cheatsheet

Herbal:

Liquorice Root

Licorice root is known to have originally known to have come from India and Southern Europe.

It is very sugary and almost like anise or fennel. The flavor in this gin botanical is way further from candy aroma and you can expect a greater viscous texture. Licorice gin botanical is one of the most interesting plants to distill. Even though it’s assumed that the plant doesn’t offer any flavor at all, the botanicals deliver an incredible sweetness to the gin. Unlike the candy that you’re used to, licorice comes with a wide range of flavors.

The addition of licorice also ensures that the gin is pleasant and viscous. Keep note that if you are a diehard of licorice sweets, and you’re looking for its gin alternative, you need to be aware that the flavor found in licorice gin isn’t the same as that of the sweets.

The licorice flavor is strong and distinctive so avoid using too much. We’d always suggest you err on the side of too little.

The liquorice will also add a heat and a burn to the finish of your gin. So, if you’re working with other spicey elements like pepper, ginger, or chilli, you’ll want to be careful not to overdo it.

Other licorice is also sourced from Indo-China. The roots of the licorice plant are ground into a fine powder ready for distillation. Aside from making the spirit to be viscous and pleasant, the plant also makes the gin taste woody-earthy, bittersweet, fresh, and light. Apart from that, it adds length and base as well as softening, rounding-off, and sweetening a gin. The other unique thing about licorice is the fact that all its flavors are held by glyceric acid as opposed to essential oils which are often low in content.

Licorice Root
OriginsIndia and southern europe
FlavorsSweet aniseed taste. Spicey heat on the finish.
PreparationDried and crushed or powdered
QuantitiesAround 0.5gram/L
NotesAnother common botanical in London Dry style gins.
Making gin with licorice root cheatsheet

Ginger Root

Ginger has been grown in many parts of the world since ancient times. It was first cultivated in Southeast Asia and is certainly thousands of years old. It is the root of a yellow-flowered plant about a meter tall.

Ginger spread across long distances at an early date. It spread as far west as Europe as far back as the first century AD and also reached East Africa early. Today, Nepal, Nigeria, China, Thailand, and Indonesia all produce ginger, with India being the largest producer.

Ginger has medicinal properties and is used to flavor many dishes. People credit it with plenty of medicinal effects; some backed by more evidence than others. Ginger might prevent nausea/vomiting, either by affecting the nervous system or by affecting the brain. People also use ginger root for diabetes, migraines, and many other problems.

Ginger is an important part of Indian and Caribbean cooking. Many countries have dishes that include ginger. It is spicy in a distinctive way that is different from most other spicy foods.

Ginger is commonly used to flavor gin. It gives it a unique spicy but partly sweet taste that you can’t get from anything else other than ginger. It adds the same flavor to gin as it does to food – the right gin might even remind you of Asian cuisine.

You can use either fresh or dried ginger in gin, and they taste different. Fresh ginger has a very strong smell and taste. Dried ginger is a bit less intense and has a peppery taste to it. It is both spicy and sweet either way. Ginger is one of the most popular botanicals

Ginger Root
OriginsSoutheast Asia
FlavorsWarming heat, fragrant, earthy.
PreparationGenerally dried and crushed
QuantitiesAround 0.2- 0.5 gram/L
NotesGenerally also always present in gin. Aim for between 1/2 to 1/4 by weight of juniper.
Making gin with ginger root cheatsheet

Spice:

Cinnamon

Cinnamon originates from Ski Lanka and in most cases, it offers a spicy taste in gin. As compared to the cassia tree, the bark of cinnamon spins into quills. Unlike other gin botanicals under the herb, this plant needs no introduction. Everyone loves this plant because of its spicy, warm notes and impart the gin. One of the greatest facts regarding cinnamon brought forward by JB is the fact that this plant is from the laurel family – and that is why you may notice a few cinnamon flavors in the leaves found in the bay. It was brought to Egypt about 4000 years ago and to date, it is the main ingredient in the market of spices ever since.

This plant plays a crucial role as a complement to the testier notes found in the gin hence giving a burning spicy tone. Even though most distillers say that the flavor of actual cinnamon is gentler, it is easy to distinguish between cinnamon and cassia. Indeed, if you need to have a mind-blowing flavor of gin, don’t miss trying the one from the cinnamon tree.

