Four Pillars 'Jude' Copper Still

Gin Queen on Tour ~ Four Pillars Gin

A private gin bus will collect you from Federation Square in Melbourne and whisk you to Four Pillars distillery in Healesville. There, you’ll meet the distiller, Cameron Mackenzie, have a G&T, learn about (and sample!) their fantastic gins, and enjoy a light lunch before the gin bus departs.

But wait there’s more!

Instead of you ending your tour back at Federation Square, we’ll be off to Bad Frankie (the No. 1 bar for Australian spirits) for a mini martini.

The perfect way to round off our gin tour!

What’s included?

  • Fully escorted tour hosted by Caroline Childerley, The Gin Queen!
  • Transport from Federation Square to the distillery and back to Melbourne
  • Meet the distiller
  • Gin tasters
  • G&T at the distillery
  • Light lunch (limited dietary options available)
  • Mini martini at Bad Frankie!

When are we going?                                        

Saturday 24 April 2018

How much?

$120 will get you a spot on the tour.

Terms & Conditions

Attendees must be over 18.

No refunds or exchanges.

Please drink responsibly.

Teddy and the Fox gin

I first met Lorelle and Russ at the inaugural Junipalooza in 2016 where they were busy conducting research for their distillery. Since then I’ve caught up with them a few times and followed their journey to opening the first distillery on the Bellarine Peninsula, where they are both from. I recently visited, and fell in love with the beautiful location, the gin, and of course, Teddy!

The tale of how they found the property is a little spooky! During a drive around looking at properties, Lorelle saw a ‘for sale’ sign, but little else as it was completely surrounded by dense pine trees. She told me that she “just had a feeling” about the place, which was a formerly a chicken farm. Russ stopped the car and they approached the house to speak to the vendor…and this is where I get goosebumps…the gentleman selling the land, whom neither had met before, turned out to have been the best man at Lorelle’s parents’ wedding. Talk about fate!

It’s taken months and months of clearing the land and digging trenches for the various amenities. They’ve unearthed an old watering hole for coach horses, almond, fig and walnut trees and the perfect spot for their distillery.


Wide open space and the distillery hiding behind the remaining trees
The distillery housing their Bellarine Whisky still (named Ronald after Lorelle’s late father) and a small ‘Stilldragon’ for making gin.

The plan was always to create a tasting room and a space for people to have a bit to eat. The only existing building was a corrugated tin shed, which needed some serious attention.

The Whiskery, (named after Russ’ impressive moustache) is the cosiest of cellar doors!

(image supplied)
(image supplied)

The Bellarine Distillery will launch whisky in the next year or two, but in the mean time, Lorelle and Russ have been busy creating their gin, Teddy and the Fox.

They named the gin after their beloved dog because during all the building work a fox caught Teddy’s eye and he did a daring dash across the field (and the road!) in hot pursuit. The image caught both Lorelle and Russ’s imagination and makes for a stunning label!

The Teddy and the Fox gin label artwork is featured over the Whiskery fire place



Teddy and the Fox gin

Lorelle’s uses fractional distillation (all the botanicals are distilled separately before being blended together)and grape based spirit ( Melbourne Gin company also uses this base) which gives a great mouth feel and a super neutral canvas that allows the botanicals to shine.

The botanicals are juniper, orange, lemon myrtle, coriander, star anise and orris root.

On the nose the orange aromas abound with sherberty lemon myrtle in the background. To taste the orange and juniper are at the fore before more citrus zest notes from the coriander and lemon myrtle evolve. There is a good dose of warmth and spice on the lengthy finish. It’s well-balanced, with a great mouthfeel.

Orange blossom cocktail

Drinking Teddy and the Fox gin

It works well in a gin and tonic garnished with rosemary – fennel would also work.  Try it with soda as this would open out the flavours even more. Martini (with an orange twist) and negroni are fabulous, but if you really want to play up the orange notes go for something like an orange blossom cocktail or a Florodora.

Lorelle, Russ and Teddy (this was SUCH a tricky photo to take..!!)

Lorelle and Russ set a great example to future Australian distillers with their passion, tenacity (dealing with councils is no easy ride) and attention to detail. I cannot wait to get back and sit out on the deck.

Teddy and the Fox gin is available direct from the distillery at the moment, but you can contact them via Facebook and instagram to place an order, while they finish their website.

Alternatively, you can meet them at Bad Frankie’s Victorian Spirits Tasting on 25th March, or at Junipalooza 2018!

ABV 42%

Price: Medium

You can follow The Whiskery on Facebook or instagram.

