Carving a niche in the booming craft gin market in Australia is becoming a challenge I think.
I suspect there is a reckoning in the coming year or two where, alas, not every maker will thrive and get the return on their investment, at least in the short term.
With over 60 gins available in Australia – with another 10 or more I know of in the pipeline- both new labels or new releases from existing makers- to debut a new product requires not a little confidence.
The upside of being a later entrant into the market is that you can learn from others who’ve gone before.
So, a few weeks back the team from online spirit purveyors, White Possum, arranged for me to receive a debut bottle of their new gin. They’ve also released a vodka and coffee spirit too available from their website.
The gin comes from the Kentucky in New South Wales, and the fine print on the bottle indicating that its made in collaboration with the long established Dobson’s Distillery whose own gin is a lovely expression of its own and some of the prettiest labels in the business.
This distillery uses only one of six working Carter Head stills. This method sees the botanicals infused by the alcoholic vapours as they pass through a suspended basket. The result is that the volatile oils and other nasties are left behind and not tainting the distillation.
In the case of Grasslands gin, it has gone down the citrus forward route, and the name is well chosen for its nose definitely evokes summery floral botanicals. Their website indicated that they’ve sourced many of the botanicals locally.
At a recent dinner party I improvised a vinaigrette for oysters to great success using four parts chilled simple syrup, finely chopped cucumber + fresh coriander and one part gin, this was a great success!
Q+A with White Possum
- With the gin boom still going strong, what was your inspiration to bring your gin to fruition?
- Our experience in running our popular craft spirits subscription meant that we’ve tasted and showcased a wide range of local gins. In doing so, we’ve slowly pinpointed our sense of an ‘ideal gin’, based on what how we like to drink it. It made sense for us to release a gin which reflected this particular taste profile. Of course, everyone has their own preferences, so we wanted to share our own and help build up the variety of Australian gin.
- Is there something about its place of distilling that informs the gin?
- We were inspired by the high plains of NSW (where the gin is made) to arrive at the name ‘Grasslands Gin’. Many of the botanicals included in this gin are grown on-site at the distillery. But we’ll be frank – these are plants which could grow elsewhere too!
- How do you see the future of Australian craft gins evolving in the next couple of years?
- There will be much more experimentation around flavour profiles, with both native and imported botanicals being used in increasingly unfamiliar combinations. But through this increasingly broad taste ‘spectrum’, there will be the ones that resonate with most drinkers, either due to a genuine ‘default Australian style’ that emerges, or simply due to bigger marketing budgets. Envisaging the industry to follow the events and outcome of the American craft beer boom isn’t at all far-fetched.
- Do you have any advice to professional bartenders in approaching your gin?
- This gin is designed to please the nose as much as the tastebuds. With the citrus accent on an otherwise floral base, this gin does well in a more concentrated G&T. Also suited to a Negroni. As for a Martini – let me hold back on making any comments on that as you are clearly the expert here 🙂
- Is there a challenge when making craft spirits ensuring there is a consistent result for each distilling batch?
- Less so for gin than aged spirits. Obviously for aged spirits there is the uncertainty of wood type, ageing profile and weather that all play a part. But in our opinion gin can be reliably recreated with careful controls/processes in place.
- How do recommend people drink your gin?
- In a stronger-than-usual G&T. And in any cocktails that would be assisted by a citrus accent. Be guided by thy nose.
- Was there are an Eureka! moment in the development of Grasslands Gin ?
- Not really. Its a constant tuning process. Figuring out a way to make the possum tail cut-out on the label was certainly a positive moment though!
- Neat: On the nose you definitely get hits of sweetness, lime and lemongrass. This follows through on the palette where its quite forward, rounded, not particularly dry on the finish and a residual lemon and some spice reminding you that the classic juniper and friends are there too. Sipping this on ice is not out of the question. You’ll note a slight cloudiness to the spirit but don’t be alarmed.
- Gin + Tonic: This is definitely the business here and the gin has been designed for this. Its lush flavours work well when extended by the tonic and I think you could play with garnishes such as dried blood orange or grapefruit, cucumber slices work very nicely too. Again, skip the sweet Schweppes and opt for another drier tonic water to allow this gin to shine through.
- Martini: I think this pushed the gin out of its comfort zone a little, but not out of the question. You’ll want to go very easy on the vermouth, using the austere Dolin dry vermouth for instance, or use a Lillet Blanc wash in your glass with a lime or lemon garnish.
The Take Home
A generously flavoured debut gin that is approachable, rounded, delicious and versatile. Its been well crafted by an experienced team making for a gin that is gregarious
So if you’re looking to dive into Australian craft spirits and have held back because you weren’t sure how to work with them, then this is a great way to start. 3.5 stars
- Website: http://www.whitepossum.com.au/
- White Possum Facebook page
- Price: $49
- ALB: 40%
- Purchase directly from White Possum via their website.
Disclosure: this review is of an unsolicited bottle provided by the maker, views are my own.
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