Martin Miller's Gin
On his quest for perfection, Martin Miller insisted that all botanicals were selected on a quality first basis, not solely on regional provenance. This was a principle he applied to the sourcing of all his ingredients. This obsession with creating the highest quality gin applied equally to its distillation.
First and foremost he demanded that a traditional copper pot still, one of sufficient size to guarantee consistency of quality be found. Further, he demanded only the heart of the spirit be used. Heads and tails were to be discarded.
The ‘heart’ is that part of the distillation where the spirit runs from the still clear and pure, rich in ethyl alcohol and delicious aromatic volatiles, but lacking unwanted impurities. Heads – simply put – are the first twenty minutes or so of spirit expelled from the still while it splutters and coughs into life, often spitting out methanol, acetone, plus a variety of esters and aldehydes.
Nothing you would want in your gin.
The tails on the other hand are the last knockings as the still wheezes out it’s last offerings of congeners and fatty oils. Spotting and selecting the ‘heart’ is one of the master distillers most important skills.
Re-distillation of heads and tails, as is commonly practiced, was forbidden by Martin.
However, the onset of a certain familiarity with the alchemy of gin distillation awakened his adventurous side. This would lead him to experiment. Looking for what he considered a ‘better balance’ to his gin, Martin decided ‘to shuffle the cards’.
It occurred to him that by distilling the same botanicals, but in different combinations, then blending them together in a variety of proportions gave him much greater control over the final gin’s balance. At the time, of course, Martin didn’t realise he was breaking the rules laid down by the gin Taliban. But then he’d always believed rules were put in place for the precise purpose of being broken.
All he cared was that his final combination of a distillate strongly reliant on citrus, when combined with a second distillation lacking any citrus elements, gave his gin an excellent balance. Juniper was still dominant – as it should be in any halfway decent gin – but a citrus freshness was allowed to shine through.
The result? Martin Miller’s Original Gin.
Fortunately no Fatwa was issued.