Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

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Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:26 am

What is a Soxhlet? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soxhlet_extractor
What is a Gin Basket? https://homedistiller.org/wiki/index.php/Gin_basket

What do they do?

Soxhlets, Gin Baskets, and Maceration are use to extract flavors from botanicals, spices, and other materials by using a solvent (alcohol and/or water). The difference is how each one works. For this discussion I will only use the word botanical(s) to refer to the all materials being extracted. It's just easier. Also this post is a generalization of the processes. There are cases that don't fit the norm I do not address. If you know of one of these cases please post up.

What's the difference in how do they work?

Gin Basket - (AKA Vapor Infusion) Alcohol is sent through a still the same as normal. The Gin Basket is placed inline or offset in the vapor path of the still. If the basket is placed in line the reflux from the basket will drain back into the boiler. In an offset setup the reflux is collected separately from the finished product and not sent back from to the boiler. A gin run with a gin basket is the same as a regular spirit run on a still. There are cuts like normal. The finished product comes out the condenser.

Soxhlet - Alcohol is repeatedly washed over the botanicals to extract flavor and color that is collected back in the boiler. The alcohol is then revaporized and then washed over the botanicals again. This is repeats for as long as the users wants to do so. Normally it is done until there is no more color being removed from the botanicals. As none of the alcohol is lost from the system it can go on for hours. There are no cuts. The finished product will be in the boiler.

Maceration - Soak the botanicals in an alcohol solution for X days/weeks. This method has the advantage of using lower ABV solutions to help extract flavors that are water soluble but not alcohol soluble.

Why use one vs the other? Will it taste different using the same materials in both?

The flavors and color will vary from one to the other. Soxhlets and maceration will extract color where a gin basket will not. The flavors may vary depending on the botanical. It depends on the chemicals that create the flavor of a botanical. Soxhlet and maceration will generally extract a wider range of flavors than a gin basket. You can think of both as quick way to extract flavor from a botanical versus having to spend days/weeks macerating botanicals.

A gin basket will ONLY collect materials that are volatile in the normal range of a run (room temp to 212F). This is why gin comes out CLEAR. You'll get flavors but no color is volatile. The alcohol helps extract soluble materials and then the heat vaporizes it. Alcohol can also reduce the boiling temp of some materials so that they do come over into the distillate.

A soxhlet will extract insoluble, soluble, and volatile and nonvolatile substances. It does this a couple of ways.
  • Insoluble and nonvolatile: First - powder/dust that is insoluble and nonvolatile substances can be physically removed from the botanicals as the alcohol washes over it. If you look up images of a soxhlet you'll see cotton at the bottom of the soxhlet. This is to help prevent this type of physical debris from being returned to the boiler. These are flavors/materials that would NOT come over via a gin basket.
  • Soluble but nonvolatile: These materials will dissolve in alcohol/water. They will be carried over by the solvent washing over the botanicals. These are flavors/materials that would NOT come over via a gin basket.
  • Insoluble and volatile: These materials are not soluble by alcohol or water but are volatile in the normal operating temp of a still. These are flavors/materials that would NOT come over via a gin basket.
  • Soluble and volatile: These materials are the "normal" flavor/materials that come over in a distillation.
Maceration will yield the same results as a soxhlet. It will extract insoluble, soluble, and volatile and nonvolatile substances. For maceration insoluble and nonvolatile materials are removed with a filter (normally coffee filter) if desired. Three distinct advantages of maceration - it's very low cost as all you need are some jars, some botanicals do not do well with heat, and you can extract water soluble flavors better.

Which one should I use?

