The Intersection of Two of My Favorite Things: Science and Gin

I had a whole “Friday Night Happy Hour” ready to go in my head today.  I was going to write about a new drink that I’ve been working on (I’ve been trying to reconstitute one that I had at dinner in Chicago in September… and I think I finally got it) – but I actually ended up going out with some friends and former co-workers for a Friday Night Happy Hour.  So, the Blackbird Orange will have to wait…

So, another thing caught my eye in the scientific literature the other week – namely the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, in which a paper described the use of very low pressures and temperature to distill a better gin.

Now, your physical chemistry might be a little rusty, but it so happens that when you decrease exterior pressure, liquids will boil at a lower temperature.  The bright fellows that published this paper (they work for Bacardi) did experiment where they compared a gin distilled at normal pressure and about 80C, with one distilled at ~1/10000th atmospheric pressure and -15C and found that it produced a gin “cleaner, and the flavor more crisp and refreshing…quite extraordinary, superb really…”  with 10x fewer impurities, like the wonderfully named phellandrene, which apparently ain’t so great for gin.

What does this mean for your martini?  Probably not much right now.  Creating that scale of vacuum and low temperature on an commercial scale may not be very practical.  But it might not be too long before we see some “small batch” gins made by vacuum distillation.  That might be one that I add to the house collection!

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10 thoughts on “The Intersection of Two of My Favorite Things: Science and Gin

  1. Science fiction writers have always been lauding the benefits of space's vacuum and temperatures. One of the main bumper-crops expected on the [future] Moon Habitats is distilled alcohol. Talk about literal "moonshine"!!!Looking forward to hearing your Blackbird Orange recipe…

  2. I'd never thought about the fact that space would be a great place to set up a still! Though imagine the potential negative impact of drinking and driving your spaceship!

  3. Now I'm a bit nervous. I went away for the weekend and my father in law got into my my gin and declared Bombay to be far, far, far superior to Hendricks. I'm trying to decide if I should just enjoy a nice glass or cold gin to compare them or maybe open that bottle of vermouth that's been collecting dust in the cabinet…

  4. They are definitely different. Hendricks really goes for a much more heavily aromatic flavor than Sapphire, which is a lot smoother. I would make a couple of cold-cold martinis side-by-side and see which one you like better.

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