Pot distillation is one of the oldest methods used in gin-making (and other spirits like whisky). This involves heating a big pot filled with a neutral spirit and botanicals – sometimes after mascerating or steeping for several hours. The vapour produced by the heating process is then rapidly cooled and turned back into a liquid (also known as condensing), and collected in a separate container. This method is like putting the kettle on to make gin, except we’re catching the steam, and turning that back into a liquid, after the botanicals have make it tastier!
Also known as vapour infusion, column distillation is a more modern method that uses a tall column filled with a series of mesh plates or trays. The alcohol vapours flow through a basket of botanicals to take on flavour. As it travels on through the column, it’s repeatedly heated and vaporised to purify. The vapour is then condensed, and comes out as a super strong gin. This method is great for delicate oils and botanicals that may be destroyed if boiled for long periods of time in alcohol, which is why columns are a common addition to hybrid stills. This method is like a fancy gin-making skyscraper, with each level refining the spirit and making it more pure.