Ever wondered what is bathtub gin? Contrary to its name, it isn’t actually made in a bathtub! However, The name instead refers to the watering down processes of the base spirit since it was disgusting on its own!
Historically bathtub gin has a reputation for being poor quality, foul-tasting homemade spirit that originated from peoples desperation to drink alcohol during Prohibition!
What actually is bathtub gin?
As reference above, bathtub gins humble beginning originated from the Prohibition period. Consequently, moonshiners began to distil their own neutral grain spirit (to learn more click here) but the taste was unpleasant and potent.
Therefore in order to make it more palatable, they began to add herbs, fruit and basically anything they could get their hands on. These additions were then left to soak in the spirit to allow the flavours to infuse.
If you’re wondering why a bathtub is mentioned at all, it’s down to hiding the bottles! The bottles were too tall to fit under the sink and so the bathtub was used instead!
The History of Bath tub Gin
Digging deeper into the history of bathtub gin, the term seems to have first been used in 1920, in America.
Gin was the main drink at that time and a huge amount of variants began to pop up. This was down to the poor quality of cheap grain alcohol. Everything from juniper berries through to glycerin was being added to cover the taste of the inferior spirit.
Hiding the huge amounts that were being produced from the police was tricky and people have since assumed that metal bathtubs were used as storage and infusing vessels. This is likely to be untrue however since the distillation vessel would need to have been closed in order to work.
Interesting, many gin cocktails were created originally for bathtub gin in order to hide the unpleasant taste.
Fast forward to the future and bathtub gins usually prefer to be called compound gins.
Make your own bathtub Gin
Creating your own bathtub gin is a doddle and fun to do. Before we get started it’s important to know the law. This article is purely written for information. Distilling any spirit in the UK requires licenses and registration with HMRC. Just to be extra clear – Distilling alcohol (including gin) is illegal in the UK. Emma, Joe and Springmount Spirits cannot be held responsible for the actions taken by any individuals not acting within the parameters of the law. Now that’s out the way let’s get on with the article.
- The first ingredient is vodka. Choose one that you like to drink neat and not necessarily the cheapest bottle you can find. No amount of botanicals will be able to hide a bad tasting vodka. Look for a high proof too.
- Choose the botanicals. Obviously, juniper is the main ingredient but after that, the choice is truly yours.
- Store your compounds in a mason jar each. Typically juniper berries require about a day and other botanicals between 1 – 3 days. The idea is the additional ingredients add subtle flavour as opposed to a stronger overarching taste.
- Lastly, strain and enjoy. Remember your creations will have colour and possible bits in them. True gin is clear due to the distillation process.
Easy Bathtub Gin Recipe
Follow this recipe to create a basic compound gin.
- 700ml bottle of vodka
- 2 tbsp juniper berries
- 6 cardamom pods
- pinch dried rose petals
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- lemon peel to taste
- Open the bottle of vodka and add the rest of the ingredients. For a stronger flavour, it’s a good idea to bruise the cardamom pods and juniper berries in a pestle and mortar first. Put the lid back on the bottle and leave it in a cool dark place for 24 hrs.
- Strain the infused mixture into a jug through a sieve lined with coffee filter paper, then pour it back into the bottle to store. Will keep for months in a cool dark place. Use as you would any gin, so great with tonic or in a martini.
Once you have this basic recipe down experiment with fruit to create fruit infused compound gin. The sky is the limit!
London Dry Gin
A quick note about London Dry gins! Only London Dry gins follow a strict set of laws to ensure quality, uniform and flavour. Nothing is allowed to added after distillation so you have to get it right the first time! We are incredibly proud that each and every one of our gins are London Dry Gin.
London Dry gin is subject to its own set of requirements which must be followed in order to use the term “London Dry”
To paraphrase Section 21.a of Regulation 2019/787 of the EU regulations put in place in Feb 2008, the gin needs to be made with a base spirit of agricultural origin.
These base spirits also need to be distilled to an “initial alcohol strength of at least 96%”. London Dry Gin also needs to be (re) distilled to at least 70%ABV. Watering the gin down is permitted (thank goodness!) and must be above 37.5%. Any gins under this ABV are not legally allowed to be called London Dry Gin.
Strawberry and Raspberry Gin
The berry gin! This is the only one of our gins that is not suitable for vegans. Many people expect this gin to be overly sweet or sickly. Unfortunately with the rise of pink gins, has also led to more sweeteners and artificial flavours being added to gins.
Since our Strawberry and Raspberry Gin doesn’t contain sugar, we have added a touch of honey to lift the delicate berry flavours.
When fruits are distilled, only the oils are released as opposed to the sweetness of the fruit. This can often have some distillers reaching for some flavouring in an attempt to regain the sweetness.
Often this results in a rather sickly sweet drink. Our Strawberry and Raspberry gin tastes delicately sweet without any nasties added.
Lavender and Lemongrass Gin
Springmount’s most unusual gin! Lavender is notoriously difficult to distil. Perhaps this is why the majority of gin brands stay away from it.
If lavender is distilled incorrectly, the gin tastes soapy and not at all pleasant. We had lots of fun creating our Lavender and Lemongrass gin. It’s such an unusual combination and the first-ever pairing in gin!
Light, refreshing and amazing with prosecco!
Mint and Lime Gin
Our Mint and Lime gin is a gin with a twist. The flavours of Mint and Lime has been expertly balanced to confirm with being juniper led. However the full taste and mint and lime are also dominant.
The overall effect is a mojito tasting gin that contains no sugar, sweeteners or flavourings. Each and every ingredient is natural.
Drink with tonic or turn it into a mojito with some soda water!
From Bathtub to Kitchen
The increasing popularity of gins has seen rise to compounding gins being referred to as bathtub gin. We hope you have enjoyed our post!