Cinnamon Quills
Origins
Flavors
PreparationDried. Buy whole quills for maximum freshness. Lightly crush before use.
Quantities0.2 – 0.5 gram/L
NotesAnother common gin ingredient. Better extraction at higher temperatures so most flavor will come through at the end of the run
Making gin with cinnamon quills cheatsheet

Cardamon

Cardamon comes from the ginger family. The pods of this plant have an exclusive taste that can be easily identified in gin. The seeds are native to Indonesia and India but also it can be found in Indo-china, Tanzania, and Guatemala. Although cardamon comes in both black and green variety, the green one is the one that is mostly used in the production of gin since it is endowed with a great delicate flavor and perfumed aroma.

Other than its tastes and smells, it’s hardly difficult to explain what cardamon does. The spice has been there for years, and if you happen to travel to the southern part of India, you’ll come across this spice. When the pods of cardamon are added to gin they look bright green with a sort of medicinal and numbing taste, plus, they are very aromatic with extremely powerful flavor. Also, cardamon makes gin taste citrusy, close to eucalyptus, and spicy.

Aside from being used as a gin botanical, this pod can be used for food trade, perfumery, and as Arabic coffee. Are you wondering how these seeds are harvested? Well, the pods are harvested by hand and thereafter dried. After they are tried enough, the pods are then broken to give the black seed of the cardamon. The harvest time for this plant usually falls between October to February but may vary from country to country. Finally, the Latin name for this is Elettaria Cardamomum.

Green Cardamom Pods
OriginsIndia, Tanzania, Southeast Asia
Flavors
PreparationDried – Can purchase either whole pods (with husk) or just the seeds. We use whole and crush before use.
QuantitiesAround 0.2 – 0.5 gram/L
NotesAnother very common ingredient in Gin
Using Cardamom Pods in gin cheatsheet

Black Peppercorn

Black pepper probably originated in India but is grown mostly in Vietnam. The plant is a vine with small seeds called drupes, which are picked early and cooked before they dry. Black pepper contains piperine, an aromatic compound that may have medicinal properties.

Black pepper is the most traded spice in the world. It has been commonly used in food since as far back as at least 4000 years ago in India. It is ubiquitous in food all over the world, including the western world. When combined with salt, it works to flavor almost anything that is not supposed to be sweet.

Many people credit black pepper with medicinal properties, many of which are not backed up by evidence but might still be real. Black pepper is sometimes used as a sleep aid or a treatment for toothaches or sunburns. It is also found in skincare products.

Black pepper is used very commonly in traditional gins such as the London dry style. The terpene piperine gives it a strong flavor. Black peppercorns give gin a spicy, bitter, alkaline taste.

Peppery gin is supposed to be piquant – pleasantly stinging – warm. It is almost supposed to be slightly painful to drink it, not quite literally painful but harsh.

Pepper does not have an unlimited shelf life, but it can last for years if stored in a cool dark place and in an airtight container.

Black Peppercorns
OriginsVietnam
FlavorsPepper, warming, spicey.
PreparationDried and crushed
QuantitiesAround 0.1 – 0.5 gram/L
NotesAnother very common ingredient in Gin
Using Black Peppercorn in gin cheatsheet

Pink Peppercorn

Pink pepper is very different from black pepper and comes from a different, unrelated plant native to South America. Just as a koala bear is not a bear, pink pepper is not really pepper. It is a somewhat less common botanical, not used as often as black pepper.

Every gin has a flavor profile, which measures how much of five roughly six flavors (juniper, citrus, spice, herbal, floral, fruit) contribute to the taste of the drink.

Peppercorn gin is spicy first and foremost. It may also be floral. Pink pepper is aromatic and has a rich, bitter taste. Sometimes, gin is mixed with quinine in mixed drinks. Peppercorn gin goes well with the also rich and bitter taste of tonic water with real quinine. Tonic water is also sweet and sugary, so the overall taste of this mixed drink is relatively mild.

Pink peppercorn won’t release its flavor without heat, so you need to distill it. You need to add about three tablespoons of pink peppercorns for every two cups of liquid or about six tablespoons (3 ounces) of peppercorns for each liter.

