For many, the phrase "homemade gin" may conjure up images of bathtub distilleries during Prohibition, and rotgut stuff not really fit for human consumption. Sarah Maiellano and her husband Joe see it differently. They're the folks behind The HomeMade Gin Kit, a package that transforms your self-supplied vodka into gin. It's a lot safer than actually distilling at home, and legal, too.
The $50 kit includes a tin of juniper berries, and one of mixed botanicals, plus 250 mL and 500 mL glass swing-top bottles, a fine strainer, and a plastic funnel, all in a gift box. That price seems high to us. If you already have the tools on hand, or are ready for a refill, the cost for new spices and juniper is only $10, and that's the way to go. It's cheaper to buy your own bottles, such as Ikea's Korken, and the funnel and strainer may already be hanging around your kitchen, but as a collection, it makes a nice gift set.
The process for making the gin couldn't be easier. Grab your 750mL of vodka—"Something midrange works well. Smirnoff is usually what we use," says Maiellano—add the juniper berries, and give it a good shake. After 24 hours, do the same thing with the botanicals. In 12 more hours, it's ready to be strained into the bottles and consumed.
It's kind of a cool process, but we were more concerned about how the final result tastes. And thankfully, it's pretty good! The herbaceous botanicals, including coriander, rosemary, lavender, fennel, and Tellicherry black pepper, are very strong, resulting in a spicy gin; don't go into it expecting something as smooth and refined as, say, Hendrick's. That's not a bad thing though; this is a greenish-yellow gin with some vivid flavor, ready to stand up to your favorite tonic (or your own homemade version, now that you're all into DIY.)
This isn't the right gift for a mixology enthusiast who is already making six kinds of homemade bitters, but for someone looking to dip a toe into making their own custom cocktail ingredients, the HomeMade Gin Kit is a fun introduction.
Testing sample provided for review consideration.