So this isn't an easy question. You really have 3 options. Maceration, soxhlet, and gin basket. All there do the same basic thing - extract flavor. So what should you use? Try these questions:
  • What do you want your finished product to look like? Clear? Go gin basket. Colored? Go soxhlet or macerate.
  • Do you want a wider deeper character? Go soxhlet or macerate.
  • Want quick results? Gin basket or soxhlet.
  • Have sensitive botanicals? Macerate.
  • Don't want to spend money? Macerate.
In the end there is no best way. They all achieve somewhat similar results, it's a matter of what is optimal for you to achieve the product you want.
Last edited by Single Malt Yinzer on Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:05 pm

Single Malt Yinzer wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:26 am
A gin run with a gin basket is the same as a regular spirit run on a still. There are cuts like normal.
Not in my shed. If you want to make fine gin, the heads and tails should have already been cut from the spirit you are using for the gin run.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Berserk » Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:07 pm

Excellent write up!

I've been curious as to how soxhleting works and what the pros and cons of it are, so this was very enlightning.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Saltbush Bill » Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:23 pm

Newbiies shouldn't take to much notice of some of whats written at the top.
As has been said when using a gin basket its best to use well made spirit that has already had the heads and tails removed. Trying to run gin as a one and done ,using wash or low wines would be a pain in the butt to say the least.
All of the bits about some methods producing colour are irrelevant.......it's all clear once its been distilled.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:06 pm

Even with a very clean GNS a lot of people will still take a heads and tail cut - it will just be a much smaller cut than a normal run. There isn't a single way to do a lot of what we do. Trying to list out every process that could be used would require a book just to discuss this subject. The point of this post was to, in a simple format, discuss why these tools are used and a basic how. We can squabble over details but the main ideas are correct.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:12 pm

Saltbush Bill wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:23 pm
All of the bits about some methods producing colour are irrelevant.......it's all clear once its been distilled.
This post isn't just about gin. It's about flavor extraction in general. For an amaro or bitter color may be a relevant factor. That's not going to happen with a gin basket/vapor infusion.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Corsaire » Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:13 pm

While I agree that you should use a good clean base to make your gin, you still make cuts on a gin run. Not for heads or tails, but for the flavors you wish to keep.

SBB, of course distilling gives a clear spirit. But maceration and soxhletting don't. They extract color. You make your gin prior to soxhlet/maceration.
I think you're thinking only of london dry style, while the soxhlet/maceration makes compound gin.

Maybe you should add that you need a good base first, without heads or tails.

Great write up!

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:24 pm

Corsaire wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:13 pm
While I agree that you should use a good clean base to make your gin, you still make cuts on a gin run. Not for heads or tails, but for the flavors you wish to keep.
That might make it sound complicated to a newbie. I think of it as keeping out flavors I don't want.
With all of the botanicals in a Carter Head, I remove a foreshot, smell it, return it to the receiver if it has only nice flavors or discard it if it's nasty, run until I don't like what is coming over, then shut down. Now that I've done many runs, this is done on volume and if I do any tasting it's near the end to confirm that it's going to plan.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Saltbush Bill » Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:57 pm

Single Malt Yinzer wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:12 pm
This post isn't just about gin. It's about flavor extraction in general.
In that case maybe the thread title should reflect that.
The word "GIN" IS used numerous times in the first post. There is absolutely no mention of any other spirit type that I see.
Single Malt Yinzer wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:06 pm
Even with a very clean GNS a lot of people will still take a heads and tail cut
Is that a true heads and tails cut....or just people removing excess oils at the begining of the run and unwanted bitter flavours coming over at the end of the run?

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Corsaire » Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:59 pm

NZChris wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:24 pm
That might make it sound complicated to a newbie. I think of it as keeping out flavors I don't want.
I'm still a noob. It makes sense to me to still call it cuts. Deciding what does or doesn't make the cut. Maybe it's because I'm not a native English speaker?

But I understand your point. I agree it would be a good idea to state at the beginning you need a base spirit that has been cut for heads and tails. It doesn't need to be neutral, I like some spicy rye backbone in some gins for example.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:57 pm

'Cut' is a bit of an anomaly in home distilling. I use the word when I really mean 'choosing a blend' when running whiskey, rum, brandy, etc., but don't use it when cutting 'on the fly' as I do with gin, which is the correct way to use the word and is how it is used in the industry.

