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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.


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  1. Tried this a couple of years ago, I have to say the results were much better than I could have expected, I now have a large surplus of the stuff (mine, all mine ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!) Sorry about that…
    I am thinking of trying it with lime next, Seville or Shimouti orange, and, as an experiment in foolhardiness, red chilli and lemongrass, to test out a personal theory of mine – see you on the other side….

  2. I made lemon gin a few years ago, didn’t think of the mechanical car boot aggitator (just gave the bottle a good shake every couple of weeks). Its fantastic stuff. Did mixed fruits last year and trying manderine this year, much more fun than buying it ready made.
    Must say the comment about not using the cheapest gin is a good tip I did a couple of year ago and you could taste the difference.

  3. Jane Taylor

    Loved the sound of this recipe. I tried your raspberry vodka recipe 2 years ago at my sister – in-law’s suggestion after a glut of raspberries on the allotment. Huge hit with family and friends and a great Xmas present in smaller bottles. Moved on to gooseberry vodka last year and rhubarb and blackcurrant this year..where will it end (apart from cirrhosis of the liver..)

  4. Have to admit that mine didn’t get the car treatment – just the occasional shake. Couldn’t resist sampling after 12 months – friends also joined in, end of gin! It was pronounced ‘superb’ both as a liqueur or with a mixer. I’m keeping my second batch hidden and I’m now making more on a regular basis – the recipe’s been passed on too so my friends can make their own!

  5. barry in china

    i’ve just made my first bottle

    wish me luck

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Beth

    We drink it neat – like a liqueur.

  7. Hi, I’ve just made my second batch of lemon gin and placed in the boot with last years! Although it is still 2 years until I can taste the first batch I was wondering how you drink this? Do you have it with something as a long drink or neat like sloe gin??

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Steve

    After letting the bottles rattle around in the car, they got lost in the larder and after 3 years they were sublime. So now I try and make a batch each year. Our oldest are 2 years old now. They taste good but not as good as the 3 year stuff.

  9. I’ve made my second batch of Sloe Gin this year; 2007 was my first (missed 2008 as did most brits).

    My sister-in-law mentioned making Lemon Gin this year and going by your excellent post and comments I’ve got to try it too; i’ve got 70cl of Gin left over from Sloe Gin making so will buy some lemons over the weekend.

    Didn’t think it would take 3 years to make though, but then again the best things in life are worth waiting for!

  10. Hi.
    I have been reading all the different gin recipes on this site and i am keen to give one or two a try. I would like to know if it is possible to use peaches or if anyone has tried it.
    Any info appreciated.

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