As you know, I collaborated with Gintonica last year to debut the very successful Australian Gin Advent Calendar which sold out its 1000 sets!
It was picked up my media around the world to rave reviews for its quality and value. Here’s a sample from the UK!
It came with 24 x 50ml individually labelled Gins from around Australia, plus distillers tasting notes, drinking insights and suggestions by me, plus a map of Australian distilleries.
Each day I published on the Martini Whisperer facebook page at 5pm my own tasting notes for that day’s Gin.
So now the surprises are all done with, here’s the full suite of notes that you may find handy. The following is order of the calendar.
The Melbourne Gin Company, Dry Gin (42% ABV)
This Gin from the Yarra Valley in Victoria emerged just as the current craze was starting and has been a quiet achiever, and in my top 10 Australian gins. Its a balanced and complex gin, with layers of flavour with no particular botanical dominant – making it a versatile number, but you can pick up and I enjoy the ‘bass notes of the angelica root, orris root and cassia bark.
I love this in a Dry Martini with an olive garnish, and in a G+T try a grapefruit or blood orange slice.
Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS), Wild Gin (43% ABV)
From beautiful Kangaroo Island, made by Australian distilling royalty, Jon and Sarah Lark, this London Dry style gin is classic Aussie gin and uses a local juniper style berry in a marriage with the other botanicals. Expect lime, mint and juniper notes with a warm lingering slightly sweet finish.
One the pioneers of Australian gin and using local botanicals.
Its a versatile Gin and you can make a cracker of a Martini with this (with a twist or fresh thyme as a garnish) or a G+T with strawberry and ground pepper as a garnish.
Find out more at: https://www.kispirits.com.au
Loch Brewery & Distillery, The Weaver – Loch Australian Gin (50% ABV)
Another Victorian Gin from the Gippsland District. I’ve worked with the Weaver before and featured it in a World Gin Day dinner where made up my welcome Martini married with fresh thyme and a big dose of Orange Bitters.
Another Navy Strength style gin at 50% ABV giving it plenty of spice and a big feel on the palette. Masculine you might say.
This gin doesn’t get lost in a classic Negroni – you’ll get plenty of spice and punch here, or in a Martini I reckon it works a treat in a Dirty Version, with plenty of dry vermouth and olive brine.
Sullivans Cove, Hobart No. 4 Single Malt Gin (44% ABV)
You’re in safe hands here. From the same folk in Hobart who produce some say the world’s best Single Malt, comes a singular gin. This is one of those gins best suited to sipping neat, or on ice to appreciate its rich, malty spice notes. There’s also some native botanicals in the mix lending anise and and pepper notes.
It makes for an interesting Negroni too, I reckon up the gin ratio and dial back the sweet vermouth a little to get the best result.
This is a thinking persons gin, beautifully crafted.
- Find out more at https://sullivanscove.com/range/gin/hobart-no-4/
- My in-depth review of the first release of this gin is here
Anther Spirits, Australian Distilled Gin (44% ABV)
From inner Melbourne comes this complex gin that includes some local eucalyptus and citrus finger limes in the botanical mix and some red ginger. This makes for a flavoursome and lively gin with a pleasant spicy punch.
It’s pretty versatile and I reckon its a cracker in a G+T where you can get creative with the garnish, perhaps some fresh thyme or grapefruit slice and cracked black pepper on top. Perfect for summer.
Formerly known as Artemis Gin this is a versatile and approach number from the cocktail capital of the world!
- Find out more at: http://www.anther.com.au
McHenry Classic London Dry (40% ABV)
From Tasmania comes one of the most elegant of Australian Gins in my opinion. The classic London Dry style botanicals are there plus star anise, cardamon and orris root.
I’ve made plenty a great Martini (dry) with fresh lemon thyme as a garnish, or a lemon twist works perfect fine.
Of course a classic G+T is on the money too, keep it simple -its a delicate gin so let it shine.
Situated just near Port Arthur, the Distillery has several of its own natural springs with some of the most pure water in the world to draw on sustainably. One of the best out there.
