Home distilling with seasonal fruit is a great way to experiment with new flavours and distilling techniques, as well as making the most of what your region has to offer.
It’s Autumn in little old New Zealand right now, heralding the cooler Winter months, but also bringing with it an abundance of feijoas. As is typical in New Zealand, everyone knows someone with a feijoa tree, and we quickly found ourselves with so much of the delicious fruit that there was no way we’d be able to eat it all. So of course, we just had to distill with it.
Powerfully fragrant, citrusy, and flowery, the taste and aroma of a feijoa is very distinct, and we wanted to capture that in our creations.
We just happened to have 80 L of Mangrove Jack’s Apple Cider, kegged and begging to be used and decided we’d pair these beauties up to experiment with a feijoa gin.
Using the Still Spirits Alembic Pot Still, we distilled the cider in a stripping run. We collected all the distillate from 70% ABV down to 30% ABV which left us with 14 L of spirit at approximately 50% ABV. Because we had so much spirit, we decided to split it into two batches and make two different gins!
Here’s what we did for each experimental batch:
Gin #1: Botanical Infusion with Dehydrated Feijoa
- We dehydrated the peel and thin slices of flesh of a few feijoas in a home dehydrator.
- Poured a bag of the Still Spirits London Dry Gin Botanical Blend into our Still Spirits Botanical Basket, then topped this with 20 g of dehydrated feijoa and about a tablespoon of fresh feijoa zest and attached the botanical basket to our Alembic Dome.
- Added 7 L of the stripping run alcohol to our boiler and topped the boiler up to 20 L with water.
- Attached the Alembic Dome and condenser to the boiler and turned it on. Once the temperature reached 55°C (131°F), we turned on the cooling water.
- We discarded the first 100 mL of foreshots and while monitoring the ABV, started collecting the heads portion of the distillate until it reached 65% ABV.
- In a separate container, we collected the hearts portion of the distillate up to 45% ABV which left us with 3.5 L at 55% ABV.
- In another container, we collected the remaining distillate (tails) up to 30% ABV.
- We didn't combine any of the heads or tails with our hearts and just diluted our 3.5 L of 55% ABV hearts down to 40% ABV with filtered water. This is because we wanted to achieve a gin base as clean as possible, so the botanicals and feijoa notes really shone through.
Tasting notes: This gin has a very subtle feijoa aroma profile, with complex notes of apple, however, the London Dry Botanical blend was tough for the feijoa and apple flavours to compete with. This is very much a London Dry gin with notes of citrus, juniper, finishing dry on the palate.
Gin #2: Fresh Feijoa Maceration
- We added 1.5 kg of feijoa flesh to 7 L of the stripping run distillate and left this to soak overnight.
- Poured a bag of the Still Spirits London Dry Gin Botanical Blend into our botanical basket and attached the Still Spirits Botanical Basket to our Alembic Dome.
- Added 7 L of the stripping run alcohol (including the feijoa flesh) to our boiler and topped the boiler up to 20 L with water.
- Followed steps 4 through to 8 from our first gin.
Tasting notes: This gin has a much stronger feijoa flavour and aroma profile than the infused gin, as well as a more prominent feijoa and apple flavour. Whilst it is very much a London Dry style with clean citrus and juniper, this gin finishes a little sweeter than the infused gin.
Overall, we’re pretty happy with how these gins turned out! If we were to trial these methods again, we would probably look to incorporate some fresh citrus in the botanical blend to really let the feijoa and citrus shine through.
Have you ever distilled with feijoas? Let us know what you've made in the comments!