Having a point of difference is vital for any product, and along comes a brand new gin from South Australia that stands distinct in the crowded Australian craft gin scene.
Antipodes Gin is the brain child of Shane Reid and Rory Gration and is Australia’s first certified organic and carbon neutral gin.
With Australian craft spirits still only making up less than 5% of the spirits consumed in Oz, we’re talking a niche within a niche.
Overall the language of Australian gin to date has been about the place where its from, the personalities (usually a one or two man operation) and the botanicals chosen to make it distinct to its place and country, particularly when natives are used.
Shane and Rory have kept the look + feel deceptively simple… a minimalist website and a facebook page with some lovely shots taken by Shane, who’s a photographer by profession.
Produced in South Australia, which is seeing its own growth in several new + pending gin makers this year, but both Rory + Shane grew up in Australia’s citrus growing region, Sunraysia, and wanted a gin that reflected something of the country they knew.
Released in August 2015 after Australian Organic Certification, I was provided a sample bottle to review.
So does being organic + carbon neutral (admirable in themselves) make a difference to the end product beyond making one feel it is in the planet’s interests to pour yourself another glass?
Certainly it’s a serious commitment on their part as I understand that to maintain the certification, the production of Antipodes will be subject of audit every year and other requirements.
It would be challenging to find a place in what’s fast becoming cluttered range of gins.
Its an interesting moment for emerging gins in Australia (see my list of gins here) with another 10 or so in the pipeline that I’m aware of right now.
How to find a niche that offers a genuine expression, not just a product to stand out for the sake of it.
Their commitment to being organic is commendable, and affects not just the sources of the products and how its made, but the whole way their business operates.
Questions for the Makers
What was your inspiration to create the gin?
We first started talking about making a gin together about three years ago, but this year on Australia Day, we finally bit the bullet and registered our business, The Antipodes Gin Company.
We credit the amount of goodwill we’ve experienced not only to our gin’s incredible flavour, but also to what were our two absolute must-haves – being certified organic and carbon neutral. We see this as being a new benchmark for the Australian craft spirits industry.
We grew up together in Mildura. Now, living in two different cities with busy lives and young families, we wanted to create something that we could enjoy together with our friends and family. We wanted it to embody flavours that we feel are quintessentially Australian and that reflect our journey as Australians. We both grew up in the country’s citrus belt, Sunraysia, so of course sweet orange peel and lemon oil flavours feature prominently as well as native lemon myrtle. Both of us are passionate cooks and a longtime staple of both our kitchens – Tasmanian pepper berry – also features. All this sits alongside the essential Juniper berry hit.”
Why go organic?
Having a Certified Organic product was really important and not something that was just ‘organic’
Australian Certified Organic set a really high benchmark and have a very strong compliance program which extended to all of our suppliers (individual botanicals) as well as our other 3rd parties, logistics suppliers, warehousing, bonded storage, etc.
We could have launched 9mths prior without it, but it was part of the journey we wanted to go on and has become a strong part of the product offering and something that differentiates us in the market.
You must have gone through lots of botanical options, did you have an idea in mind of what you were after flavour wise, or did you get a eureka! moment?
We knew the kind of product we were after and wanted something bold enough to express itself outside of a G&T. We enjoy drinking certain gins neat and we wanted one that would deliver against that. It also had to flavourful enough to be drunk with something neutral like soda water without relying to heavily on a mixer like tonic.
Tasmanian Pepperberry really allowed us to find that botanical that helped unlock the gin and add another dimension to the gin, particularly around mouth feel and giving a lingering, warmth to it.
Not just using the Pepperberry but countless versions with different strengths and variants until we were happy with the right one that worked with all the other botanicals as well.
Growing up in Mildura, citrus is in our blood and wanted to include orange and lemon peels and oils in our gin without it being too fruity on the nose and palate.
Are there any challenges for the industry as a whole you can see, or is it still a land of opportunity for distillers?
We have a lot of respect for the Australian craft spirit industry and are thrilled to be a part of it.
We are all in our infancy when we look at the heritage of some of the global brands but everyone is quickly carving out a space for themselves.
Some innovative retailers and bars are also embracing this push and stocking a large amount of Aussie Craft spirits (and sometimes exclusively, Bad Frankie, Thrift Shop) which is an endorsement of the consumer demand for them.
There is plenty of room for more Aussie spirits as it will only continue to grow the category and encourage consumers to change their perception of drinking and trade up into more quality products and how to use them.
Our biggest challenge as an industry is more around tax reform and ensuring that we have a more level playing field when it comes to the way (the rate) excise is collected and passed onto consumers
How do you recommend people enjoy your gin?
Try Antipodes neat
In a G&T with a quality tonic and some orange peel (or lime)
In a Negroni
And of course a Martini…..
We are in the process of developing a signature drink that we will have in time for Summer using a Watermelon Tonic syrup.. Stay tuned!
Are there any future plans for other releases you can share?
Certified Organic and Carbon Neutral Vodka (and variants…)
Certified Organic and Carbon Neutral Tonic Syrup
2 further variants of our Antipodes Gin…
Like developing our flagship product, trial and error was a long, arduous and highly enjoyable process that we are applying to the above products as well!
Some of the gins I’ve reviewed recently feature native Pepperberry as botanical, as does Antipodes. But unlike the others, where its very front and centre, this is present in the background and offers a subtle spice note forward on the palette.
Likewise the juniper and other botanicals are very harmonious and quiet. To my taste this is a good thing.
What does stand out distinctively is a residual sweetness and a lingering lemon myrtle flavour which is really pleasant.
It comes in at 45% ABV and its alcohol isn’t very noticeable to taste or smell.
In a very dry Martini (10ml of Dolin to 50 ml of gin) the botanicals lifted some more and you get a dry finish, but not too austere, again with a lingering lemon semi-sweet note.
I wouldn’t add a lemon twist as a garnish to this, that would be too much, but some fresh lemon thyme would sing, but a olive garnish worked just fine.
Not a style for a dirty Martini though.
Overall effect is a soft and dry finish that is quite subtle and the residual sweetness very appealing and distinctive.
But it was in a G+T (fevertree tonic was used) that it was fantastic, zesty, clean and refreshing, just perfect. Just don’t use Schweppes, that would be way too sweet!
Sipping on ice would also be just fine.
Compared to gins with lots of native botanicals like Botanic Australis, or Stone Pine Dry Gin, this is a restrained expression, and sits in the middle of the current spectrum of Australian craft gins with the elegant McHenry Classic Dry style at the other end of flavours.
As I understand it, the makers wanted to evoke something of the Sunraysia region where they grew up on the border of Victoria and New South Wales and drinking Antipodes and its easy to imagine the summer landscapes of that neck of the woods.
Summer in a glass? Most definitely, and you’re doing your bit for the planet with every sip.
Nicely done lads.
- Read more about Antipodes gin on their website and their facebook page
- Connect with Antipodes via facebook or Instagram
- Purchase the Antipodes Gin is available through select outlets in Victoria + South Australia, with national release late in 2015,
- RPP is $74.99 for a 700ml bottle
- You can contact them direct via their website to order a bottle and an online shop is coming soon!
This review is of a unsolicited sample provided by the distillers. Opinions are my own.
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