EE 9 | Alcohol Distillation


In this second episode of a two-parter about alcohol distillation, Tony Frischknecht is joined once more by Essential Extraction’s Head of Product Management, Nick Gay. Through a video presentation, they show how to use the Little Buddy to come up with a very natural alcohol recipe from their not-so-traditional laboratory. They go deep on the organic ingredients that can be used in this process, the specific steps to be followed in building such a recipe, and how this flexible method allows for many trial-and-errors, resulting in all kinds of natural alcohol distillations.

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Alcohol Distillation Part 2: The Basics Of Creating Your Own Flavors With Nick Gay

I’ve got some exciting stuff to share with you. If you missed our previous episode, we were talking about infusing alcohol. In this episode, I’ve got Nick Gay on here. He’s Head of Project Management. Nick is going to walk us through a short video and then we’re going to be talking to him about what happened in his lab. We’ve got a lab. It’s not your traditional lab but it’s the way we work here at Extraction Essentials. We have some really cool footage to show you. Nick, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me, Tony.

I want to recap a little bit so that people out there understand where we’re starting out. Nick, can you share with the readers what type of recipe we are using and why we chose this particular recipe?

All gin is going to be Juniper forward. Juniper is the major constituent of our recipe. A couple of the other things are cardamom pods, coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel and I also added some lime flowers as well.

What made you choose this recipe in particular and why gin?

EE 9 | Alcohol Distillation

Alcohol Distillation: Instead of just putting the whole recipe in there, extracting each ingredient separately is also a good idea.


I chose gin because it’s one of the few alcohols that’s commonly consumed that is infused with botanicals. Of course, there are other ones, but that’s why we chose gin. In the future, we’ll move forward with other different alcohol infusions as well.

Nick has got a martini glass in front of him and he’s going to be starting to peel the outside of an orange and he’s creating the cocktail. Nick, as we go forward here, please share with the folks what’s your process, why you’re doing this and we’ll move from there.

I’m doing a little intro showing this CO2 closed-loop extraction unit that we make here at Essential Extractions. In front of me are all the botanicals that we use to infuse the alcohol.

On the left, you have the Little Buddy and I’ve got my little mouse. I’ve got the Little Buddy here on the left and then in front of him, he’s got nine different jars. What do you have in these jars in front of you, Nick?

I can’t see too well, but I believe on the far left is Juniper berry and then to the right of that coriander seed, cardamom pods, dried orange peel, licorice root, which actually I didn’t mention, that’s in the recipe as well, cinnamon stick and then on the far right, that’s the actual recipe in the jar.

You have it all mixed together. I’m going to hit play again. We’re going to walk through here and we’re just doing a quick recap on all the different products, so you can see the ingredients. Did you say the addition was a licorice stick?

You could even just go into your backyard, pick a few things, and throw it in your own alcohol mix. Click To Tweet


What kind of flavor does that add to the alcohol itself? What’s the purpose of adding a licorice stick?

A lot of people add licorice root into their gins. It sweetens up the mix a little bit. Licorice root is what they use to make black licorice. It’s a similar taste to that but in alcohol, it’s not quite as sweet and not quite as licoricey.

If everybody out there has experienced licorice before and if you don’t like it, you really don’t like it generally. Nick is filling up the container where we would normally put the biomass or the herbs. He’s filling in the top of the container. What’s the correct name for this container?

A lot of people call it the biomass chamber, but we call it the process vessel because it does more than just extract biomass.

He’s filling this up right now. I’m trying to play while he dumps this in. He’s getting this ready to process, is what it comes down. This is pretty cool. We’ve got a time-lapse where he’s installing the top of the chamber and getting it ready to connect it to the Little Buddy with the wingnuts. In the new system we have, it’s all wingnuts. We don’t have any regular bolts, so we’ve made that easier. Just moments ago, you were doing something with the filters there. Were you closing those up? What were you doing exactly?

I had previously clean those out and I let them out to dry. I was putting those inline filters back into the system.

