T500 Gin

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T500 Gin

Postby mcfly » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:48 pm

I've been googling my arse off for the last 6 months or so to try to work out how to vapour infuse gin in the T-500 instead of relying on essences to flavour it.

What I found is there isn't much out there (or at least I couldn't find much) about using a gin basket in the T500, because a reflux still (with fractionating column) is basically designed to strip flavour out, not let it through in the distillation process. One thread I found [http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=41473] describes how to remove all the T500's ceramic saddles from the column, and pack a basket into the column itself in place of the saddles, packed as high as possible. The thread author points out that there is a big tendency for over-heating the T500 (in his words "dicing with death"), and I wasn't too keen to dice with that method myself.

So I started kicking around the idea of simply making and tying a gin basket immediately underneath the bottom of the fractionating column and it's making a really nice gin. No nasty flavours -- it's balanced and subtle with an authentic gin flavour. So I'm now 4 batches into a method that seems pretty safe and is also turning out a pretty good gin. I'm surprised I couldn't find anything out there which was based on this method, so thought I'd share it in case it helps anyone.

Recipe

First, the recipe I've settled on (so far) is as follows:

    Juniper berries, dried, 3 tablespoons
    Green Cardamon pods, crushed, 6 pods
    Coriander, 1 teaspoon whole, plus 1 teaspoon ground (in mortar and pestle)
    Cinnamon,1/4 stick, crushed/broken into small pieces
    Dried Lemon Myrtle leaf, 1/2 heaped teaspoon
    Star Anise, 1 star, broke into 4 or 5 pieces
    Dried Angelica Root pieces, 1 teaspoon
    Dried Mountain Pepper leaf, 1/2 teaspoon
    Dried Lavender, 1 and a half heaped teaspoons
    Orange, sliced into 8ths, but use only 4 pieces (just throw the 4 x slices in, with both peel and flesh, don't be afraid of the pith)

**This recipe works a treat if used with approx 2.5L of 92% clean spirit, diluted back to 30%, run at 50 degrees outlet temperature on the T500.**

Overall Process

In regards to the actual process: buying 2 x sieves plus all the actual botanicals is the only hard part. Once you have these, follow the 3 simple steps below.

    1. make a gin basket
    2. tie the basket immediately below fractionating column (beneath the locking nut)
    3. distill a good neutral with botanicals in basket

Detailed explanation

1. Make a gin basket:
I decided to make a gin basket out of two stainless steel sieves. I bought the sieves from an organic greengrocers and providore shop for about $12 each. The key thing I was looking for was that each sieve was stainless steel and had a deep hemispherical shape, rather than a shallow dish shape. This was because when I joined them together to form a ball, I wanted to make a proper spherical/ball shaped basked to fit the maximum amount of botanicals in the basket.

[I need to work out how to upload photos, then I'll add some pics throughout this thread]

I use stainless steel fencing crimps to join the two halves together, in four places. This holds it together tightly, and I remove the crimps with pliers after each run. For my last run I decided to snap off the sieve handles to remove the useless and excess weight.

2. Tie basket in place below column:
Suspend the top half beneath the inlet to the column, as close as possible to the inlet. The T-500 has a locking nut at the base with a large cross pieces built into the base of the nut to hold the ceramic saddles in place. All I use is galvanised tie wire, loop it through the upper mesh of the topmost sieve and tie it to the locking nut. I then spin the sieve in the same direction about 20 or 30 times until the wire braids itself and raises itself up and almost sits flush against the lock nut.

The key thing I was trying to do here was get the botanicals as high as possible, so the gin infused vapour formed when the alcohol vapour passes through the top of the basket can only go up. If the basket was lower, I was worried that the vapour could condense on the T500 lid and fall back into the wash and therefore lose flavour. I wasn't sure how well the gin-infused vapour would go through the column, but with the quantities in the recipe above, it actually comes out nicely.

[I'll insert a pic of what the basket looks like]

It's important to realise the bottom half of the basket needs to be removable -- it doesn't need to be attached yet, as you need to pack the botanicals. I leave the top half in place for all my neutral runs, and only fit the full basket together on my final gin run.

