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Gin Botanicals 101: Bursting With Flavor


Gin Botanicals 101: Bursting With Flavor


Written by Thomas Adams 
September 27, 2013

For hundreds of years, gin has been synonymous with the woody, winter aroma of pine. This strong connection comes from the very beginnings of gin botanicals. Gin botanicals are plant additives used to give the spirit its unique flavor and aroma.

When the distilling of the spirit began, the main additive was juniper berries. These berries have a high concentration of an organic compound called alpha-pinene, giving juniper berries their smell and taste of pine needles. Gin was originally distilled with juniper berries because alpha-pinene was thought to have medicinal properties years ago (and some still say it does).


Fast forward to the 21st century, and craft distilleries like Black Button Distilling are exploring innovative combinations of gin botanicals to intrigue and delight new palates. Gin, like vodka, requires virtually no aging, and the spirit’s cleanr taste creates a perfect base for experimentation with flavor. With craft distilleries pushing the envelope when it comes to gin botanicals, the very definition of gin has begun to alter. Many alcohol regulatory authorities still classify gin as a clear alcoholic spirit flavored with juniper berries. However, the definition is starting to widen to include all of the new facets of gin.

The four sides of new gin botanicals:

  1. Citrus: Clean, juicy flavors of orange, lemon, lime, and more.
  2. Spice: Aromatic organic ingredients can lean towards the sweet or savory side.
  3. Sweet: Decadent flavors from additions such as almonds and liquorice.
  4. Floral: Fresh notes from lavender, rose, camomille, and more.

New craft gins can utilize one or more of these elements on a crisp juniper-infused base. From tangy orange slices to spices like cardamom and cinnamon, these botanicals can be used to play up different aspects of the juniper berries, or direct the flavor into a bold, new direction.

For example, Black Button’s Citrus Forward Gin uses sweet, juicy orange peel to add a richness to the delicate juniper notes. Local New York State Cascade hops give a subtle hint of spice for a deliciously balanced profile.


So, how do distilleries infuse these new combinations of gin botanicals into the spirit? Here are four main categories of infusing gin with its flavor and aroma:

  1. Steeping: In this traditional method, the botanicals and gin are heated and steeped for up to 48 hours and then distilled. Just as in making tea, the hot gin absorbs the elements of the botanicals.
  2. Vapour Infusion: In this method, the base spirit is vaporized, and as the vapor rises, it mingles with and infuses with the gin botanicals above it. The vapor then is condensed back to a liquid for drinking.
  3. New Methods: Just as botanical combinations are exploding with new options, so are the methods of producing the gin. New methods such as vacuum distillation and others are popping up all over the world and resulting in new aroma and flavor profiles of gin.
  4. A Combination of the Above Options: Just as in other spirit distilling, distinct flavors can be produced with combinations of different processes.


As a member of the Gin Guild, Black Button Distilling is committed to developing enticing profiles with balanced combinations of gin botanicals for your enjoyment. With infinite possibilities, we have cultivated a lineup of gins to suit any taste.

  1. Citrus and Spice Gin: We have our Citrus Forward Gin and its even spicier and fuller cousin, the Barrel Reserve Citrus Forward Gin. Both share bright citrus notes, and the Barrel Reserve Citrus Forward Gin combines the comforting woody notes of a bourbon barrel.
  2. Floral Gin: Our unique, limited-edition Lilac Gin sports a full garden of floral notes: lilac, lavender, rose, and hibiscus for those looking to enjoy a fresh cocktail. We release this gin each year when the lilacs bloom. Grab it while you can!
  3. Sweet Gin: Although our Buffalo Tasting Room is now closed, it lives on through our Loganberry Gin. This gin has heavy notes of sweet and fruity loganberries, grown in the Buffalo area since the 1800s, and a pleasant juniper finish.
  4. Classic Gin: Like James Bond, our version of a classic and neat juniper gin, the American Dry Gin, will never go out of style.

Now that you know all about delectable flavor profiles and Black Button Distilling gin offerings, enjoy a bouquet of gin botanicals in your next cocktail. Here are a few that we think will quench your thirst. After you try these, check out our entire list of gin cocktails. Visit our Rochester Distillery and Tasting Room for more delightful cocktails.


1 ½ oz Lilac Gin

¾ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Maraschino Liqueur

½ oz Crème de Violette

Shake with ice & strain


2 oz Citrus Forward Gin

¾ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Honey Syrup

(1:1 Honey:Boiling Water)

Shake with ice & strain

Lemon wheel garnish

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