We’re now delving deep into the chemistry of distilling with terpenes. These are aromatic molecules that help to build the aroma and flavour profile of a gin (or, indeed, anything we eat or drink).
“The word itself is a derivation of the word turpentine, a fluid distilled from the resin of pine trees which, unsurprisingly, has an intense pine aroma from a high alpha-pinene content. The name was later extended to tens of thousands of molecules that have a similar chemical structure. They are further subclassified by the number of carbons. Alpha-pinene and others with 10 carbons are called monoterpenes. Cubebenes, the molecules responsible for the flavour of cubeb pepper, have 15 carbons and are classified as sesquiterpenes.”
Common terpenes in gin (and their common aromatic notes) include:
- Alpha-pinene (pine, turpentine)
- Sabinene (pepper, wood, turpentine)
- Myrcene (balsamic, must, and spice)
- Limonene (citrus and mint)
- Linalool (floral, lavender)