It looks like you’re starting the machine.

As you can see on that pressure gauge, as I turn that knob how it went up, that’s me adding CO2 into the closed-loop system. What’s happening is the CO2 is entering the closed-loop system. It’s being chilled by the chiller, which is within the unit. I’m looking at that sight glass waiting for it to fill up with liquid CO2, and then once I have that filled up, then I dump the CO2 and start the run. Both knobs are now open. We’re cycling and we let that run. I believe we let it run for four hours for this extraction. It’s on its own now running.

That wasn’t in a time-lapse. That took you all like 1.5 minutes.

That’s the only work you need to put in to get this machine running is that couple minutes, and then also your changeover and cleaning time. Even though the machine is running for four hours, you can be off doing whatever. You could be at work.

As we had mentioned in other episodes, the safety on this is we have a pressure trigger that will just let out the gas in the room and that would be it. It’s very safe to run even if you’re not around the machine watching as it runs.

Worst case scenario is you’re going to blow essential oils all over the wall or something.

I’m going to continue the video and Nick’s got a camera. He’s taking a video above while he’s putting this stuff together. We’ll probably see that in other parts of the episode or at a later time. We’re not in a traditional lab. We’ve got a space in one of the owners. He has a basement and we are doing this where we think could set-up right. Nick has dressed for the occasion. They’ve got their retro attire. There’s a little bit of a theme. I’m not dressed in theme but it doesn’t matter that much. Nick, walk us through what’s happening.

Right now, what I was doing is I was infusing the alcohol with the botanicals, which was a two-part comparison that we’re doing. Once this gets rolling there, I poured the botanicals and the alcohol in there. I shake it up and we let that sit for 24 hours.

All you did is take another separate container of ingredients and you dumped it straight into vodka itself. Is that correct?

The jar that was on the far right when we were showing you all the ingredients that had the recipe in it, I made up two of those jars. One of which is for soaking in the alcohol and the second of which you saw me pour into the closed-loop CO2 extractor.

We’re setting that aside and the machine is still running.

EE 9 | Alcohol Distillation

Alcohol Distillation: Try to make new flavors that possibly couldn’t have been created before due to the alcohol itself, its properties, and how much that can degrade certain things.


The machine is still running throughout the whole video.

Had you let that soak for 24 hours?

I did two different ones like what they do in the cooking shows. I already had one made up so that we were ready to go and then the second I did to show the viewers.

He is making some cocktails. Which gin are you using? Are you using from the Little Buddy or the simply soaked ingredients in the vodka?

This one is the soaked version.

He’s setting up to create a few cocktails with the soaked ingredients and the machine on the left is still running. As we said, he was running it for 4 hours. What are you doing back there?

That’s when I was harvesting the machine. That was after four hours had elapsed and that jar in the next frame is the infused vodka that came out of there. That jar down there on the bottom left with a tube going into it, that’s where you harvest from. All that infused alcohol is coming out of there. It’s very milky and it’s a much different color than the other stuff.

That’s what’s been extracted from the Little Buddy. What is it? Is it Vodka?

It’s vodka, essential oils in a way, aromatics, different flavors and some things like that. What we did is we extracted all that. What that leaves is a very small amount of the aromatics and oil in the collection chamber. What we did is we poured vodka into the system, which was then infused with that oil and brought the aromatics with it.

What you ended up doing is, instead of collecting oil like you normally would harvest from an herb, you put the dried product in the process vessel and took as much of the oil out as you can. In order to get something to capture that aromatic and flavors, after the process had run for the 4 hours, you ran the vodka through the system, and then the vodka picked up trace elements of the oil. That’s what David here is holding in the middle, right?

Correct. Similar to a nail polish remover, alcohol will strip all of that from the system. Even if there are little trace amounts on the lining of the tubes, it grabs all of that and takes it out of there. It’s super potent. I took a little taste and it was way too strong to drink straight. We ended up using a syringe and using 10 milliliters of the flavored vodka. What I’m doing is I’m taking 10 milliliters of that flavored vodka and then we’re going to be mixing that with two of those shot glasses full of non-infused vodka. That 10 milliliter was more than enough to flavor that beverage.

