Young and Hungry

How to Make Your Own Gin Without Getting Arrested

“I am an alcohol enthusiast,” Joe Maiellano says. “I guess that’s the polite way of putting it.”

The 28-year-old political fundraiser from Arlington and his business partner, 28-year-old Jack Hubbard, a nonprofit fundraiser who lives in Georgetown, are definitely serious about their spirits. So serious that they wanted to start a gin distillery in the D.C. area. Instead, they've created the HomeMade Gin Kit, which allows anyone to make their own gin by infusing botanicals into vodka—no distilling required.

The idea was born while they were looking into the logistics of opening a distillery. “The amount of capital required and the number of regulations is just unbelievable,” says Maiellano. “We figured it would take one to three years and over $100,000 to get a bottle on the shelves.”

As they were thinking of ways around those roadblocks, Maiellano and Hubbard worked on a gin recipe that involved infusing vodka with botanicals. Through trial, error, and 10 test batches, the pair fine-tuned the gin’s flavor profile, which was inspired by Hendrick’s Gin and Bombay Sapphire.

“You say, ‘Let’s try a bunch of allspice in this one,’” says Maiellano. “Then you cringe at the final product, because it tastes like Christmas."

Ultimately, the D.I.Y. duo composed a proprietary mix of 11 botanicals: juniper berries, coriander, rosemary, French blue lavender, rose hips, allspice, fennel seed, lemon peel, green cardamom, Tellicherry black peppercorn, and bay leaf.

While they were working things out, they did some drinking around town. Because that’s what you do when you’re thinking about getting into the booze biz.

“I’m a disciple of Todd Thrasher and Derek Brown,” says Maiellano. “I love the craft cocktail movement. The idea for the kit was influenced by the fact that these guys make everything from scratch—their own bitters, syrups and tinctures.”

So, Maiellano and Hubbard abandoned the idea of opening a distillery—for now—and the Homemade Gin Kit was born. The $39.95 package comes with botanicals, two flip top glass bottles, a funnel, and a sieve. (Spice refills are $10.) Though they are working to get it stocked at some stores in the District in the coming months, it is currently only available through their website.

Around Thanksgiving of last year, they made 250 kits in their home kitchens. “We thought that if we could sell them by Father’s Day of this year, we’d be very happy,” says Maiellano.

So far, they’ve sold 2,700. They’ve moved their operations out of their houses and into a warehouse and a commercial kitchen space, so they can produce and stockpile the kits on a larger scale.

I found the kit incredibly easy to use. It doesn’t come with vodka, so you will need to buy a 750 ml bottle. I used Absolut, though the kit was tested on Stoli and Smirnoff. Gin is usually made by infusing a neutral grain spirit with juniper berries and other botanicals during the distillation process. On the other hand, this kit requires no distilling and only takes 36 hours.

First, you pour in the juniper berries, shake everything up, and let the bottle sit in a cool, dry location to allow the oils and flavors of the berries infuse into the vodka. Twenty-four hours later, you add the rest of the botanicals, shake again, and let the mixture rest for an additional 12 hours to infuse further flavors. At the end, you strain out all the particulate as you bottle it. (A trace amount will linger, but it will sink to the bottom and is easy to avoid.) The liquid has a citrine hue and a heady, complex, juniper-prominent aroma—perfect for a classic gin and tonic.

Photo courtesy Homemade Gin Kit

  • Jon

    WHY THE HELL DIDNT I THINK OF THIS?! *bangs head into wall*

  • Ty

    I don't see the point. Unlike homebrewing or winemaking, this gin kit seems to involve no creativity or experimental zeal. The customer is basically paying $40 plus the cost of the vodka for the privilege of performing some tedious steps and waiting two days to arrive at a product they could have just picked off the shelf for a fraction of the price. DIY is good, but only when it results in a quality product at a reasonable cost, all while engaging the user creatively.

    Maybe I missed it or the article didn't state it, but is there any room for experimentation with the kit?

  • Jim

    Don't invite Ty to your gin making parties!

  • Ty

    I'll gladly pass by your gin-making party on the way to my gin-drinking party.

  • Christine

    I've had really is fantastic. It is a wonderful gift to give, but after buying three to give away, I only gave one as a gift, and have kept the rest! Try it, you'll do the same thing! It really makes a great gin and tonic!

  • kob

    They sold 2,700 already at $39.95?

    2,700 x 39.95 = 107,865

    With just a Web site?

    I am incredibly impressed.

  • NewMuggleton

    Thanks for the recipe - vodka is very cheap here in Kazakhstan,gin very expensive!

  • Pingback: Hungry for Linkage: Chocolate, Cigars and Booze (The Major Foodgroups)

  • Pingback: Just DIY It: Gin Edition Part 1 |

  • Pingback: Blue Coaster33

  • Pingback: free movie downloads

  • Pingback: free movie downloads

  • Pingback: streaming movies

  • Pingback: water ionizer

  • Pingback: kangen water machine

  • Pingback: great prices on DIRECTV

  • Pingback: parking

  • Pingback: car parking

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: laan nu

  • Pingback: water ionizer pay plan loans

  • Pingback: commercial plumbing contractors