Inspired by the Snowy Mountains region comes a new distillery.
Late last year I was approached by distiller Lucas Cattell to sample his new releases.
It’s no small thing to embark on a distilling journey and put the fruits of your passion out into already crowded Australian craft spirit market. However, Catcher & Co does offer one important point of difference: they use their own spring water sourced on site.
The Snowy Mountains are a couple of hours south of Canberra (where I live) and in the Winter we can see (just) in the distance the snow capped ranges from the city. Its bracing country, but for who live in the Northern Hemisphere, don’t think high peaks like the Rockies, think more high country ranges which offer a beautiful and unspoilt part of the world with a sparse population scattered about on farms and small towns.
Catcher and Co started off as a brewery taking advantage of the natural ingredients in the region. They’re open 7 days and offer coffee in case you’re driving, so if you’re heading down towards the snow fields, its just south of Cooma.
Q+A with Lucas
With some many gins and vodka’s already on the market, did you hesitate in bringing your own spirits to the market?
Not at all. There is a huge market in Australia and internationally for vodka and gin and I think we have only scratched the surface. There is room for more within the industry and people love the variety available. #cantmatchsmallbatch
What was your inspiration to bring your gin to fruition?
Stephen Dobson from Dobsons Distillery. Back in 2012 I worked with him for a period and after many experiments he convinced me that Gin had a huge future in Australia, so we started working a recipe that matched our love of rich full flavoured foods. We started with a base and over the last 3 years I have slowly tweaked the recipe to get it where it is today.
How do you see the future of Australian craft spirits evolving in the next couple of years?
Australian craft spirits are still in their infancy and there are so many distilleries come up with amazing products. We consider it a privilidge to work in such a close nit and supportive industry that is ready to take on the world one shot glass at a time.
Do you gain inspiration from your local region?
Absolutely. Home of the Snowy Hydro Electric Scheme, the area is a multicultural hub and full of amazing and friendly people. From traditional homemade grappa, ouzo, slivovitz, limoncello, moonshine, schnapps, as well as gin and vodka, I have been fortunate to try them all in this region and they have all really inspired me. I have worked closely with a local health food store, which specialises in a wide variety of herbs and spices, to develop the recipe we use today.
Noting you’re a brewer of beer as well, did that experience inform the way you distilled the gin?
I started brewing when I was 18 (some 15 years ago) at home in order to save some money. It turned very quickly into a weekly ritual. Over time I slowly progressed to distilling, which in turn became the passion it is today. I find having a brewing background definitely assists in the progress of our distilled product range.
I have tried many methods of distillation and have found our column reflux still to be extremely efficient and delivers an amazing product over and over again. The Gin, full of spices, was reflective of our local multicultural community and our love of flavoursome foods, from which many of the ingredients in our gin were obtained.
How do recommend people drink your spirits?
Bathtub Gin is best in a Gin & Tonic, with a dash of lime. As a cocktail, it makes a killer Tom Collins.
You can discover more about Catcher & Co via their Kickstarter pitch video.
The term ‘bathtub gin’ comes from the Prohibition era in the 1920’s suggesting the gin was made in a bathtub with an infusion of botanicals (or goodness knows what) in spirit. Mix, wait and bottle- eek! Happily Lucas know’s what he’s on about.
Triple distilled in small batches, the gin starts with a juniper spirit, then infused for a month with 14 botanicals including lavender, pepper, cloves, anise, cardamon and a dash of citrus, then aged on American Oak. Hence the slight amber colour in the gin.
- Neat: On the nose it has a distinct honey note, pleasant aromatics, not hit of alcohol. Its very rounded on the palette, with a clean dry finish, with the semi-sweet flavours forward, caramel notes, perfect for sipping.
- With Tonic: Works very well using a neutral style Tonic water like Capi or Fever Tree is the way you want to go here, with the natural sweetness of the gin coming through. I’d also think about mixing up the garnishes – dried blood orange or grapefruit to tease out the citrus and cut through the sweetness a little.
- Martini: well I tried, but this is a style of gin that doesn’t lend it self to that format. You could experiment in mixed cocktails, perhaps in a White Negroni, but its really best in a G+T or neat over ice.
The Take Home
I think it was a good idea to debut with a gin that is distinctive and approachable. This spirit is an accomplished product that is shows how diverse the gin category is now in its expressions. Simply delicious, the Bathtub Gin from Catcher & Co is sure you make your world a better place.
- 750ml bottle $70.00 / 375ml $40 / 100ml / $15
- 750ml bottle $65.00 / 375ml $35 / 100ml / $15
- Purchase direct: via website
- Find them on facebook
- Tune in via Instagram
Where to Purchase
- Available for purchase at the Distillery
- The Whisky Company, Melbourne
Also available behind the bar at:
- Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa
- The Australian Hotel Cooma
- Grain Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
- The Smith & George Restaurant Parramatta
Disclaimer: this review is of an unsolicited bottle provided by the makers, views are my own.