At Gintime we’ve been around a few distilleries in our time – whisky and whiskey ones, rum ones and of course gin ones but we’ve never seen anything like the Caorunn Gin distilling process. It’s a form of closely vapour /infusion distillation, ie the same way Bombay Sapphire and a percentage of Hendrick’s Gin is made. But where those gins use more traditional shaped stills with specially constructed botanicals baskets, Caorunn does it completely differently.
First of all a high quality neutral grain spirit is vaporised in a conventional almost Dutch style copper still. In vapour form the spirit then travels through to the Berry Chamber, a Heath Robinson looking contraption that was built in the 1920s and originally used to extract fusel oils when distilling perfumes. It is a round horizontal chamber with a copper frame (copper is used in the distillation of spirits because it removes sulphur and unwanted compounds) and it contains four large horizontally positioned trays. Caorunn’s eleven botanicals are spread on these trays in such a way as to allow the spirit vapour to pick up the broadest range of flavours over the widest possible area.
Caorunn distillation is a slow process – it takes four hours to distil 1000 litres of spirit into gin but as the old adage goes: “good things come to those who wait”. Certainly this particular method of distillation allows the aromatic notes of the six classic gin botanicals – juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel, angelica and cassia bark – to be deeply imbedded in the spirit. At the same time the more elusive, fragrant notes of the Celtic botanicals – rowan berries, could blush apple, bog myrtle, heather and dandelion leaf – are captured and held. Those Speyside distillers, they do know what they are doing.