If you’ve been counting, and goodness knows I do my best to stay on top with the frenetic release of Australian Gins, I think there are well over 150 Australian Gins available currently from over 130 craft distillers.
So you have to passionate, brave and certain of your skills to enter a crowded market.
Doubly so if you debut your spirit in a place known around the world for its Rum: Bundaberg in Queensland.
I’ve family who live there and visit from time to time. It’s the real deal: no pretence. A down to earth place with sugar cane, cattle, trucks, a love of footy with a strong pride in itself. It will take a flood or cyclone, spit it out and come together as a strong community.
So when Rick Prosser and his family decided to branch out and set up the city’s first ever Gin distillery, and craft brewery, it took some self belief.
However, he did have experience in spades in distilling, and to his credit recently won Bronze at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. This was achieved in 2 categories – the London Dry and Fevertree Gin & Tonic. Not too bad.
Let’s have a chat with Distiller, Rick Prosser
How do you see your products in the spectrum of Australian Craft Spirits?
I think with it being a new product in a now solid market it holds its own in a quality scene, It’s important that there is a high level of quality in the products I release as it has become very easy for consumers especially now in regional areas to compare local or international spirits, in years gone by you would have to trek to the cellar door to sample products but now with the major chains having a great deal of Australian products on their shelf it keeps a high production standard and new producers have to be on the ball.
Also, with being situated in a town that has been heavily influenced by one producer and one product for such a long time it puts each new beverage that enters the local market such as Gin or Vodka released to the local public under the microscope so maintaining a quality tasting product is key for myself and the brand as we continue to grow.
Can you share some of the botanicals that go into the Gin
I have Juniper, Coriander, Angelica Root, Cardamom but have also added some of our locally grown Lemon & Cinnamon myrtle as well as Bundaberg’s famous ginger and some native finger lime.
What’s it like making Gin in a Rum town.
It has been very refreshing both for the town and myself individually, the local response to Gin has been very well received and it has also been a great education drink for the region.
Most locals who visit our Distillery are very new to drinking Gin and or have previously thought the only way to consume it was with tonic, Bundaberg is a town built on sugar and Rum, so we find once we introduce it to the consumer with a sweeter mixer and do some education on the history and how its produced there usually on board and prepared to give it a go, the locals are very loyal and love seeing new business having a go.
Personally, I love producing Gin as it takes me into a category that’s relatively new to me which is a pleasant change away from Rum production which I did for over a decade at Bundaberg Rum.
Did it take you a while to crack the Gin botanical mix?
To a degree it did, I learnt very early on that certain botanicals can be very powerful and overwhelming to the blend, but overall, I took it pretty steady with a lot of little bench top distillation before upscaling production.
My recipes are simple and not to over complicated and I’m the first to admit I’m still learning plenty about what various botanicals add to the flavour and profile of Gin.
Once I had my 2 recipes completed for the companies Premium and Classic Gin’s It then become key to maintain consistent production of each product and good quality from start to finish.
What were some of the challenges you had in establishing your Distillery?
The biggest challenge first and foremost was capital to set up, I was extremely lucky that I had a team of family and friends behind me that trusted my vision and were prepared to help with finance of the company, one of the main things I’m extremely proud of is the company was set up on a shoe string budget, another thing I was extremely lucky to have was the Bundaberg locals in my corner, like previously mentioned they are a loyal bunch and love seeing the little guy having a go.
The licensing of the Distillery went very well with no hold ups, all departments from local council to ATO Excise and Qld liquor and gaming were all very helpful, we were fully licensed in around 3 months.
Was there an eureka moment when you knew you’d nailed the spirit’s development?
There were a couple key moments along the way with the first actually happening before I had even contemplating making Gin, I was away seeing family when I came across an Australian Distillery that was producing Gin and I was absolutely blown away by the product they produced. It was a real game changer for me and sent me on a gin crusade exploring and tasting as many products as possible while conducting research and learning as much about the spirit as I could.
Even to this day I’m still happy to be constantly learning about the spirit , the development moments happened early on when I was receiving positive feedback from family & friends with the bench top pilot batches, it really put a spring in my step hearing reviews early on especially from those who drink Gin that it was tasting good and I was on the right track.
How do you recommend people enjoy your Gin?
The popular mix still seems to be with Tonic, again with Bundaberg being new to Gin there is a lot of education still to be had in terms of ways to drink.
We stock and promote Fever tree products to go with our Gin and its always very well received especially the Elderflower and The Mediterranean, as for cocktails I’d have to leave that one for the mixologists once it gets into their hands or maybe The Martini Whisperer could “Insert here a recommendation.“ (MW > see below!!)
- Nose: Intensely floral and spicy with bright pine-lime and lemon notes from the finger lime and myrtle making their presence known in a polite way.
- Neat: Slightly musky and very forward on the palette, with a bone dry lingering finish, the Lemon & Cinnamon Myrtle a little dominant and some gentle spice staying around.
- Martini: With a Gin so dry and intense in its flavours, you’ll want a light touch in a Martini. I reckon it would sing with Maidenii’s Dry Vermouth (just about 5mls to 55mls of Gin) for a complete Australian experience in a glass. Or the classic Dolin Dry Vermouth or Regal Rouge Dry (see my article about Vermouth here). For a garnish, opt for a lemon twist.
- Gin + Tonic: This is where the Gin comes into own, as suggested above. The intensity of the neat Gin is now turned into a drink with plenty of length of refreshing flavours. You could have some fun with the garnishes I reckon here, think about a slice of Blood Orange, or fresh Rosemary instead of a boring lemon slice.
The Take Home
This small batch Gin is an accomplished debut and manages to steer clear of what I sometimes see in Australian gin makers: creating a flavour profile using native botanicals that boxes in the sprit in terms of versatility by being too reliant on them, or too intense.
Rick has crafted a Gin that still speaks of place, but is welcome anywhere. He’s used the native Myrtle, Finger Lime and local Ginger intelligently, and the Gin offers generous flavours that is a great take on the London Dry Style that can enjoyed anyway you like. 3.5 Stars.
- ABV 42% ABV
- Find their website here
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- Purchase / RRP: Available through Dan Murphys in Central Queensland plus selected outlet in Sydney and Melbourne for $79.00
- Direct from Distillery for $74.95 (plus postage)
Disclaimer: this review is of an unsolicited sample provided by the distributor, opinions expressed regarding the product are my own.