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The science of alcohol
The science of alcohol

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5.2 Other botanical flavourings

The juniper in gin can be complemented by a wide range of other botanicals to bring many more flavour molecules into the mix. Different distillers use different mixtures of botanicals to flavour their gin and these recipes are closely guarded secrets by each distillery!

There are potentially hundreds of different botanicals which could be added to gin but one of the more common botanicals may surprise you. Coriander seeds, more usually associated with Indian cuisine, are commonly added to many gin formulations.

A compound known as linalool (Figure 7a) is the major component of coriander seed essential oil and is one of the most volatile components of gin to which coriander seeds have been added. Linalool imparts a woody, spicy tone to the gin. Geranyl acetate (Figure 7b) is another coriander-derived compound often found in gin and is used to give a more floral aroma and taste. Other compounds, such as polyphenols, for example, impart a citrus flavour into the gin from the coriander seed.

Described image
Figure 7 Coriander-derived (a) linalool and (b) geranyl acetate flavourings
  • What do you notice about the structure of linalool?

  • Linalool possesses an −OH functional group and hence, like ethanol, is an example of an alcohol.

Other botanicals that are used in some varieties of gin include anise, angelica, almonds, cinnamon, cassia root and nutmeg, amongst many others. All of these can add their own flavour compounds to the mixture, resulting in a complex cocktail of flavours. Like most other alcoholic beverages, no single brand of gin will have the same chemical composition as another. The Cotswold Distillery uses coriander seed, angelica root, lavender, bay leaf, hand-peeled fresh lime, pink grapefruit zest, cardamom and black peppercorn in their copper still to formulate their unique gin. Next, you will learn a little more about why this is – bearing in mind of course that the exact recipe used by the Cotswold Distillery is a closely guarded secret!