Review: Botanic Australis Gin

Mark WatkinsFrom all the way from North Queensland comes a Gin that embraces everything the region has to offer.

I discovered this product, which was released late last year, at the Top Shelf Boutique Drinks Festival  in Melbourne at the Nip of Courage display.

I was immediately impressed with its approachable complexity and generous flavours, but in my experience you want to step out a few times together before making a commitment.

It made something a splash there amongst the Gin fans on the day, and it is yet another quality addition to the spectrum of Australian craft spirits.

Early in my hospitality career I worked in Port Douglas in far North Queensland, north of Cairns. I had driven around the area at Mt Uncle where this Gin hails from on the Atherton Tablelands, just inland from the coast. Its a landscape of banana plantations, sugar cane, cattle grazing and rainforest remnants. Not your usual Gin terroir!

The distillery is on the family farm of Mark Watkins, the distiller, and they’ve have been making liquors, vodka and rums for quite some while amongst the avocado, macadamia nuts and banana plantations.

Now a place that also makes a pink ” SexyCat Marshmallow Liqueur” may have you raising an eyebrow, but lets keep an open mind for the moment!

Gin Botanic Australis

If you’ve been reading my other Australian Gin reviews, you’ll note that I’m starting to get a sense of a spectrum of expressions of Gin from around the country.

There is certainly a confident, sophisticated and contemporary approach to the Gins coming out, each with distinct personalities- many using native botanics to varying degrees.

From my restaurant days I can say that these natives tend to be potent in flavour and need some experience in making the most of them else they dominate the palette too much with their intensity.

Botanic Australis draws on 14, which to my knowledge is more than any other Australian Gin:

  • Juniper
  • Peppermint Gum
  • Anise Myrtle
  • Wattle Seed
  • Pepper Berry
  • Cinnamon Myrtle
  • Lilly Pilly
  • Lemon Myrtle
  • Lemon Scented Gum
  • Eucalyptus Olida
  • Finger Lime
  • Native Ginger
  • River Mint
  • Bunya Nut.

Now that’s potential a train wreck of intense flavours. But having grown up with them, I suspect Mark knew what he was about from the get-go.

Meet the Distiller, Mark Watkins, Mt. Uncle Distillery

How did you come to be a distiller of Gin?  

Honestly – my initial thoughts were…………it would be a good way to pick up chicks!!  (Respect! – Pj) This developed into a more profound interest of the make up of gin and the science behind it.

What do you make of the seeming sudden explosion of quality Aussie Gins on the market?  

It’s wonderful to see more Gin makers coming out of the woodwork and pushing into the industry.  This in turn is allowing for more recognition for Australian distillers to be seen across the globe.

What was your inspiration or starting point in crafting the Gin?  

I  wanted to produce an Australian themed Gin that had the majority Australian Botanics rather than just 1 or 2.  

The original recipe is over 300 years old – the traditional London Dry, which have then adapted to include my chosen Australian ingredients.

Your Gin seems very much of its place- is that important to you?  

Yes of course. The end result is as exactly as I envisaged from the initial concept.

 How do you go about sourcing your ingredients? 

We wild harvest and grow as much of the botanics as we can ourselves and around the distillery and other farms.  The remaining ingredients are sourced from reputable suppers all over the country.

How do you see your Gin in the spectrum of craft Gins and Australian spirits generally?  

I think that the complexity and flavour profile of Botanic Australis Gin is unrivalled in the Australian market place due to the unique combination of botanics and distillation techniques.

How do you recommend people garnish your spirit as a mixed drink or solo?  

Gin Martini with a twist of lemon zest is my personal favourite.

Phillip A. Jones esq.

Tasting Notes

1. Neat, room temperature: on the nose it is semi-sweet, with hints of lime with an alcohol top note.

Taste-wise it was surprisingly aniseed-like and zesty, with hints of citrus and a subtle and pleasant lingering finish of liquorice and spice with a very full mouth feel on the palette.

2. Gin and Tonic, 30 mls with single slice of lime and Fever Tree Tonic.

At first I thought it was completely lost in the drink. The Fever Tree (gold label) being super dry being the perfect foil for a Gin as it doesn’t mask its flavours, so it took a while to open up.

Perhaps I should have made it a double!

You don’t get the aniseed notes noted earlier, rather its more earthy and it reminded me of the Bombay Sapphire East version which features Thai Lemongrass, and Vietnamese Peppercorns which to my mind is superior to the original style of that Gin.

So its quite a different spirit in a G+T and offers a subtle, earthy experience.

3. Dry Martini, 10ml of Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth and Olive.  On the nose you get a bright, fragrant, lemony-spicy aroma. Again, its quite subtle.

On tasting its a summery vibe. Frankly, its delicious. You get a very dry clean finish, with a backbone of alcoholic acidity (not unpleasant). What you’re left with after a sip is a crisp, spicy, and delicate citrus notes, and as it warms up those earthy notes reappear.

With a lemon twist, you may wish to be careful, you don’t want to drown out the delicate botanicals, and you may wish to work with Dolin Vermouth instead and test the results.

Dangerously good.

Recommended: 4 stars.

The Take Home

What shouldn’t work with all those native botanicals does work splendidly in this Gin. Its a refined offering and that would reward some experimenting with garnishes and mixes to bring out its different facets.

Attractive packaging, nice to see all the ingredients listed too, make for a quality product.

When I offered smells and tastes to the group at a recent Martini master class it was an instant pleaser.

So from North Queensland and a talented young distiller comes a Gin of note.

Details

  • Website: www.mtuncle.com
  • Facebook page here
  • Cost: They offer a 750ml for $70.00 direct, plus shipping
  • Retail Purchase via their website here (Canberra locals stay tuned for Plonk at Fyshwick to carry it soon)
  • Canberra bars carrying it include the Polit Bar in Manuka, and Ox Bar at the East Hotel.

This review is of an unsolicited bottle provided courtesy of the distributors.

7 thoughts on “Review: Botanic Australis Gin

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