Orris Root – The “Fixer”

Last year in London I attended a brief tasting event put on by David T. Smith on the subject of Gin. Coming away from this event, I was curiously intrigued by his remarks concerning Orris Root, which he dubbed “the fixer”. Over the past many months, I have started offering 1-day Gin Master Classes at the tail end of the 5-Day Master Distiller Workshops. I have now started experimenting with Orris Root and yes…there is something magical about this material which is the root bulb from the Iris flower, which I am sure many of you have seen (and maybe grow).

I cannot explain the science behind Orris, but it somehow marries the various botanicals together and essentially “fixes up” the Gin. I rely heavily on my dear wife’s taste palate when it comes to Gin recipes. To further test Orris, I recently did a small Gin run using our standard household Gin recipe. Except, this time I added some Orris. When I served her a sample of the Gin, she took her customary sip and immediately remarked – “there is something different about this Gin. I like it..”.

Orris is now a key ingredient in all Gins that I make – whether at home or at a Gin MasterClass.

Thank You David T. Smith.

To wrap up this blog post, I leave you with a recipe recently trialed (to great acclaim) by the participants at a recent MasterClass.

They took 500 mls of high proof alcohol from the distillery (just like the alcohol that you could easily make on your home distillation device)

They added, 27 g of Juniper, 7 g Coriander, 7 g grapefruit peel, 10 g dried lemon peel, 10 g dried Orange Peel, 2 g Lime Peel, 3 g Lavender, 4 g Ginger Root, 5 g Orris and 0.5 g hops.

They added this alcohol/botanical mixture to a small Al’Ambic pot still. They also added also 200 mls water.

They distilled low and slow over a propane burner.

They proofed the distillate to 43% (86 proof).

We all Enjoyed it !

Dead Yeast – That’s a First !

Wow! Dead Yeast…..This has got to be a first….

I have been busy these past 4 days making ferments for what will be my annual supply of Rum. Last year, as many of you in the 5-day Workshops have now tasted, I used a mix of Horse-Feed molasses and cane sugar with the Horse Feed molasses coming from the sugar plant in Taber, Alberta. 10 months in oak made a wonderful sipping Rum at 43% (86 proof). This year I decided to change it up a bit and I used a mix of Fancy Molasses and Cane Sugar. I pitched my White Labs Rum yeast into my first 2 batches last Friday. After several hours, I could see no discernable signs of activity. I added more Nutrient and stirred the fermenter pails vigorously. Still nothing…. In a moment of panic, I rummaged through my fridge and found a package of Lallemand SR yeast that I had picked up a year ago at a conference in London. I added 15 grams to the fermenters and vavoom !! – within 2 hours a faint hissing sound could be detected. The sweet sound of fermentation! The next day, I measured out some brown sugar and water in a small cup and added some White Labs Rum Yeast. 9 hours later – nothing. Absolutely dead. In 30 years of brewing, I have never seen a package of yeast that was dead. Not sure what happened to this yeast, but I intend to have a discussion with White Labs to learn more. I will be sure to share the information I learn in a future Post on this site.