Gin Queen on Tour ~ Animus Distillery and Patient Wolf

Gin Queen on Tour ~ Animus Distillery and Patient Wolf

I am so excited about the first Victorian Gin Queen on Tour 2018!

First stop is newly opened Animus Distillery in picturesque Kyneton, where we’ll hear from the team about how they came up with the idea for Animus gins, while tasting all three! before enjoying lunch from one of the local Piper Street eateries!

Gin Queen on Tour ~ Animus Distillery and Patient Wolf
(image from Animus Distillery)

Then it’s back on the gin bus as we head off to meet the boys at Patient Wolf. Matt and Dave are super excited to share a Gin and tonic with everyone as they share their story.

And if that isn’t enough excitement, we’ll be rounding off with a mini-martini at Bad Frankie, Melbourne’s number one destination for all things Aussie Spirits!

Gin Queen on Tour ~ Animus Distillery and Patient Wolf

Full itinerary for Gin Queen on Tour ~ Animus Distillery and Patient Wolf

  • 10.00am meet the Gin Bus at Federation Square
  • 11.30am arrive at Animus Distillery get up close with their still, enjoy a tasting three of the gins produced and enjoy a light lunch.
  • 1.30pm Depart Animus Distillery
  • 2.30pm Arrive at Patient Wolf for a G&T with Matt and Dave
  • 4.00pm Depart Patient Wolf
  • 4.30pm Arrive at Bad Frankie

What’s included in the ticket price?

  • Fully escorted tour hosted by Caroline Childerley, The Gin Queen!
  • Luxury Bus Charter from Federation Square to Animus Distillery, and then Patient Wolf before finishing the tour at Bad Frankie.
  • Meet the distillers at two of Victoria’s newest distilleries
  • Gin tasters
  • Gin and tonic on arrival and lunch at Animus Distillery (limited dietary options available)
  • Gin and tonic at Patient Wolf
  • A mini-martini at Bad Frankie

When are we going?                                        

Saturday 24th February 2018

How much?

$150 will get you a spot on the tour.

Terms & Conditions

Attendees must be over 18.

No refunds or exchanges.

Please drink responsibly.

Japanese Gins

The gin craze is still booming and new markets are entering the fray (keep your eyes on South America and India). With massive success in the whisky sector, it’s no surprise that Japan is creating gin. What’s so fantastic about new countries taking an interest in gin is their use of local botanicals.
I’ve taken a look at four Japanese gins, their ingredients and production processes – all of which are remarkably different.

Nikka Coffey Gin

This gin is named after the “Coffey Still”, a traditional continuous still that Nikka uses to produce its signature grain whiskies.
Coffey still at Killbeggan Distillery


Nikki Coffey gin has 11 botanicals, traditional; juniper, angelica, coriander, lemon peel, orange peel and local- yuzu (like a cross between a lemon and mandarin), kabosu (related to yuzu and used instead of vinegar in some dishes), amanatsu (another citrus), and shequasar (a sort of flat lemon) apple juice and Sanshō pepper.
Citrus dominates the aroma and flavour of this gin. It’s a complete full-bodied, punchy flavour bomb. Juicy and peppery. Ideal in a gin and tonic.
ABV: 47%

Roku – Suntory

Suntory owns some of the best known whisky brands in the world but in Japan, they’re behind Hakushu, Hibiki and Yamasaki.  Yamasaki put Japanese whisky firmly on the map when whisky critic, Jim Murray, declared it the “best in the world”.
‘Roku’ means 6, referencing the 6 botanicals used to make the gin. Suntory owns a craft distillery called ‘Liquor Atelier’  which own four different types of pot stills. Each botanical is distilled separately and in keeping with their character. For example cherry blossom is distilled using vacuum distillation to protect the delicate flavours, while yuzu is distilled in a traditional pot still to extract maximum flavour.
Cherry Blossom


Juniper, coriander angelica(root and seed), cardamom, cinnamon, bitter orange peel, lemon peel plus sakura (cherry blossom) flower and leaf, Sencha tea, Gyokuro tea (green tea grown in the shade rather than full sun), Sanshō pepper and Yuzu peel
Citrus is still obvious on the nose but the flavour is balanced with the cherry blossom and the earthier botanicals. It has a great peppery finish too. It’s a more complex gin than Nikka Coffey and would work across a variety of cocktails, particularly in a martini.
ABV 43%

Ki No Bi

Ki No Bi gin (‘The Beauty of the Seasons’) comes from The Kyoto distillery which was only founded in 2015, but is already making a name for itself. Head Distiller, Alex Davies, has a strong gin pedigree. After finishing his studies at Heriot Watt he went on to Chase and then Cotswold Distillery before heading off to Japan.