When you were doing this, I assumed you were tasting it. You’re adding what you think you should to create that gin Juniper taste. Don’t you have an exact science on measurement?

No, not at all. Quite honestly, I’m not a bartender. I drink beer mostly. As far as cocktails go, I don’t know too much. We were just shot in the dark but going forward, we’re going to do a lot more experimentation, possibly bring a cocktail bartender in and have them show us the ropes because I’m a little bit out of my element here.

For those of you who are reading, this is the first time we’ve extracted Juniper berry with a closed-loop CO2 system. Nick is creating the cocktail. They’re consuming it a little bit here. He and David had made some drinks. This next cocktail, looks like you’re creating from the ingredients that you soaked in the vodka, is that correct?


He’s pouring himself a little shot out of a large mason jar and dumping in there and adding the ice. He’s shaking it up and creating the cocktail from the stirred side. He’s stripping the orange, putting it in, and creating a gin martini. As you guys were running the system, was there anything different that reacted to the Juniper berries and the rest of the ingredients that were in the process vessel?

I was a little worried about extracting the Juniper berries because I thought we’d bring different colors or something with it or odd flavors that we didn’t want, but it worked out really well. Both were good but each one was very different. The one that was extracted in the CO2 machine was subtle but it stayed in your mouth longer. It sat around for a while, whereas the one that was soaked in, the alcohol just hits you and then it’s gone. That’s one of the biggest things that I noticed about it. The color didn’t come out dark at all. In fact, it came out lighter than the alcohol infusion. That was something that I was surprised about.

Aesthetically, if you were to drink either one, was there, “I like that one better than this one. This cocktail better than that one?” What did you think?

Gin is one of the most commonly consumed alcohols that is infused with botanicals. Click To Tweet

I definitely liked the CO2 extracted one a little bit better. With that said, we’re going to keep experimenting and try new things. The next time we try this, instead of just putting the whole recipe in there, we’ll extract each thing separately. That way, we can have these small amounts of concentrated flavorings that we could then mix and match however we want.

If you are a bartender out there and you see the high-end speak-easy type bars where they charge $20 and $30 per cocktail, as Nick was saying, you could create trace amounts with the licorice root. You could do the licorice root, so you have that. What’s interesting is, what I am experiencing in my brain, the way I’m thinking is, you’ve got this cocktail and you paid $30 or $40 for which it happens in these high-end places. Not a lot of people buy it. I don’t buy $30 drinks. That’s for sure. Every now and then, on special occasions, you get hit with solid alcohol. It’s very strong, especially with straight gin or straight vodka. If you have that taste that stays with you, I’m not sure. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I think that’s up to the person that’s drinking it.

As what we’re talking about, it’s like black licorice. Some people love it, some people hate it. It all goes down to preference, which is totally fine.

It sounds like it went well on the fact of we were able to put all our ingredients. Coming back to minimizing it to each different ingredient and I know this is hard to tell. It seems like you could make several cocktails from that one run that you guys, probably several gallons, I’m guessing?

I would say at least 1 gallon. I could have fit a bunch more of that material in the column itself. I was replicating the same recipe so it would be consistent.

You could tweak it in a lot of different ways to make this oil more to your liking, especially when you start focusing on certain compounds and flavors. That’s what The Mixology Guys do. I’ve been to these bars where they say, “What do you like to drink and I’ll make you something?” It seems like you could get very fine if you were able to have 10 or 20 droplets in front of you and be like, “What do we want to add to this?” You can add it to different Manhattan, whiskey drinks, different stuff like that. Vodka and gin are the easiest, but you can start adding this to each one, just little hints. As you get better at it, you’re going to make better cocktails but what do you think is the biggest thing that you learned in running this experiment?

