After being down over the past weekend with some kind of virus that is somehow still managing to kick my ass I’m feeling at least well enough to share a short little Alchemist Cabinet blog with my distilling brothers and sisters. This one is yet another botanical distillation recipe similar to the “My God is the Sun” Curacao I posted about recently. It’s a bit too expensive to make as a production spirit considering the “alternative” artificially flavored cinnamon spirits already on the market (and the niche of low price buyers they cater to) but is fantastic to have on hand for cocktails or sharing with friends.
“Hell, Aint a Bad Place to Be”
Cinnamon in pot 75 gm per gal
Ceylon in Pot 25 gm per gal
Cinnamon in Gin Basket 18 gm per gal
Ceylon in Basket 6 gm Per Gallon
Vanilla bean 3 gm per gallon
Cardamom .04 gm per gallon
Grains of Paradise .04 gm per gallon
Cayenne .08 gm per gallon
Licorice root 2 gm per gallon
Black pepper .04 gm per gallon
Nutmeg .04 gm per gallon
This distillation can be run using either Grain Neutral Spirits or Whiskey. My preference is rye whiskey as the base which really lets the spiciness of the rye distillate stand up and allows some wonderful interplay between the rye and the botanical elements to take place. I originally devised this recipe as an alternative and natural version of the popular cinnamon spirits already on the market, subsequently glycol need not apply as a flavoring agent. I won’t say that it stands as firmly on the over the top flavor as the synthetic stuff out there but it holds its own fight in a more refined way.
Start off with a finished rye whiskey, that is, one which has been stripped and doubled. If you macerate into low wines you will lose the lower boiling flavor constituents of the botanicals to the heads fraction of your distillate. Macerate all botanicals not otherwise notated as being in a gin basket in 7o proof ethanol in the still for 18-24 hours. If at all possible bring the still to 100 degrees during the first hour of this maceration processes (this is called “digestion”) by the way. After maceration distill the spirit (no heads cut needed) and redirect the vapor through your gin basket and collect until you reach tails (usually around 95 proof with this spirit in my experience) and drop the proof of the hearts slowly over a couple of days (the slower the better as to avoid saponification from the oils of the botanicals falling out of solution). From here you can proof to taste and sweeten to taste with simple syrup if you like. It took me a while to get this one “right” as I was really having a hard time getting that cinnamon disc candy flavor, I finally figured out that flavor was a combination of three flavors; Cinnamon, Ceylon, and Cayenne pepper in a certain proportion. The licorice is not there as flavor but as a flavor “glue” as it were. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin which is sweeter than sugar (creating aromas in distillation suggestive to the gastronomic tract via aroma precursors of sweetness) and which creates a creamy mouthfeel. Nowadays it’s inclusion in legal distillation is regulated by the FDA which sets an upper limit to it’s use as it can affect sodium-potassium levels which you should be aware of and educate yourself about. Hope you enjoy!