It’s the first Japanese gin made in Kyoto and the team wanted to create a gin using native ingredients  wherever possible. As a nod to the heritage of the area, they use a rice spirit base from the famous sake–brewing district, Fushimi. Their botanicals in to six different categories: Base, Citrus, Tea, Herbal, Spice and Floral. Each category is distilled separately and then blended together.

Ki No Bi Botanicals

Juniper, orris root, hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood chips make up the base botanicals. Lemon and Yuzu are the citrus. Gyokuro ( a type of tea grown in the shade) is obviously in the tea group. Ginger is the spice component, while  red shiso and bamboo leaves are the floral botanicals. Sanshō pepper and Kinome (a Japanese herb in the same family as Sanshō) fall under the herbal category
Juniper is more pronounced (hooray!) in both aroma and flavour than the other gins in the group. Yuzu is there with hints of bitterness from the tea. The full-bodied flavour is rich and it has a  lengthy dry finish with plenty of heat and spice.
ABV: 45%

Wa Bi gin

Wa Bi Gin (‘Japan Beautiful Gin’) is produced at the Tsunuki distillery, owned by Hombo Shuzo, who also own the Mars Shinshu distillery. They also use a base of rice spirit which has been twice distilled.


Juniper berries, cinnamon leaf, shell ginger, bitter orange, yuzu, kumquat, lemon, ginger, green tea leaves, and perilla (part of the mint family).
This one took me a couple of times to get my head around. Initially, I was getting a lot of malt on the nose and palate but on revisiting (and after tasting some sake for comparison – tough gig!) I think that it’s the rice spirit pushing through the botanicals a little. Definitely one for the citrus gin lovers among you, the inclusion of ginger creates a lovely warming finish. Not my favourite of the four, but I’ll be giving it another go for sure!
ABV: 45%

Drinking  Japanese gin

Most of the gins I tried are citrus forward so work well in gin and tonics and sours. However, the drier styles would be great in a Saketini (yep, a martini made with gin and sake) or a Yuzu Collins.  You could also take a look at these Sencha tea and gin cocktails.
Gin Saketini
Yuzu Collins

Verdict? My pick of the bunch has to be Ki No Bi, followed closely by Roku. It will be interesting to see what Japan will bring to the gin category over the next few years as the existing whisky distilleries expand their portfolios.

Which Japanese gins have you tried?

Yuzu Collins

I wasn’t familiar with yuzu until I began exploring Japanese Gins. A type of citrus, yuzu is common in Japanese cooking and is one of the key botanicals in Japanese gin. The flavour is part lime, part grapefruit and you know how much I love grapefruit and gin together!


The Collins is a classic cocktail from the  late 1800s having been first recorded in Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide in 1874. A Tom Collins is usually made with gin and lemon juice , but I thought a yuzu collins made with Ki No Bi Japanese gin would work well. And I was right!

Ingredients for a Yuzu Collins

45ml gin (I used Ki No Bi)
30ml yuzu juice (found in Asian supermarkets)
15ml sugar syrup
60ml Soda

How to make a Yuzu Collins

Shake the gin, yuzu juice and sugar syrup together in an ice-filled shaker. Add ice to a high ball glass, strain contents of shaker into the glass and top up with soda water. Enjoy!


4 Valentine tipples to woo your (gin) lover

I’ve never been one for Valentine’s Day, so I’m celebrating my one true love, gin, with four Valentine tipples to woo your (gin) lover.

Rosie Lee (main picture)

Infusing gin is a not-so-secret hobby of mine (check out my recipes for Earl Grey tea infused gin or Rhubarb). This stunning cocktail inspired from a recipe in the PDT cocktail book uses rose tea infused gin.

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects

I love martinis, but not everyone does. This version from Hendrick’s has the addition of Lillet Blanc, making it much more approachable.

Chocolate Negroni

Who doesn’t love receiving chocolate on Valentine’s Day? Choose from either a Chocolate Negroni or a 20th Century cocktail for your sweetheart.

Twentieth Century Cocktail

What’s your favourite Valentine’s Day cocktail?

Chocolate Negroni


My obsession with Negroni continues and this Chocolate version by industry legend, Naren Young (owner of Dante in New York) is particularly good – rich without being overly sweet.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Negroni

30ml gin (I used Beefeater)
¾ oz Campari
¾ oz sweet vermouth (I used Antica Formula)
2 dashes chocolate bitters (optional – I used orange bitters)
¼ oz white crème de cacao
Orange twist and/or a wedge of chocolate orange (for garnish)


Stir down the ingredients over ice. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish as preferred.