Nuts:

Almonds

Almonds

The almond tree is very close to the peach tree and it is known to have originated from South-West Asia. The main types of almonds used in gin are essentially bitter and sweet varieties. The two varieties are very hard and need to be grounded first before they are used.

Almonds are endowed with high content of essential oil and give the gin marzipan, spicy, nutty, and soapy flavor. More importantly, the use of nuts yields a viscosity and thickness to the final spirit. You can count Almond for your mouthfeel in gin.

What’s more, gives a delectable softness to the gin. Using one or two almonds per litre of final spirit will help marry up the other flavors and create a much more rounded final drink.

Confusingly, there are two key types of almonds. Bitter, and sweet.

Sweet almond comes from the Dulcis variety of the ‘Prunus Amygdalus (almond tree) and does not contain poisonous chemicals. Bitter almond however comes from the Amara variety of the almond tree and do contain a much greater amount of the precursor to cyanide (a highly toxic chemical).

This is a compound called amygdalin, which is present in much higher amounts in bitter almonds and is what gives them their bitter taste. When ingested, this compound breaks down into several chemicals, including benzaldehyde, which tastes bitter, and cyanide, a deadly poison. 

Most gins are from sweet almonds because they have no genetic mutation. To add more to the flavor, it still features a somewhat subtle, vanilla-tinged, creamy exotic flavor of the almond orgeat and syrup. On the flipside, bitter almond is from different almond tree variety and it has been proven beyond doubt to contain some toxic chemicals.

In terms of harvesting, almonds are shaken off the plant and given some time to dry right on the ground. Then it is placed in rows to be later collected using a tractor. Finally, they are then sorted and cleaned before they can be peeled and milled. Another use of almonds is that the waste can be used as animal feeds or for confectionery purposes.

Almonds
OriginsIraq, Syria, USA. (California)
Flavors
PreparationStored whole. Crushed before use.
Quantities1 nut per liter.
NotesNuts are an excellent way to add viscosity and mouthfeel to a gin.

Hazelnut

Hazelnuts grow on tall trees and have been widely used in for at least 8000 years. More than a million tons of hazelnuts are harvested each year, with almost 70% of the total harvested in turkey.

People roast the nuts, eat them raw, grind them into a paste, or make them into oil. Many foods contain hazelnut oil in many countries. You can also use hazelnut oil as cooking oil.

Hazelnut is more common in gin than you might think. Some popular gins, such as Bombay sapphire, are infused with hazelnut. Nuts are not a rare choice for botanicals. Hazelnut gin may subtly remind you of the taste of Nutella and some other nut spreads, which are made of hazelnuts.

When making hazelnut gin or rum, you might use shelled hazelnuts, first toasted and then ground up. When making hazelnut liqueur, you might use 400g of hazelnuts and 750ml of brandy and vodka. Making gin is similar to making liqueur, except without sweeteners and without brandy.

Macadamia Nut

Macademia nuts are native to Australia and have been commonly eaten since long before European contact. In the 1880s, they introduced the tree to Hawaii, which is where most of them were produced for a long time. About 160,000 tons of hazelnuts are harvested each year, mostly in South Africa and not Hawaii or Australia.

Macadamia nuts are noticeably hard to break open, much harder than hazelnuts. You can break a nut open with force, but it won’t open as easily as most other nuts will. The shells are very tough.

As a botanical, macadamia nuts give gin a nutty and savory taste. It goes well with vanilla, which is also common in macadamia nut gins. Macadamia nuts taste sweet and soften the taste of a bitter gin.

The fresher the nuts are, the better the gin tastes. Nuts should be roasted before they are added to the still, but this should be done while they are still very fresh.

Conclusion

We’ve worked hard to provide this *almost* complete guide to the gin botanicals that are commonly used if the best gins around the globe.

From spice to citrus, nutty to sweet – there’s a botanical that can provide the perfect balance to

Whether you’re a keen distiller, trying to hone your craft, or simply an interested gin drinker looking to find out a little more about what goes into their drink, then we hope this guide has been helpful.

Is there a botanical we’ve missed? let us know in the comments below what you think needs to go on the list, and we’ll get right on it.

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