3. Distill with botanicals:
I complete 2-3 neutral runs to get my neutral as clean as possible, all from a TPW wash. Lately I'm favouring 3 runs at 58-60 degrees outlet temperature, which seems a good balance of fast and reasonably clean. 3 runs seems best for my still, as 2 runs still leaves a slight background taste that I don't like. I dilute down to 30% for any subsequent run from the original TPW wash.

On runs 1 to 3, I discard fore-shots only, and only on the 4th & final gin-basket run do I set aside the heads and tails. The hearts are awesome.

On my final (4th) run, I prepare and mix my botanicals immediately before distilling, wrap all botanicals in muslin cloth (to keep any particles from falling in the boiler), place the muslin cloth bundle in the bottom half of the basket, and then join the two halves together using my crimps. See photos below.

[photos of botanicals]

I distill this final run at a lower 50 degrees outlet temperature, this is a bit slower than my earlier runs, but I want the best quality in the alcohol, and want to ensure that all flavours have time to come through.

Summary:

The end result is pretty good -- see top of thread for my current recipe. The easier part was settling on which botanicals I wanted in the recipe (Dr Google helped), the hard part was deciding the actual quantities.

The problem I thought I would have, is that the recipes on the net are not aimed at reflux stills. If a reflux still strips flavour out, I was worried that only a small fraction of flavour would actually come through and I would need to play with the quantities of each botanical over and over again. That's how it turned out, I had to play with quantities.

Part way through my first gin run, I thought I'd failed, because I couldn't smell any real gin aroma aroma. I think i was 500 mls in at this stage. I finished the run however, and was surprised the find that the aroma and flavour had indeed come through, and that what I had collected actually smelt (and tasted!!) like gin. It wasn't perfect, and not strong enough, so next batch I doubled everything, thinking I would progressively halve or double every batch until I bracketed the right flavour, and then keep halving away from too strong or too weak on each successive run. Batch 2 was too strong, so I dropped every ingredient by 50% of the previous increase. Batch 3 too strong, so I dropped back by 50% again. By the time I got the flavour right, I was actually only 25% in ingredient quantity from where I started. My original "too weak" recipe was actually only 25% away from my "good" recipe by the 4th batch.

I dilute the final gin spirit back to 40% of course.

The end result is that I'm pretty bloody happy that I have smooth 40% gin, that tastes in my opinion as good as a decent gin. You definitely wouldn't raise your eyebrows if I poured you one from a standard bottle of Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire and I didn't tell you it was from the T500. It's not Four Pillars or West Winds, but it's nice.

If there are any T500 gin fans out there, please try this recipe if it sounds up your alley, and let me know what you think of the end result . . . I guess I'll tinker with the recipe over the years, but this is a pretty good base to start from. Let me know if you come up with any magic in the actual recipe itself.

[Finally, I'm a numpty in here and haven't cracked the code to upload photos. As soon as I can work it out I'll add some]
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby rumdidlydum » Tue Jun 23, 2015 9:08 pm

Well done. Great write up and explained. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
Their is one thing i would change it probably wont bother most but im not most people. If you grabed some old heavy duty 240v copper wire and remove a couple of strands to tie the basket or used ssteel tie wire.
Also the plastic issue is an inherent problem that will eventually rear its head
But all in all great trials and thanks for posting
:-B
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby mcfly » Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:59 pm

rumdidlydum wrote:Their is one thing i would change it probably wont bother most but im not most people. If you grabed some old heavy duty 240v copper wire and remove a couple of strands to tie the basket or used ssteel tie wire.
Also the plastic issue is an inherent problem that will eventually rear its head
:-B


rumdidlydum: thanks very much for the feedback. Good idea for the copper wire, I did have a nagging concern about the galvanised tie wire, so if I don't go with stainless steel I'll definitely swap out for copper.