Margaret River Distilling Company, Giniversity Barrel Aged (49% ABV)
In the beautiful Margaret River region of Western Australia they are crafting more than just superb wines. Produced by the Margaret River Distilling Company your Day 7 Gin is barrel aged.
Barrel Aged Gins are just that…. left in a previously used barrel to impart flavours and colour to a specially designed gin. Head distiller Head Distiller, Professor Bec Cameron used pinot noir oak cask for 6 months to create this gin.
If you want Christmas in a glass this comes pretty close. Very easy to sip, this small batch gin will give you a slightly sweet delicate experience that will be over too soon!
Savour, neat, or on ice.
- Find out more at: http://www.distillery.com.au/copy-of-distilleries
Adams Distillery, Turbo Gin (55% ABV)
From Perth Tasmania, this Gin is in the Navy Strength style, meaning, among other things, that its Alcohol by Volume is higher than your usual gin which sits about 42%-44% ABV.
Adams Turbo Gin get its motor running at 55% ABV.
What this means taste wise is that it has extra heat and spice up front but is still all smooth at the end as it purrs along your palette like a nice V8 engine.
You’ll get plenty of pepper and lime in the flavour profile. I reckon some company for the gin and recommend a Martini as you like it, or a Negroni, easy on the Campari.
If Dirty Martinis are your thing, then go for, add some extra Dry Vermouth and add a teaspoon at a time of olive brine to taste as you’re mixing until you’re happy!
- Find out more here: https://www.adamsdistillery.com.au
Manly Spirits Co, Australian Dry Gin
Manly is a special part of Sydney, a short ferry ride to the city across the most beautiful harbour in the world, and gorgeous beaches with a laid back vibe. So when this distillery was established in 2017 they wanted to capture the essence of the place in the spirit. They also created a lovely distillery to visit with its marine vibe.
The Australian Dry Gin is the essence of summer by the sea using a wheat spirit base and local sea lettuce (!) and native botanicals like finger lime, and anise myrtle and finger lime, plus some orange peel, juniper etc- the result being a very approachable and moorish gin with peppery spice at the back of the palette, but zesty citrus notes up front.
No need to overthink your Summer drinking here, G+T time or on ice with a slice of orange.
- Find out more here: http://manlyspirits.com.au/gin/
Four Pillars Spiced Negroni (43.8% ABV)
It doesn’t get much easier than this, and in the festive season you don’t want to have to work too hard for your cocktail right?
From the Victorian uber distillers who need no introduction for their stylish and popular gin, Four Pillars Gin, comes this number that’s done all the thinking for you.
Ginger, Blood Orange, Tasmanian Pepper Berry and a bunch of other special ingredients means all you need to do find some decent Sweet Vermouth (look out for the Maidenii version), some Campari, an old fashioned glass, some ice and a slice of orange.
Pour, stir, sip.
- Discover more about Four Pillars here: https://www.fourpillarsgin.com.au
- My in-depth review of their other gin is here.
Killara Distillery, Apothecary Gin (40% ABV)
From the distilling powerhouse of Tasmania, crafted by second generation distiller Kristy Booth-Lark, daughter of the godfather (in the nicest possible way) of Australian Distilling, Bill Lark.
You’re in safe hands here with each of the ten botanicals individually distilled then blended giving the spirit finesse with attractive juniper piney notes up front and a lingering palette with lots of complexity.
This Gin works great in a Negroni, Martini (I’d opt for a lemon twist) or in a classic G+T.
- Find out more about Apothecary Gin here: http://killaradistillery.com/product/apothecary-gin/
Patient Wolf Distilling Co., Patient Wolf Premium Dry Gin (41.5% ABV)
From inner city Melbourne, this London Dry style gin is full flavoured and balanced, with plenty of coriander and peppercorn spice so you can expect a warm, rich palette overall.
For my part, I think this was one of the most accomplished releases this year by Melbourne lads Matt Argus and Dave Irwin who, armed with a very lovely copper still 230L Muller copper still custom built in Germany, took three years to perfect a modern London Dry expression that is versatile, classy with some local touches.
There is a lot going on with this gin if you want to get to know it, but heck, it’s the festive season so let’s skip to the chase: it sings in a Negroni and in also in a Martini.
- Find out more here: http://www.patientwolfgin.com/
Margaret River Distilling Company, Giniversity London Dry (40% ABV)
Lucky Day 13! That means more of the good stuff from Western Australia.
Distilled by the Margaret River Distilling Company, they have created a lovely number that is clean and crisp. This gin also features a local botanical Meen, a relative of Kangaroo paws, that lends a pepper or slightly curry flavour in the finish.
This lovely gin is approachable, elegant and is destined for a Dry Martini, or neat over ice for an easy drinking style.
- Find out more here: http://www.distillery.com.au/thedistilleries
The West Winds – The Broadside (58% ABV)
If you’ve seen the movie Master + Commander, you know what to expect with this one!
It sails along as a Navy Strength Gin at 58% ABV and the botanicals include sea parsley and sea salt, with plenty of juniper and citrus and a long anise note palette to finish.
Like your Gin that doesn’t take any prisoners and has a hairy chest and muscles? Well then drink on!
It makes for a killer Dirty Martini, or on ice with a dash of tonic and some ruby grapefruit.
- Discover more about The West Winds Gin: http://www.thewestwindsgin.com
Settlers Spirits, Old Tom Gin (43% ABV)
Old Tom Gin is style that predates the usual London Dry style that most Gins are these days.
It’s richer than your usual Gin taste, and this spirit from the Barossa Valley in South Australia has some extra dimensions with some Liquorice Root, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cloves in the botanical mix.
I enjoy this just on ice really, or a G+T with thinly sliced lemon, let it speak for itself and enjoy its old style complexity, with plenty of anise lingering flavour. Delicious.
- Find out more about Settlers Spirits in South Australia here: http://settlersspirits.com.au/settlersspirits/Home.html
- Read my in-depth review of their other gin here.
Kilderkin ‘Scoundrel’ London Dry Gin (42% ABV)
From Ballarat in Victoria, this is a new distillery making spirits in small batches. In addition to the usual suspects of orris root, citrus and coriander, the Gin has grains of paradise, cinnamon verum, green and brown cardamom in the botanical mix.
The resulting gin at 42% ABV is balanced, very clean and dry on the palette and not overly spiced or flavoured one way or the other, which means you can make it your own. Versatile, plenty of complexity, so make yourself at home in a cocktail, a long G+T with your favourite garnish.
- Discover more about Kilderkin on their website here:
The Abel Gin Co, Quintessence Native Tasmania Gin (42% ABV)
This Tasmanian Gin is definitely inspired by its home, and its chief distiller and blender Natalie Fryar and her business partner Kim Seagram’s have sourced local botanicals to make this small batch Gin that is complex that will make you stop what you’re doing and pay attention to what’s in your glass.
They wanted to create a spirit that captured the smells and inspiration of the natural beauty around them.
The result is a pleasantly intense and complex Gin destined for Medium Dry Martini, or Dirty style if you like, or on ice- close your eyes and imagine yourself in Tassie.
- Find out more here: https://abelgin.com.au
Anther Spirits, Australian Distilled Gin (44% ABV)
From inner Melbourne comes this complex gin that includes some local eucalyptus and citrus finger limes in the botanical mix and some red ginger. The result of a collaboration between scientist Dervilla McGowan and hospitality pro Sebastian Reaburn.
You can even swing past and see it made at the Craft & Co on hip Smith St, Collingwood.
This makes for a flavoursome and lively gin with a pleasant spicy punch.
It’s very versatile and I reckon its a cracker in a G+T where you can get creative with the garnish, perhaps some fresh thyme or grapefruit slice and cracked black pepper on top.
PS this originally debuted as Artemis Gin but changed its name in 2017.
- Discover more here: https://www.anther.com.au
McHenry Old English Sloe Gin (26% ABV)
A really special gin today, and a very old style unlike the rest in your set! There’s a few Sloe Gins now available but this is up there with the best in the World, you’re in for a treat.
Hand picking Sloes in Winter in Tasmania is not for wimps, then each berry is hand treated by multiple pricks before resting in spirit and a few other ingredients over several months before one can make the gin.
It doesn’t get more craft than this, and its a distinct taste unlike any other.
I suggest you sip a little neat before doing anything to get an experience. Not sweet, not sour, somewhere in the middle.
Neat is fine, but I’ve make a cocktail with a small dash of blended scotch (10ml) , a blackberry, an orange rind, a raspberry (fresh) and a little dash of hot water for a warming glass of deliciousness that I can the Sloe Gin Bramble.
Find out more here: https://mchenrydistillery.com.au/shop/700ml-sloe-gin/
Antipodes Gin (45% ABV)
Antipodes Gin is Australia’s first certified organic and carbon neutral gin and is inspired by the Sunraysia district where is makers grew up.
Antipodes Gin is the brain child of Shane Reid and Rory Gration and is Australia’s first certified organic and carbon neutral gin.
This gin is very summery, a little sweet and very rounded on the palette with a little Tasmania Pepper Berry is spice things up. Very easy drinking.
Best enjoyed on ice, or in a G+T with an orange peel garnish.
- I wrote an in-depth review when it first debuted and you can read it here: https://martiniwhisperer.com/2015/…/25/review-antipodes-gin/
The West Winds – The Cutlass (50% ABV)
From Western Australia comes an old favourite of mine/
This is something is a classic Australian Gin and with its sister gin, The Sabre, carved out export and national markets that later distillers could follow years before the current gin craze.
Big, spicy with wattle seed, lemon myrtle, and bush tomato, plus locally sourced juniper in the mix, with an ABV of 50% this gin has big generous personality.
If you like your Martinis full of spice and complexity then this for you. In a G+T you can up the garnish ante with some red or green capsicum slices or even some jalapeño, or ruby grapefruit.
- You can read an in-depth review here.
Husk Distillers, Ink Gin (43% ABV)
Yes, it changes colour when mixed with tonic water thanks to the butterfly pea flower petal.
Get ready to Instagram!
Perhaps the most exotic gin in this year’s set, there are 13 Australian native, exotic & traditional botanicals used in crafting the gin from the Tweed Valley in New South Wales.
It’s very lively on the palette with plenty of citrus and herbaceous notes.
No need to get complicated with this gin, get a decent tonic, ice and your preferred garnish and enjoy the show!
- Discover more here: https://inkgin.com
Shene Estate Distillery, Poltergeist – Unfiltered (46% ABV)
The Penultimate Gin for the set!
This is the sister gin to the filtered version from the Estate, which is perhaps the most picturesque in Australia in its rural Tasmania colonial splendour. They aim to make gins to match its inspirational location.
The gin is, as the name suggests, unfiltered (otherwise the distillation process is the same) meaning it is richer and spicier on the palette, quite the extrovert.
If you like Single Malts or even Rums, then this will be the gin for you.
Lots of complexity and if you pay attention as you sip, try guessing the 12 botanicals in the mix.
It was recently awarded Double Gold in the USA out of 2253 other gins. No small achievement.
One you won’t forget.
Neat, on nice is perfect, but it is perfect for a memorable Dry Martini.
- Discover more about Shene Estate and Distillery here: http://www.shene.com.au
The Last Gin! What a journey, I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights along the way, its been fun being part of this amazing initiative. The 1000 sets were all sold and we made media around the world.
Boatrocker Brewers and Distillers, Hippocampus Dry Gin (41.5% ABV)
Originally from Perth Western Australia, they’ve recently headed East and are now situated in Victoria.
Boatrocker have crafted this gin is made in the classic London Dry style. If you like your juniper up front, and plenty of citrus to back it up, this gin is for you.
She ain’t shy coming forward this one, but is still a classy lady. Flavoursome, long length, we’re in fine company here.
Mix yourself a Dirty Martini with extra olives as a garnish, or perhaps a tall G+T with some ruby grapefruit and a herb, such as fresh rosemary.
- You’ll find out more here: http://hippocampusmd.com.au