I recently told someone that he wouldn't be able to make decent gin out of his wine. He said several locals did, so I tried it and have made several nice gins using my own grape spirit, so yes, I am a fan of the idea that gin base doesn't have to be neutral.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:58 pm

There is a fourth method of extracting VOCs that doesn't involve heating. You should find it on the forum if you search for vapor infusion. I've used it to extract flavors while overseas to bring home to NZ and to repair Absinthe and Ouzo that didn't have enough of a particular botanical, but not to produce a finished gin .... yet.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:33 am

Saltbush Bill wrote:Is that a true heads and tails cut....or just people removing excess oils at the begining of the run and unwanted bitter flavours coming over at the end of the run?
NZChris wrote:'Cut' is a bit of an anomaly in home distilling. I use the word when I really mean 'choosing a blend' when running whiskey, rum, brandy, etc., but don't use it when cutting 'on the fly' as I do with gin, which is the correct way to use the word and is how it is used in the industry.
It's a true cut as much as it's keep junk out that you don't want and keeping the good stuff in. I don't see why I would use a different word for it. You can collect in jars and then blend or do it on the fly.
Saltbush Bill wrote:In that case maybe the thread title should reflect that.
I used the term Gin basket as most people understand what it is and how it is used. I agree that I could have used the term Vapor Infusion. But we're really getting into semantics. If a mod wanted to change it then they can. I don't believe that the world will change if it is. I talk a lot about gin because it's the most common vapor infused spirit. I do that so a reader will have a good understanding of it and can use it as a proxy for other spirits.
NZChris wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:58 pm
There is a fourth method of extracting VOCs that doesn't involve heating.
Hanging the fruit in the air above a spirit in a closed container or something else? If so I did miss that one.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Avo » Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:41 am

NZChris wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 11:58 pm
There is a fourth method of extracting VOCs that doesn't involve heating. You should find it on the forum if you search for vapor infusion.
I was a bit confused by your post. :think: I have a gin basket; although called a 'gin basket' it will very much work for any other extractions; not necessarily for a gin product. It extracts from the sample by 'Vapour infusion', and very much uses the heat of the ethanol vapours to do so. Vapour temperatures in excess of 70 - 90 + deg c.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Avo » Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:57 am

Single Malt Yinzer,
I very much appreciated your article on methods of flavour extraction.
It was very welcome. I am a great fan of 'Gin basket' & 'Soxhlet' flavour extraction.
I hoped to get more interest in the use of the Soxhlet, in a Subject/comment I posted a while back.
It must be said, that although called a 'Gin basket' used primarily to produce gin, they can be used
for making products other than gin. They will extract flavour by vapour infusion - The vapours
temperatures will be in excess of 70 - 90+ deg 'C'

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:08 pm

I am referring to cold vapor infusion. If it has an official name, I don't know what it is.

I use a Ball jar with an SS platform, (borrowed from a large coffee press), that can be stacked with botanicals. A couple of days has been enough when boosting a flavor in a product and I have had a very successful extraction from a single botanical in a week.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:36 pm

Ah ok yes I did miss that. What should we call it so people know what it is? Cold vapor infusion? The EZ-NZ method? :)

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:09 pm

Don't give me any credit for it. I read about it on this forum at least four years ago because that was when I took some high proof neutral on holiday to the tropics and brought it back as essence for making liqueur.
Last edited by NZChris on Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Avo » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:12 pm

NZChris wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:08 pm
I am referring to cold vapor infusion. If it has an official name, I don't know what it is.

I use a Ball jar with an SS platform, (borrowed from a large coffee press), that can be stacked with botanicals. A couple of days has been enough when boosting a flavor in a product and I have had a very successful extraction from a single botanical in a week.
:thumbup:

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:36 pm

Single Malt Yinzer wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:36 pm
Ah ok yes I did miss that. What should we call it so people know what it is? Cold vapor infusion? The EZ-NZ method? :)
In France it's called 'liqueur du pendu' which translates to 'hanged liquor'.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:01 am

Ok - I'll refer to it as "Cold Vapor Infusion".