And yeah . . . that plastic is waiting to hurt me, just when I think I've finally got the T500 humming a little bit. Bought it when I didn't know anything. :crying-blue:

Next project is working on the missus to let me consume 10 years' worth of Xmas presents all at once on a proper still. Her response so far has been neutral at best :violence-smack:
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby mcfly » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:12 pm

mcfly wrote: [I need to work out how to upload photos, then I'll add some pics throughout this thread]

I think I've almost worked out the photo thing. Here goes:

IMG_8089.JPG

IMG_7982.JPG

IMG_7984.JPG

IMG_7992.JPG

IMG_8088.JPG


Sorry I can't fix the rotation of some of the pics. They're right way round on my PC but when I attach them, some have rotated left 90 degrees
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Thinking about getting a real still -- just need a new house or biger garage to fit it in

Re: T500 Gin

Postby rumdidlydum » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:59 pm

Well done mate. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
I think you have opened up a new world for t500 owners.
Untill things get hot.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Boardy62 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:36 pm

Running one of these now mostly as per recipee I added rose buds petals and grevillea florets as well I am up to jar 19 and what comes off the still is amazing I look foreword to blending these at the end and certainly entertaining tasting what's is coming out at various times of the run :handgestures-thumbupleft:
In the t500 boiler I put 5 litres 1st run Tpw and rest BWKO spirit run,all at 30 %abv total 12 ltrs washmy still will not run at lower than 60 it just stops so has been sitting 61/63 bottom temp most of the run.give it a go don't wait it's great :music-deathmetal:
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Banga81 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:06 pm

Can't wait to try this out. Whats that little basket thing called and where do i buy one?
Cheers
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby RC Al » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:04 am

It's a tea or herb infuser ball
Most kitchen, cheapie shops and department stores carry them in various sizes and the usual auction sites

Largest I've seen is 15cm
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Arismac » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:08 pm

This is ideal and costs $6.05 on eBay.

Use a little copper wire to fix the lid/cap firmly to the nut at the base of the column. It is easier to fix the basket to the nut first and then slide a spanner in between basket and nut to make sure the nut is properly tightened. Don't over do it ...

Image
Last edited by Arismac on Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Arismac » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:33 pm

It just occurred to me that filling the basket with copper saddles for the first run would add a further sulphur trap. I will try and let you know.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Rolls912 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:29 pm

You could buy the t5 infuser basket. Screws into the bottom of the column. Works well. About $60.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Professor Green » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:04 am

I think that T500 infuser basket forces all of the vapour to travel through the botanicals which, I would think, has to give better results than suspending a tea ball below the column.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Arismac » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:41 am

I agree entirely. Thank you, I was unaware of the T500 infuser basket until now. I shall order immediately. I will also try adding copper saddles for the first run.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Arismac » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:51 am

When did Andrew say he would be back at work from Kuta?
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Professor Green » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:24 pm

18th Feb I think.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Arismac » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:29 pm

Thanks
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Rolls912 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:30 pm

Arismac, you can have mine if you haven’t already bought it.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Fat Albert » Wed May 01, 2019 6:06 am

Rolls912 wrote:Arismac, you can have mine if you haven’t already bought it.


And why is that? Decided you don't like gin or did you find a deficiency with the basket?
I bought one and am now trying to figure out how to adapt it to the bottom of my HomeMade 2 inch
copper reflux.
Does anyone know the size and thread of the screw in part of the basket? I suspect it's metric.

fat A.
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Sam. » Wed May 01, 2019 7:20 am

Fat Albert wrote:
Rolls912 wrote:Arismac, you can have mine if you haven’t already bought it.


And why is that? Decided you don't like gin or did you find a deficiency with the basket?
I bought one and am now trying to figure out how to adapt it to the bottom of my HomeMade 2 inch
copper reflux.
Does anyone know the size and thread of the screw in part of the basket? I suspect it's metric.

fat A.


Gday mate, how about dropping into the welcome center for an intro, that way we can best help you achieve what you want :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: T500 Gin

Postby Rolls912 » Wed May 01, 2019 11:18 pm

Fat Albert wrote:
Rolls912 wrote:Arismac, you can have mine if you haven’t already bought it.


And why is that? Decided you don't like gin or did you find a deficiency with the basket?
I bought one and am now trying to figure out how to adapt it to the bottom of my HomeMade 2 inch
copper reflux.
Does anyone know the size and thread of the screw in part of the basket? I suspect it's metric.

fat A.


The basket isn’t big enough and therefore doesn’t impart enough flavour. I would recommend steeping the JB to make room for other botanicals.i also moved onto a larger still.
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