In a semi-delapitated early 20th warehouse in the Adelaide Hills, there is some distilling magic happening.
I arrived just in time for lunch. ‘We’re having meat, I hope you like meat,’ announced Brendan. So it was. Lots of meat on the BBQ. Fine by me. The fact that I brought a bottle of Canberra Gin for them was also well received. We cracked that, sang its praises, and got on with the business of getting lunch organised.
This is a new thing apparently, taking time to stop work and actually have a break and eat something. They were in the middle of harvest and it was all hands on deck. But they made time for me and for a few hours the conversation was all things distilling, gin, the craft spirit scene and their plans for the future.
Once we’d polished off the steaks and salad, sampling some fine wine and the last of the tonic syrup they’d created for Noma in Sydney, the team including Brendan Carter’s wife Laura, who is involved in all aspects of the production and business, and a couple of team members got back to business of putting the harvest for their winery Unico Zelo (yes, that too) into barrels. You can read more about that venture and Brendan and Laura in this Adelaide Hills Magazine profile here.
Brendan showed me about, and they were a bit excited about getting a new cabin soon installed on site, as opposed to the rustic conditions they were enjoying to date!
The enormous old warehouse was only partially habitable, but the parts that were was geared toward the production of spirits and wine. Everything else is taking second place including creature comforts.
The warm hospitality, dedication to their vision, absolute commitment to excellence and imagination says everything about this talented duo.
The young couple are also involved with the development of spirits for other makers, believing that there is scope for all boats to rise together in the industry.
Q+A with Brendan
How do you see the future of Australian craft gins evolving in the next couple of years?
I see a deeper exploration of native produce, and in particular – fresh produce in the array of Gins we (collectively as Australians) produce. I also expect to see locally grown alternatives or substitutes to traditional ingredients that have been historically imported. Australian Juniper could well-be a thing, with a very wide range of climates and areas suitable for planting.
I believe Australia will begin to expand the gin offerings beyond bushy-herbaceous-orange-grapefruit-citrus-dominant styles, and begin to offer examples with more niche interest, such as floral and savoury alternatives.
What was the inspiration behind the gin?
From the outset we were searching for mid-palate-weight in our gin – a quality that assists in mitigating the burn and harshness usually associated with citrus-dominant gin – and a qualm often noted by first-time gin drinkers.
We wanted to add diversity to the immense width and breadth of gins that have quickly come to market over the past five years and (as an overly ambitious goal) help challenge the creative boundaries of how we’re collectively crafting gin, as we showcase with our limited edition examples.
Do you draw on any local botanicals to inform your gin?
- Neat: Delicate and fragrant nose (a lady friend said she would wear it as a perfume!) no one botanical dominating, some citrus coming through subtly. On the palette, it presents a light weight, with an astringent finish up front with Juniper, Coriander and some of the Ginger making their presence felt. It comes across as an integrated number that is refined and no alcoholic hit or pungency.
- Martini: This Gin is a match made in heaven for a Martini. It offers the crisp length and complexity I look for. The alchemy of the Vermouth and Gin means that you get a spicier, but still refined experience. Fans of Jensen’s and Sipsmith will relish this gin and its very much in that polished style, still presenting its own fresh character.
The Take Home: Everything about this gin is first class. It’s a perfect expression of the classic London Dry style but feels contemporary. It balances the classic botanicals of Juniper Berries, Coriander Seed, Angelica Root,Lemon and Orange Peel along with the touches of Ginger Root, Lemon Myrtle, Earl Grey Tea, Lavender, Vanilla, Cardamom, Macadamia in a completely harmonious way. 5 Stars.
Its not for nothing that I chose this Gin to be one of the stars at the 2016 World Martini Day soiree in June in Canberra.
- Applewood Website
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- Where to purchase: Check first with your local independent bottle shop, Australia-wide and in New Zealand – or available from their website! If it’s not stocked at your local – let them know!
- RRP $69.99 per 500ml
- ABV 43%