Cold compounding is a method for making gin which dates back hundreds of years. However, it was not until the 1920s that the now common name for this production method ‘bathtub gin’ was born.
Gins are made using a neutral grain spirit base that has already been distilled. For gins described as London Dry or Distilled, the next stage in this process is for the chosen botanicals (which must include juniper) to be added to the base spirit. These can either be placed directly into the still or placed above the spirit in a botanical basket. The spirit is then redistilled at a high temperature.
However, the second stage of distillation is omitted when making a compound gin. Instead, the botanicals are added to the neutral grain spirit and left to infuse over time in a large vessel at room temperature. The spirit is then filtered and diluted with water to bring it down to the desired bottling strength. In order to be classified as a gin, the strength must be above 37.5 ABV.
As they are left to infuse at room temperature, these gins are often known as cold compound gins. The other popular name for this method of production is bathtub gin. This term was adopted during Prohibition in America in the 1920s as illicit producers found that the tin or ceramic bathtubs which were around at the time were the perfect size for making batches of gin.
Generally, compound gins are considered to be of a poorer quality than London Dry or Distilled gins. However, this is not necessarily the case, and with high quality natural ingredients and the skill of the producer to balance flavours, there are many great cold compound gins available to buy.
Scottish Compound Gins
Having started their gin making journey with a ‘make your own gin kit’ and progressing to commercially making gin in their living room cupboard, the McLean’s Gin range is all made by cold compounding (with the exception of their limited releases which are distilled at a local distillery). The gin is made using natural ingredients in a ‘gin lab’ beside the owner and Head Ginologist’s house. The range includes Something Blue, Cherry Bakewell, Floral, Citrus and Spiced gins as well as some tasting gift packs.