Review: Forty Spotted Gin

IMG_0920I reckon 2015 will go down as a vintage year for new Australian gin releases.

The momentum for new (see list here) labels from around the country shows no sign of slowing down as new players and existing ones take advantage of the moment.

As I discussed in my recent post on World Gin Day, its all coming together: the audience, the venues, the technology and the craft.

Lucky us.

So from Tasmania comes this confident release from award winning team at Lark Distillery in Hobart.

Before we get to the spirit, its worth noting that they’ve gone for a high concept marketing campaign right out of the gate. For the uninitiated, Tasmania is renowned for its beauty, wilderness, purity of nature and some of the best food + wine in Australia.

They’re referenced all this in a video on their website, along with the sage advice:

“Life is a journey.
We should never stand still.
Never stop learning.
Never stop experiencing new things.
Never stop searching for the rare and beautiful.”

That said, the website offers several attractive recipes and other useful information.  They’ve chosen the native Tasmanian Mountain Pepper Berry as a key note, along with juniper berry, coriander and lemon peel distilled by hand in small copper pot stills aiming for a London Dry style gin.

mybottleshopMeet the Distiller, Chris Thomson, head distiller.

What was the inspiration for the gin?

The gin is the same gin we have been making for years and has been so popular locally in Tasmania. We have rebranded and tweaked the recipe just the slightest.  The inspiration is all about balance, Australia is producing lots of amazing gins but they all seem to be big flavoured gins.

We wanted something more subtle, elegant, complex but in a lighter style.

Being able to drink our gin straight or in a Martini was a must!

What’s in the pipeline we can look forward to?

We are playing with some seasonal releases at the moment, we really want to push the boundaries here! We have some great distillers with some great (and sometimes a little crazy) ideas, some fantastic relationships with people growing interesting things, and endless interesting botanicals to play with in Tas.

We have just released our winter release which is a beautifully balanced barrel aged gin, that is going really well. We have also been working on a spring release for the last few months…something to get excited about!

How do you distill the spirit?

We use the steep distillation technique for all our botanicals and most of our botanicals are distilled by themselves to be married together later. We use a little copper pot still.

You chose the Tasmania Mountain Pepper Berry as a signature note in the gin, is there something to be mindful when working with Australian botanicals?

All botanicals are different, I think this is the rule. Treat each botanical and distillation on its own merits no matter what they are and where they have come from. The Pepper Berry is my favourite distillation we do here, its sweet, oily and fills the distillery with the most amazing aroma.

We use it for both its incredible flavour but also the texture it brings to our gin. Its super silky.

Tasting Notes

  • Chilled Neat: mildly peppery and clean on the nose. Gentle on the palette, with no big alcholic hit, the Pepper Berry making itself known politely. Easy sipping style, would be good on ice with spicy food like a curry. It is also excellent in a Negroni by the way.
  • Dry Martini: I dialled back the vermouth for this one. My general rule is that the most pronounced the flavour of a gin, the less vermouth I use so they don’t clash.  I tried separately an olive and a thin lemon twist garnish and preferred the latter, and perhaps lemon thyme would work nicely too.
  • Overall it makes for a very successful cocktail, for me its reminiscent of the Beefeater style with plenty of spice notes and a full palette, with the Pepper Berry not dominating but lingers well.

The Take Home 

  • A very resolved spirit that balances the native botanicals with the traditional in fine fashion.

The Details

  • Website
  • Facebook page (also on twitter + Instagram
  • Purchase at Dan Murphy’s or online via Nicks, also via their own website
  • Price: $69.99 approx. plus handling for 700ml bottle (200ml also available)
  • ABV: 40%