First of all, it worked which I was happy about that. I didn’t know if it will work or not, but that’s the cool thing about experimenting. Through doing it that I thought about more that I should be doing this with products that you cannot soak in alcohol. For example, lime flowers, which would be destroyed by the alcohol or basil which would turn black and nasty. All these sorts of things. Trying to make new flavors that possibly couldn’t have been created before to the alcohol itself, its properties and how much that can degrade certain things. Moving forward, we’re definitely going to be looking at a lot of different things that typically don’t go into alcohol, but we think may be good. I’m up here in Palisades, so let’s say peach blossom. That sounds great. That’s what got me thinking about this and we’re always trying to find the boundaries of what this machine can do. I feel like every week, we continue to find more things.

One thing I’d like to point out Nick is that you were able to create a flavor naturally. There’s no artificial in this. Every little bit of flavor or smell is 100% natural. You’re not putting anything in your body, other than the alcohol, however, it treats your body. We all know that it’s rough. It definitely gives us a hangover so it’s got to be rough on our body. Aside from that, when you see a lot of syrups, stuff, and unnatural things added to different alcohols and different flavors, you don’t have to go that direction. You can do 100% natural. I see advertising in the higher-end alcohols, but you can see here, this isn’t like taking a little drop or something and throw it in there that has all kinds of dyes in it and special flavors. You’re taking it exactly from the plant itself, which is why we created what we created.

Yes, 100%. It’s cool because you could even go into your backyard, pick a few things, throw them in there, and make your stuff.

That’s what’s going to be exciting about working with you on this. Guys, this the kind of stuff we’re going to bring to you as much as possible. We want to explore every little formulation that we can and Nick is helping create that with us. I’m super excited to be a part of this and share it with you guys. We’re looking for ideas from you. What do you guys want us to run? We will run it for you to do it. Going back to what Nick was talking about that I love is that, were going to be able to extract certain products that you couldn’t let soak out of alcohol. That’s going to come with some amazing new flavors.

When you walk into certain bars, you’ll see big jars where they’re doing the soaked infusion of these different parts. We’re going to take that side of it and we’re going to clean it up. You don’t have to have these jars out there soaking in these things. We’re going to show you how we can do it to the pristine point of here’s what you have and here’s what you get, and you’re always going to have that same consistency. Nick, I’m looking forward to sharing some other stuff with these guys in the future. Is there anything that you want to share? Any ideas that we’re going to be sharing with the folks down the road on what you have in mind or what you guys have been kicking around?

We’re definitely going to experiment with extracting each separate compound and then trying new botanicals to extract and infuse with alcohol. As Tony said, if there are some bartenders out there and you have some ideas, shoot it our way and we’ll totally do it. We’ll be glad to do it. As I said, I’m a beer drinker. Quite honestly, I don’t really know what people want when it comes to cocktails. Any input is great.

We can talk about more ideas from there. If you like what you’re learning, please follow us through YouTube. That way, we can share more and more of the stuff with you. We really appreciate it. It’s our goal to be in the top 100 shows here. We want to make that possible. We want to share the knowledge with you guys. Again, we know, there are several different ways to extract. This is one way, and we’re going to show you as much stuff as we can with the Little Buddy and we can’t wait to bring you more amazing stuff. Nick, thanks so much for joining us. Please reach out to us at There’s a way you can catch us in there. We also have all our social media feeds, but that’s the best place for us. Nick, I want you to have a safe trip wherever you’re headed. We will see you here real soon. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next time.

Thanks, Tony.

Important Links:

  • Previous episode – Alcohol Distillation Part 1: The Basics Of Creating Your Own Flavors With Nick Gay

About Nick Gay

EE 8 | Alcohol DistillationA leader in the CBD and herb industry with 8 years experience in new facility set-up, employee training, SOP creation and integration, product production, extraction and distillation.

A collaborative team-player who strives for operational excellence and works across all departments to scale production and create safe work environments.



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