Cold Vapor infusion: In a closed environment the botanical is suspended above a spirit for a length of time. The alcoholic vapor will extract the flavor compounds. The compounds will "sweat" out of the botanical. It will extract Soluble, non-volatile and volatile compounds.

Does that sound good?

Have you or anyone else tried this with botanicals other than citrus?

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Fri Mar 20, 2020 10:26 am

I haven't tried it with citrus.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Saltbush Bill » Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:42 am

I've seen it done with and tasted the results from plums, peaches, nectarines, oranges, manderines and limes.
Never seen or tasted anything else.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Fri Mar 20, 2020 12:09 pm

Saltbush Bill wrote:I've seen it done with and tasted the results from plums, peaches, nectarines, oranges, manderines and limes.
Never seen or tasted anything else.
Did you cut it up or leave it whole?
NZChris wrote:I haven't tried it with citrus.
What have you tried it with and how did it work out?

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by NZChris » Fri Mar 20, 2020 1:13 pm

A typical example would be when I thought an Ouzo needed more fennel. I hung some fresh fennel in a jar, trapping it with the cork, checked two days later and and was very happy with the result.

Found a ripe pandanus fruit, bruised enough segments to fill the top third of a Ball jar, sat it for four days in a tin shed that got quite hot during the day and coolish at night, retrieved the essence and brought it home to NZ where I made it into liqueur.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by SaltyStaves » Fri Mar 20, 2020 1:33 pm

I have done it with a freshly picked Kaffir lime leaf. The distillate was excellent after 24hrs, but unfortunately on day two, the leaf had curled/shrunk and slipped off the stainless wire and into the distillate, which ruined it. I didn't have any more product to redo it.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Saltbush Bill » Fri Mar 20, 2020 4:47 pm

Single Malt Yinzer wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 12:09 pm
Did you cut it up or leave it whole?
I have not personaly done it, I've seen and tasted another distillers experiments and tasted the end results.
The fruits were left whole the times that I have seen.
The resulting spirit then had the ABV adjusted using water and a little sugar syrup to create a sort of fruit liquore.
All that I tried were quite good.

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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by CleanRun » Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:56 pm

Has anyone used a Tri-Clamp Sight Glass inline atop a column as a gin basket? I’ve made a couple of stainless mesh plates to sit on the fittings above and below the glass to hold ingredients. Would love to know if anyone has tried this and, if so, their findings. Always looking to learn... Thanks in advance - ClearRun
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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Windswept » Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:22 pm

I tried this with some juniper berries in a soxhlet to try and pull out all the juniper flavour. It sure smells like gin, but it pulled out a lot of stuff that you probably would t want in your drinking gin.

My plan was to use the concentrated flavour to make a larger volume of gin by adding in some neutral, but I’m not sure it’s going to work.

It sucked out a lot of the colour from the berries, as well as quite a lot of resin or wax.

It is something I plan on experimenting with more though.
7C98B871-1C4D-4537-9F15-72A627ED5011.jpeg
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Re: Gin Basket vs Soxhlet vs Maceration - Flavor extraction

Post by Avo » Mon Apr 13, 2020 12:23 am

Windswept wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:22 pm
I tried this with some juniper berries in a soxhlet to try and pull out all the juniper flavour. It sure smells like gin, but it pulled out a lot of stuff that you probably would t want in your drinking gin.

My plan was to use the concentrated flavour to make a larger volume of gin by adding in some neutral, but I’m not sure it’s going to work.

It sucked out a lot of the colour from the berries, as well as quite a lot of resin or wax.

It is something I plan on experimenting with more though.

If you have a glass still, perhaps run it through that to take out the colour; should hold some of the juniper flavour :think:

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