The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Lemon Gin Recipe.

lemons for lemon gin

Lemons for lemon gin

I went to New Zealand for the first time over 30 years ago and Lemon Gin was the pre dinner tipple in one of the houses that we visited. It came in gallon jars and was served neat in small tumblers. This was the first time I’d seen anyone pouring out drinks from such a large container. In this particular house the lemon gin jar doubled as a doorstop in the kitchen during the day.

I forgot all about lemon gin until my sister and I got into making sloe gin. We had made a heady investment of a case of gin and, after picking a vast sack full of sloes in freezing cold winds, decided to find another use for the remaining bottles. My sister found an old recipe for lemon gin; this stated that it would take three years to mature. I must admit I wasn’t keen on waiting three years.

My sister persuaded me to experiment. I did, after all, have five litres of sloe gin to see me through the long gap. I also liked the idea of travelling with a bottle of lemon gin in the boot of my car for three years (see method below).

We made a bottle each and, after a few months of rolling about in the boot of my car, I moved my bottle to the cottage larder where it slipped behind an old mixer and was forgotten. Four years later it was discovered and retrieved by a tall boyfriend who spent a lot of time in the larder as this was one of the few places that he could stand up in the cottage. The lemon peel had totally vanished. The liqueur was unbelievably good. A Dom PĂ©rignon leap from the NZ brew. I hate to admit it but this is better than sloe gin and at least one notch up from our raspberry gin.

When Danny arrived the remains of the lemon gin had been buried again. A couple of years ago he unearthed and secretly sampled it (this was an eleven year old vintage). He rushed upstairs, woke me up and insisted that lemon gin must be made every year from now on, in vast quantities.

If you are patient, have a surfeit of gin or want to produce something exceptional for best friends that drop by, try this recipe. It’s well worth the wait.



Lemon Gin Recipe.
Recipe Type: Liqueur
Author: Fiona Nevile
This takes years to mature but is probably the best of all fruit liqueurs
  • 1 litre bottle of medium quality gin – supermarket own brands are good
  • 200 g white granulated sugar
  • 3 unwaxed lemons (just the rind, avoiding the pith)
  1. Make space in the bottle for the sugar and lemon by pouring off at least 200 ml of gin (reserve this).
  2. Gently pare the lemon rind from the lemon. Be really careful to avoid the bitter pith (at a pinch use a zester – although the results are not nearly as good).
  3. Add the peel to the bottle.
  4. Using a funnel add the sugar to the gin and shake well.
  5. Top up the bottle with the reserved gin. Find a use for the surplus (I usually mix myself a large gin and tonic at this stage).
  6. Label the bottle. Wrap it well (bubble wrap is ideal) and place securely in the boot of your car (The alcohol will not allow the bottle to freeze completely in cold weather).
  7. Drive the car hard for three years.
  8. Remove the bottle. Taste and taste again.

Tips and Tricks:

If you make this every year, within three years you will have lemon gin available annually. Danny has just told me that we have passed the two year mark.

Put an ingredients label on your jar so as to be able to recreate a particularly good vintage. Use decorators tape as this generally peels off easily and can be passed from jar to jar.

Don’t use the cheapest gin. You might not live to regret it.


  Leave a reply


  1. Geo
    I keep the bottles in a sideboard and shake them when I remember.

    We also have two grape vines that we planted a few years ago.

    I’ve been throwing away bucketfulls of black grapes every year but this year want to try and make wine. Any suggestions?

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Geo

    You leave the lemon in the gin. It will dissolve over the three year period, especially if it’s shaken a bit. Is it in the boot of your car?

  3. Hi
    I made my first batch of lemon gin in August last year following your recipe. The gin is now a satisfying golden colour.

    One question. The lemon is looking pale and doesn’t seem to be dissolving. Do I leave it or remove it?

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Richard,

    So pleased that you found my recipe. Lemon gin is wonderful stuff and as you have spotted could increase the value of your car enormously.

    Yes a mixed citrus gin sounds like it would work. It might be best to dedicate a bottle to each fruit and then blend them.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  5. I found your site by accident, as i was looking for a different sloe gin recipe, having picked far too many in this great year for sloes in Yorkshire. we have just consumed some 20 year old sloe gin which we had mislaid at the back of the drink cupboard, ummh – nectar of the gods.
    most fortuitous to find your recipe for lemon gin, had a good chuckle, and am off to get more gin (and lemons!) and start a(nother) 3 year cycle.
    a mixed case of citrus gin in the back of the car will likely increase it’s value!
    by the way what about a mixed citrus gin?
    will now bookmark your blog
    thank you

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sam,

    What a shame that you have been warned off making the marrow rum! Our’s has changed the atmosphere in the bedroom from light and airy to pub cellar (our airing cupboard is at the foot of our bed!)

    I took my lemon gin out of the car after a year as I was worried that it might get stolen. The gin rather than the car. Then it lived beside the fridge freezer in the larder (there is a slight vibration there).

  7. thanks for this, i think i will try a little bottle using the same ratios as the lemon.
    i have read the seville orange and kumquat recipes and am looking forward to giving them a go when the fruit comes in. we now have a very full cupboard, 6 bottles of sloe gin and several raspberry and blackberry gins….. loving husband said a resounding no when i discovered the marrow rum recipe yesterday!
    i will certainly keep you posted on the lime gin if we do it.

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sam,

    Yes it takes 3 years. All citrus fruit gin takes loads of time but the results are spectacular. A million times better than Sloe Gin.

    I am not sure about lime gin. Why not give it a go? Orange based gins are always great we have recipes for Seville orange gin and kumquat gin on the site (tried and tested).

    I have never tried limes. 90% certain that it would work. If you try it report back in 3 years!

  9. hi again!
    i currently have a litre and a half of lemon gin rolling around in the boot of my car, but for three years? really? also, i was wondering if you had made or thought of making lime gin? i’m curious, and itching to try, but need to persuade loving husband!

  10. tractorfactorsteve

    What a user friendly site this is. Not only lovely things to do, but also easy to print.. thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,238,199 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2022 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder