If you follow me on my Instagram or Facebook page you would have seen my daily posts during December of a different Aussie gin that was featured in the Gintonica Advent Calendar
Disclosure- I’m engaged by the nice folk at Gintonica to do this service. Tough work, but someone has to do it!
So, here’s the full list of my tasting notes for each gin, with a link back to the respective distilleries.
You can also read previous years notes:
WILDBRUMBY DISTILLERY RUBUS PATCH BLACK LABEL GIN
If you head South past the town of Jindabyne and turn onto the Alpine Way highway you find yourself in a beautiful valley amongst the Snowy Mountains, take a left after about 20 minutes and you’re at the very popular Wildbrumby Distillery. Inspired by their alpine location, the hardworking team at Wildbrumby have been creating small batch spirits since 2005.
Distillers Brad Spalding and Sebastian Drüge use many local ingredients for their range, and to start the Advent Calendar journey what better way than this new release that features raspberries grown a few steps from the still itself, called Florence. With it’s romantic pink colour and delicate fragrant nose, this gin is light on the palette, subtle with has a very dry finish.
Less is more here, so I suggest you could sip it over ice, or add a splash of soda to lengthen it for refreshing summer sipping perhaps with a thin slice of lime, or perhaps some Elderflower tonic to bring out one of it’s botanicals. ABV 40% Distillery website.
SEPPELTSFIELD ROAD DISTILLERY HOUSE GIN
The Barossa Valley is renowned around the world for it’s wine and it’s heritage, and this new distillery with a state of the art tasting room is offering a new experience for visitors to the region.
Seppeltsfield Road Distillers opened in the second half of 2018 with the range of gins distilled by Nicole Durdin. Suitably the shining 180L Carl copper still is front and centre at the venue, and this contemporary and confident brand uses (appropriately given it’s location) locally produced grape spirit as the base giving the gin a more rounded mouth feel and depth than other base spirits do.
This release, the House Gin, is very versatile. The nose is bright and aromatic and lines up nicely with the forward delicate chamomile and lavender notes and a pleasant spice lingering on the palette with excellent balance, and not too dry on the finish.
Different garnishes will reveal other dimensions in the gin, but as a house guest I don’t imagine she’d wear out her welcome any way you’d like it.
I’d think a very Dry Martini, would work well, with a twist, but equally a classic G+T with a premium tonic so the subtle botanicals can shine through. ABV 41.5% Distillery website.
IRONBARK DISTILLERY 313 DRY GIN
This distillery, located north of Sydney in North Richmond, appeared on the scene in 2013 and has recently had major investment by a UK based consortium following international awards success for their handcraft spirits, which isn’t bad for a team of three!
Distiller Reg Papps and his wife Greta wanted to create a spirit with a distinctive Australian character, and one of their gins features Wattleseed as a botanical. Using a still which is a mix of copper (for it’s purification properties) and stainless still, plus a custom carbon filter system, Reg creates the spirits which also are cut using locally sourced spring water.
The Dry Gin features five botanicals with the required juniper then other classic London Dry botanicals like cardamom, coriander, lemon zest, plus vanilla. You can pick out the latter on the nose along with the cardamom, on the palette the gin has a lovely creaminess to it, leading to a slightly peppery finish that is dry, but not austere. Overall, it’s quite subtle in it’s flavour profile.
Less is more here when mixing, otherwise you’ll drown out the gin so to speak. Choose a peel over a slice of citrus garnish for example. You could easily just sip this on ice with a lemon peel and enjoy it’s smoothness. ABV 40% Distillery website.
ALCHEMY DISTILLERY CHAMOMILE GIN
Head North East out of Melbourne for about 50kms and you come to the picturesque town of Healesville in the middle of the wine making Yarra Valley region. This town is a hub for all good things food and booze, and in early 2018 young guns Evan Kipping and Jannick Zester, who have a hospitality background, took a punt and created their distillery in an old bakery that you can visit.
Keen to push the envelop and be original in what they wanted to make spirits wise, they’re released since then Chamomile Gin, Quinoa Vodka, Moonshine and a variety of limited small batch spirits. Using a 1000 Litre Hybrid Pot Still they created this Chamomile Gin that includes 14 botanicals such as cassia bark, vanilla, cardamom, aniseed, and interestingly, rosemary, a botanical not often seen in a gin line up. The most is intensely bright and aromatic, almost sweet like a ray of sunshine.
On the palette it is much more intense with a musky flavour profile and a flinty finish. Clearly this gin likes to party in a citrus forward cocktail, or with your favourite tonic including an Elderflower version, perhaps with a rosemary sprig or a slice of green capsicum for a garnish to spice things up. ABV 40% Distillery website.
OLD KEMPTON DISTILLERY EMBEZZLER DRY GIN
Our first gin from the distilling powerhouse that is Tasmania in this year’s line up. You can visit the elegant colonial era mansion, Dysart House, just off the main highway that links Hobart to Launceston (it’s much closer to the former). Renowned for their excellent single malts, the team at Old Kempton Distillery Renowned for their excellent single malts this gin was created by Matt Fontaine and past head distiller Dean Jackson created this gin in 2017.
Using a handcrafted approach and locally sourced ingredients, the gin is distilled in a 500lt still, and the 14 botanicals are either macerated in the spirit or vapour extracted.
These botanicals include a range of citrus, florals, and spices like Kafir Lime, Lemon Myrtle (happily – it is quite restrained in my opinion) and mint. and some of the oils are retrained, carried by the higher than usual alcohol by volume, for a richer flavour profile. The nose is spicy and citrus forward that continues onto the palette. With a full mouth feel, and the flavours linger with a pleasant creamy oiliness from those botanicals. You don’t notice spirit, the gin is very well woven and balanced with no one botanical dominant.
This would make a fine Martini, or any of your favourite gin cocktails like a Gimlet and of course, a G+T with a thin slice of lime. Keep it classic with this one. ABV 46% Distillery website.
DISTILLERY BOTANICA, MOORES DISTILLERS CUT JUNIPER GIN
Master Distiller Philip Moore’s original gin release was the first Australian gin I had many years ago. Long before the current craft he was crafting thoughtful and original spirits inspired by his love and deep understanding of botany. In 2005, he bought a nursery in Erina which is just north of Sydney where the distillery is located. His Dry gin received a gold medal in 2017 at the International Wine and Spirits competition in London, and apparently he made some 400 different blends to get it right! Swing past my website for a closer look at that gin.
This particular release is an evolution that puts the must have botanical juniper front and centre. There is something of a trend for London Dry style gins to emphasise the essential essence of this gin eschewing the use of exotic botanicals. In his distillation process he uses a Carter Head style still where the alcoholic vapours pass through wire baskets full of fresh botanicals to enable a delicate capture of their essence.
This gin’s nose is pristine and bright with the juniper clearly defined not surprisingly. This sets you up perfectly for the first sip which gives you an elegant and full flavoured spirit, surprisingly soft on the palette with a medium dry finish. It’s subtle, and the juniper and other botanicals and the spirit are expertly handled and balanced. It’s classy enough for sipping over ice (a thin lime slice is suggested) and this makes for a very fine Martini, straight up with an olive. ABV 45% Distillery website.
GREAT OCEAN ROAD DISTILLERY GUVVOS GIN
The Great Ocean Road is one of the best road trips in the world, and the small town of Airleys Inlet is some 1.5hrs from Melbourne. Not far from the beach, for which this gin is named, you’ll find the tasting room of new debut distillery, Great Ocean Road. Using the location as her inspiration, Ann Houlihan, has combined some 24 botanicals, many of which are native to the area.
Actually distilled by the contract distillers Craft and Co in inner city Melbourne, this approachable gin features exotic botanicals such as local honey, kelp, coastal salt bush, coast daisy, plus lemons, limes and lemongrass among others. You can pick up the coastal inspiration on the nose, which is bright and aromatic with plenty of citrus notes.
On the palette is very crisp and the native honey rounds out the spice from the juniper up front and a slightly salty finish, overall very moorish with no spirit heat, and a very successful debut spirit. There is no need to overthink this gin which has Summer vibes all over it, it’s versatile enough to drink it neat over ice, or G+T (suggest a thin lemon or grapefruit peel garnish) or a nice dry Martini with a twist. ABV 41% Distillery website.
SETTLERS SPIRITS, CORIANDER LEAF GIN
A new week of the Advent Calendar journey and we’re back in South Australian wine country. I met distiller Rowland Short several years ago in Melbourne when he was prototyping his debut gin and invited some folks like me to road test the new spirit. He original Rare Dry Gin he launched with is reviewed on my website for more information btw.
Since then, his range has blossomed to some dozen or so styles of gin ranging from Yuzu to Spiced Fig, and they have found many a welcome place on a shelf in Adelaide and around the state. Coriander is frequently featured in distilling gin, perhaps one of the most frequently used, but it’s unusual to see it be the hero botanical. Located in the McClaren Value wine making region, using a grape spirit as his base, Rowland distills infuses each botanical separately allowing for more delicacy in capturing their essence and overall control over the flavour profile.
On the nose this gin is big and bold, with the coriander saying a big friendly hello. On tasting, the gin is very dry, with plenty of savoury flavours up front, but resolves into a very clean and smooth finish, and not overly spiced or hot. This gin would stand up in a Negroni (easy on the Campari) neat with lime over ice, excellent in a Gin and Tonic (which perhaps a slice of green capsicum, or blood orange slice for a garnish). ABV 43% Distillery website.
SOUTH COAST DISTILLERY SUBLIME GIN
This distillery opened doors earlier in 2019 with a couple of mates Luke and Oskar opening Wollongong’s first distillery not far from the famed steelworks. When I visited their tasting room a few months back it was still a work in progress, but they have plans for a botanical garden where visitors will be able to experience many of the local botanicals they use in their spirits.
On debut this gin won Silver Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Not bad. This small batch gin (some 240 or so bottles are produced each run) features Lemon Myrtle, Grapefruit Peel, Grains of Paradise, Dandelion Root, Cardamon, Angelica Root, Coriander Seed, Caraway and Juniper. This very aromatic gin has some natural sweetness on the nose which follows through with how it tastes, generous mouth feel, lingering lemon, dandelion up front and the earthier botanicals bringing up the rear.
With it’s rich flavour and body,, you can be bold with your choice of garnish in a G+T, look dried blood orange, or grapefruit feel, perhaps a premium flavoured tonic, or some strawberries and black pepper, or even on ice with a dash of soda for sunset sipping. ABV40% Distillery website.
TATTARANG SPRINGS DISTILLING AUSTRALIAN BOTANICAL GIN
Introducing the first Western Australian gin in this year’s calendar lineup. Brothers Dan and Andrew Paton create this hand foraged gin on a property with it’s own natural springs and surround by native forests. Located in Karrakup, which is a small town southeast of Perth.
They use a base spirit derived from WA Barley and are very small batch, only some 100-150 bottles in a process that is very much a labour of love. Producing three gins and a vodka, this release is a fine example of a contemporary Australian style gin that is very aromatic with lots of bright and attractive lavender and anise notes, leading to a crisp, light and a very dry finish with hints of musk, lemon on the palette. Overall, this is a subtle and complex gin, and the higher ABV is beautifully handled, there being no volatility or heat on the palette or nose.
This is a gin that needs a light touch. The makers suggest some soda as a mixer and I agree, just some ice and a slash and let it speak for itself. Garnish wise, you might consider a spring of fresh lemon thyme, or rosemary, or a couple of mint leaves. ABV 45% Distillery website.
Welcome to the national capital, Canberra. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the fine team at Underground Spirits on a few occasions over the years, and they create very refined and contemporary style gins and vodka. Using a patented distillation process that ensures the spirits are as stripped of any impurities as possible (think micron level) they produce their elegant spirits quietly at the back of the Kambah shops which you can visit.
This gin is a mix of old and new, it is aged in ex Shiraz oak barrels with Tasmania Pepperberry added. The result is a light bodied gin, with rose – amber blush. The nose is rich and has all the wine barrel goodness and spice you’d expect with hints of caramel. This follows through on the palette with a slightly spicy finish, crisp and dry.
This gin is going to be a great mixer, I recently created a cocktail with it marrying it with Maidenii Dry Vermouth and the St Agnes Bartenders Cut brandy with a grapefruit twist that worked a treat. Tall with soda with a citrus peel garnish + ice, your favourite premium tonic plus some blood orange, or in a Negroni. ABV: 40% Distillery website.
PROHIBITION LIQUOR CO, SMALL BATCH NEGRONI
The fine folk at Prohibition led by Adam Carpenter and Wes Heddles are one of the leading lights of Adelaide’s vibrant distilling scene. Releasing their first gin in 2015, in one of the most gorgeous bottles on the market, they have gone from strength to strength and have a very popular tasting room and distillery near downtown Adelaide.
The Negroni cocktail turned 100 this year, and is Italy’s gift to the cocktail world and civilisation generally. Classically equal parts gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth, over ice with a orange peel garnish, it should be bitter as an aperitif, but still rounded and approach with a subtle kick to it.
Happily, we can now create an all Australian version using local versions of these ingredients. So the team at Prohibition has bottled an all-Australian version – its own gin plus Okar Amaro produced but the talented team at Applewood Distilling in the Adelaide Hills, and gorgeous Sweet Vermouth from Maidenii. The nose is very raspberry candy (in a good way) and is rich on the palette, bitter, but not too much and has blended the ingredients beautifully.
This one ain’t complicated, stir over ice until chilled, and then strain into a old fashioned glass with fresh ice, with an orange or grapefruit peel garnish. ABV 37% Distillery website.
We’re back in Tasmania now, and if you head to the small town of Richmond, just 25km NE of Hobart you’d think you’d gone back to the C19th with it’s charming colonial era bridge and buildings. Founded in 2016 by Kirsty Booth-Lark, it’s the first distillery to be owned and operated by a woman in Australia and it will be open for visits next year.
Her approach to distilling her gins is very in keeping with a traditional approach to careful attention to ingredients, many locally sourced. Using a 600Lt copper pot still, she distills each botanical separately, then blends them in small batch runs. The Triple Juniper Apothecary Gin puts the one botanical that is the MUST HAVE in Gin, front and centre, Juniper. Using some 10 botanicals including some natives, Kristy has dialled up the Juniper up a few notches.
If you tried it neat, that flinty, piney taste you get up front, well that’s the juniper. The extra dose also makes for some richer oiliness on the palette but the citrus keeps things tidy and you have a very dry, crisp finish. In a mixer it really opens up and you get a more richer flavour profile that is very well balanced. This gin is very versatile and don’t be shy mixing it up in one of your favourite cocktails, naturally, a Martini with a lemon peel worked for me. ABV 40% Distillery website.
KILDERKIN DISTILLERY SUNBURNT COUNTRY GIN
Established in 2016 in Ballarat, Victoria, this is the first distillery in the area since the 1930s and is well worth the visit, especially as they have a craft beer brewery as a neighbour! Using a specially commission pot still, distillers Chris Pratt and Scott Wilson-Browne make a range of gins using the vapour infusion method with their botanicals in baskets.
Their Larrikin range of gins includes this interesting expression that lands at a healthy 50.7% ABV in homage to a record temperature for Australia. Hopefully that record stands for some time to come. On the nose you get plenty of rich oily aromatics, but no big boozy hit. This follows through on the palette and it’s pleasantly laid back, with a nice rich mouth feel, clean and just enough heat from the spirit to keep things interesting.
Natives are the heroes in this gin with Davidson’s plum, wattleseed, lemon myrtle, bush tomato and strawberry gum in the mix, but they don’t shout at you unlike sometimes in Aussie gins, this is a good thing. Drinking wise, I fancy it on ice with a splash of tonic to open things up with a lime peel garnish. ABV 50.7% Distillery website.
A few years back in Adelaide I had a early meeting with one of the founders of Adelaide Hills Distillery, the human dynamo Sacha La Forgia. I met him a cafe prior to getting my flight home first thing, and before I even had a chance to order my first coffee or breakfast he was plying me with sample of his range. It made for an interesting flight home and he did drop me off the airport!
Since then, the company has expanded, won lots of awards and has a new tasting room and distillery in the Hay Valley, a little hamlet, some 30kms from Adelaide that also features kindred food and beverage craft producers. They create their spirits using on a grape spirit base using vapour infusion in a design that helps ensure that they capture the delicate essence of their botanicals, some of which are individually distilled, then blended.
Unlike some distillers, AHD are transparent about their botanicals and have very good labelling to give a drinker a good sense of what to expect flavour wise. In the case of this Sunset Gin the botanicals include juniper (naturally), Strawberry Gum, Bush Apple and native Rosella. With its pale pink hue it’s a pretty thing, and has a delicate perfume, but don’t be deceived, this lady has a big personality on the palette. Think strawberry infused musk that lingers forever.
Don’t waste this in cocktail, this is either a sipper on ice (be creative with a garnish), tall with a premium tonic water, or you could, with a tiny hint of Maidenii Dry Vermouth at a 1:10 ratio, and rustle up an exotic Martini granished with Green Apple peel. ABV 42%
ORIGINAL SPIRITS CO., GINFUSION BLOOD ORANGE GIN
This family owned and run distillery debuted in 2016 and has been very busy creating a diverse range of 12 gins and spirits ever since ranging from barrel aged and slow gins to a range of less ABV they call ‘Ginfusions’.
With some very nice packaging and a commitment to small batch they’ve hit the ground running operating out of a small distillery in Somerville which is on the Eastern side of the Mornington Peninsula. Using a relatively tiny (compared to other distilleries) 130lt copper pot still and hand forage local botanicals as much as possible. This energetic team includes youthful distillers Darcy Kennedy and Felix Richardtz and in keeping with many of the distillers in this calendar are adventurous and creative in the way they look at new botanical combinations.
I love the lush intensity of Blood Orange, and it makes for a dramatic garnish in a G+T (especially when it’s been dried) and this has been married with some Lemon Myrtle to add some nice citrus acid to cut through the flavours.
It’s semi sweet on the palette, dangerously moorish. Think of this release a great base for a mixer, like a Spritzer with Soda, or I reckon a nice chilled Prosecco to take your BBQ or poolside sipping up level.Some fancy Elderflower Tonic water would also work a treat here too. ABV 28%
WANDERING DISTILLERY, SIGNIATURE GIN
This is something of a bi-coastal gin. The Wandering Distillery, a very small family run operation, originated in the lovely Mornington Peninsula, outside Melbourne in 2015 before relocating all the way over to Perth Western Australia. The Signature Gin is their only release to date and won a Silver Medal at this year’s Australian Distilled Spirits Awards.
This London Dry style gin is very poised with a subtle and restrained nose, with no one botanical dominant and no spirit volatility. On the palette it has flinty juniper up front with a lingering white pepper and lemon notes at the end, but isn’t overly austere.
If you like your gins in the classic English style then this will really float your boat. This gin therefore is really versatile, definitely a Martini candidate any way you like it, with your favourite tonic, perhaps with a rosemary sprig or lemon peel as a garnish, or even strawberries + black pepper + mint for a garnish.
POOR TOMS SYDNEY DRY GIN
Welcome to Sydney! The harbour city hasn’t been immune to the distilling boom and now features several distillers around the city, many of which, like Poor Toms, have a tasting room experience on offer. So you can visit them in Marrickville, one of the inner suburbs three days a week and even bring your dog.
Debuting in 2015 with this Sydney Gin, mates Jesse Kennedy and Griffin Blumer had the good sense to involve expert distiller Marcel Thompson who brought international experience to the table from the get-go. This gin has been winning hearts and minds ever since. Using a German made copper still they steep 10 botanicals on a wheat spirit base.
They’ve since expanded the range to include Strawberry, Fool’s Strength (52% ABV) and an excellent aperitif amaro style mixer, Imbroglio. But back to the gin, the nose is bright and aromatic with some spice, leading to a generous mouthfeel, rounded with a nice oiliness and crisp finish, very well integrated. A classy number all round that you can dress up any way you want, certainly a Negroni is an option but I think this gin needs to be front and centre.
They suggest a strawberry garnish with some nice tonic and that would sing, as would some rosemary or slices of green apple with your tonic or even soda. ABV 41.3%
BIG TREE ELEGANT DRY GIN
On a farm nestled in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges you’ll find farming coupled Catherine Crothers and Gary Jago and their little 300lt copper pot still Beryl. Together they are crafting a range of gins based on local rain and spring water, and grain spirit.
Relatively new to the craft gin boom, debuting their gin in 2017, they’ve won a swag of awards, including a Double Gold at the prestigious San Franciso World Spirits Competition. So clearly they’re doing something right and inspired by their location, locally sourced botanicals as far as possible, and have plans to cultivate a local crop of juniper – most of this is imported by distillers into Australia, so this is about time someone was doing something about this.
So this Elegant Dry uses some of the classic London Dry style botanicals like Cassia Bark, Star Anise, Cardamon, so you’ll get some of these on the nose, warm and aromatic and no spirit volatility. This carries through beautifully onto the palette, with those earthy botanicals aligned with the juniper and some light citrus spice up front with a warm lingering finish.
I can see why it’s down so well in those awards programs. You can enjoy this gin anyways you like, but I’m feeling a Martini with an olive and keeping it classic all the way. ABV 43%.
THE WEST WINDS GIN BARREL EXPEDITION #1
I’ve always had a soft spot for these pirates from the West as they were only gin company to support me when I created the official Martini of our national capital 100th Birthday back in 2013 they just liked the idea of it. They were one of the first Australian gins to kick major goals overseas and carved out export pathways and profile for others to follow.
They are well know for their Sabre (possibly the best value for money Aussie gin out there) and the Cutlass, plus some of other special releases. Based in Margaret River, they also produce this interesting collaboration with Australian Vermouth maker, Maidenii, who by coincidence also featured in the cocktails I devised for the occasion, The Sweet Vermouth which is married in this bottle is, I think, one of the best products of it’s type out there, just gorgeous and beautifully in everyday.
So what do you get when a gin from the West meets a Vermouth for the East? Quick detour first, it’s worth remembering that back in the day, lots of gin was stored in barrels, there being no stainless steel. So the spirits would take on the taint, and some of the flavour of whatever the barrel was.
So in making this they used oak barrels that the Maidenii had been aged in, and the Sabre was distilled at a higher ABV to draw out some of the wood complexity and the blush colour too.
Plenty of spice up front and overall, its light on the palette, with the alcohol making its presence felt with some nice heat and spice- in a good way. So whilst you could craft a Negroni, or just sip on ice with some lime or even strawberries and mint, I’ve tried it as a spritzer with Prosecco, plus a grapefruit or orange peel garnish, with a splash of soda, works a treat ABV 45%
ANIMUS DISTILLERY ABORETUM GIN
This gin is a labour of love and close attention to the process of distilling, perhaps even obsessively so. The gins were first released in 2016 and are located pretty close to the centre of Victoria in Kyneton, where you can visit and enjoy cocktails, food and learn about their approach to crafting their gins, currently there being three in the range.
The founders, Drs. Aaron Robinson and Joel Wilson, Rob Turner and Luke Jacques spent several years researching and refining their vision and expertise, and since they launched their spirits they’ve won three gold, three silver and a bronze in various awards both here and overseas.
By now in your Advent Gin journey you will have noticed a range of approaches to distilling and some of the equipment involved, all aimed at a particular result and control by the distillers to get a particular result.
Using a base spirit this is triple filtered using a custom designed gravity-fed carbon filter system to ensure maximum purity, they have a strong commitment to a sustainable approach to sourcing their botanicals but also disposing them after you. When it comes to making the gin, Animus uses a custom copper column still, and the botanicals are extracted via a vapour extraction process, but – almost uniquely I think- they change them DURING distillation to ensure maximum freshness.
So what do you get after all of that? A rich and aromatic nose, and they cite, lemon thyme, strawberry gum, bay, oranges, capsicum, native bush tomatoes, coriander and juniper, that bursts with heat and spice on the palette on the first taste, then fades to a very resolved savoury profile with those bush tomatoes and capsicum notes staying a while longer. The quality of the spirit is very evident, this is silky smoothened each of those ingredients clearly all have a role to play.
To drink? Don’t over think this interesting and complex gin, on ice, perhaps an orange peel, maybe even some fresh lemon thyme and enjoy the conversation. ABV 50%
BROGAN’S WAY DISTILLERY EVERYDAY SALVATION GIN
Sometimes in the spirits business they talk about a spirit being an ‘expression’. It’s a way of saying that in the genre of say, whisky, a particular release is a particular style or variation on what that spirit is usually known for. So today, we head to inner city Melbourne, Richmond in fact.
Say hello to an enterprising woman distiller, Brogan Carr and her singular vision of contemporary, urban Australian gins. Her Everyday Salvation Gin has to have the best name for a gin ever. Goodness knows we’ve all been there, and that something in the bottle, if it doesn’t have the answer, it can certainly give you perspective. With a background in science, and an MsC in Brewing and Distilling (there is such a thing!) and working with her father Simon, she has carved out a singular space in a short time.
You can visit the distillery and bar and see the hybrid copper and stainless still, Gilly and take a tour etc.
Using what is called a ‘single shot’ London Dry style method -which is to say- once you start the process you can’t stop and what you get at the end is what’ve you’ve got, besides being cut (diluted) with water. So you want to have your measures of botanicals and all the other settings exactly right.
No pressure then.
They macerate the juniper the night before, and then the other botanicals are added the next day and the process is started. So to the gin: bright and floral on the nose, like a Spring morning (feeling better already?) with a very crisp palette and finish, quite dry at the end.
Definitely one that gets you thinking about what else you can taste such as the cinnamon myrtle, white grapefruit peel, or the pepper berry and roasted native wattle seed, there’s a lot going on, but it works. So this is your time, you deserve some saving, so find your favourite premium tonic, choose a garnish that isn’t a lemon or lime slice, and get happy.
TINY BEAR DISTILLERY – THE GYPSY GIN
We’re in Melbourne again for another of the new wave of micro distilleries that have emerged recently. Amanda and Damien Anderson launched Tiny Bear Distillery last year, and with backgrounds as high school science teachers this was always going to be a project that involved lots of experimentation of a fun kind.
In fact Damien quit his day job as a chemistry teacher to focus on the distillery but is clearly bringing that expertise to bear here. Sorry, see what I did? 🙂
In a short while they have released four gins, and here’s the thing: they base the gins on their own base spirit. This is notable for two reasons, not many distillers do this (cost and what set up you need to do it, plus the whole time thing), and they use home grown kale (yep) that is fermented and run though a column still to create the neutral spirit. This spirit is then distilled a with the botanicals in a basket so the vapours pass over them to create the gin.
Got to love Science.
You can also visit them at their distillery in Knoxfield in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. This gin isn’t shy at all. With cardamon, cumin, cloves, several peppers plus citrus and healthy does of juniper you know you’re getting your vitamins with this one. a rich nose that is like an inviting spice shop, and if you could have your favourite laksa or red curry in a glass this would be it.
Actually, really rather delicious, with a very clean finish and you’re sure that kale is dong you good. If you’ve some fancy tonics like ginger tonic (or even a quality ginger ale), with some fresh lime wedges, or with slices of cucumber and a dash of soda over ice. ABV 43%
KANGAROO ISLAND SPIRITS, O’GIN
It’s fitting that we finish our Australian craft gin journey with this release from Australia’s original and first dedicated craft gin distillery. You can’t know Australian gin without knowing Jon and Sarah Lark who established Kangaroo Island Spirits back in 2006.
If great spirits are an expression of place, then this gin is one of those. Long before the current craft they were exploring how to make spirits inspired and made from native ingredients found on the beautiful and wild island and looking to create a particular style of gin that was original, showing the way for many others to follow.
Using a South Australian grape spirit for it’s based they treat the botanicals in a range of processes depending on what’s required for each. The O’Gin features coriander, angelica root, coastal daisy (akin to a wild rosemary) some orange and exotic peppers, plus juniper.
(As an aside they have also started working with a form of native juniper to create a new gin recently, and you can visit their distillery on the island also.)
A herbaceous, rosemary led nose leads you to well rounded spirit that has a very balanced mint, salty, peppery range of flavours, very much evoking a free sea breeze, leading to a dry finish. You’re in very safe hands here, needless to say.
I enjoyed this tall, with tonic and fresh sprig of rosemary and thin slice of blood orange, but you could pick any of these botanicals out and use those as a cue for your favourite garnish.