Gin Queen on Tour ~ Sydney February 2018

Due to popular demand we are returning to Sydney in February 2018!

Our first stop once again is Distillery Botanica, where you will meet master distiller Philip Moore, who, after twenty years as a trained horticulturist and herbalist, decided to apply his love and knowledge of botanicals to distilling. He is also the brains behind Mr Black coffee liqueur.

Gin Queen on Tour Sydney

Following a tasting of Philip’s delicious gins and a light lunch, we’ll set off to meet the team at Manly Spirits company.

Manly Spirits launched in April 2017l and have already collected a couple of medals for their gin. Vanessa, David and Tim can’t wait to meet you over a Manly G&T!

Full itinerary for Gin Queen on Tour ~ Sydney

  • 9.30am meet the Gin Bus at Circular Quay
  • 11.00am arrive at Distillery Botanica for distillery tour, gin tasting and light lunch.
  • 1.30pm Depart Distillery Botanica
  • 3pm Arrive at Manly Spirits for a G&T with the team and distillery tour
  • 4.30pm Depart Manly Spirits
  • 5.00pm Private Water Taxi to Circular Quay where tour concludes

What’s included in the ticket price?

  • Fully escorted tour hosted by Caroline Childerley, The Gin Queen!
  • Luxury Bus Charter from Circular Quay to Distillery Botanica and then Manly Spirits Company
  • Meet the distillers
  • Gin tasters
  • G&T and lunch at Distillery Botanica (limited dietary options available)
  • G&T at Manly Spirits
  • Private Water Taxi transfer to Circular Quay
  • Please note transport to Sydney and accommodation are NOT included in the ticket price.

When are we going?                                        

Saturday 10th February 2018

How much?

$160 will get you a spot on the tour.

Terms & Conditions

Attendees must be over 18.

No refunds or exchanges.

Please drink responsibly.

The tribute gin martini

Le Tribute gin

Le Tribute gin has one of the most gorgeous bottles I’ve ever seen. It’s made by MG Destilerias, a family owned distillery founded in 1835 and situated just outside Barcelona in Spain. They began as producers of syrups and medicines, hence the apothecary style bottle. Their first gin, Gin MG,  launched in 1940 and remains a strong seller in Spain. Spotting the rising gin boom, the family launched Gin Mare in 2007, to huge success (it’s certainly one of my favorites!).

Now the distillery has created Le Tribute – the LE is an abbreviation of Liquid Experience –  gin, mezcal and tonic water.

I am fortunate to have someone who could bring me a bottle from overseas as it’s not readily available in Australia (yet!)

Le Tribute gin botanicals

Le Tribute gin contains; juniper, lime, kumquat, pink and green grapefruit, tangerine, cardamom, sweet and bitter oranges and lemongrass.


MG Destilerias uses fractional distillation to make Le Tribute gin. This highly complex process involves distilling all the botanicals separately before blending them back together – Melbourne Gin Company also uses this method. Lemongrass is the only botanical distilled in water, creating a hydrosol, to retain freshness, while the others are distilled in neutral wheat spirit.

Tasting Le Tribute gin

Just by reading the ingredients you can tell this will be a citrus forward gin, but to be honest that’s an understatement! The juniper takes a back seat to the fresh, juicy citrus flavours that abound. They’ve even written ‘fresh’ on the label!

On opening the bottle the aroma of sweet orange blossom hits you before the other citrus powers through, I found grapefruit and tangerine the most dominant.

Flavourwise it’s a bold, full-bodied gin with a delicious citrus tang. I thought it was almost lemon sherbet-like. There are also herbaceous notes from the juniper and lemongrass.

This gin falls firmly into the ‘contemporary’ group of gins with a less juniper dominant flavour, but is a great example of taking the spirit to its furthermost boundaries.

Drinking Le Tribute gin

Le Tribute gin makes a great gin and tonic, but the bold citrus flavour means that it works just as well with soda water (good news for all the tonic haters). It’s so full of juicy citrus flavour that you really don’t need a garnish either, unless you want something pretty to look at!

It makes a deliciously dry martin – I used a 60/30ml ratio and garnished with orange peel and an olive. Why? Because sometimes I like both!

Le Tribute gin martini

As you’d expect from a gin with strong citrus orange flavour, it was heavenly in a negroni, with the mandarin and bitter orange emboldened by the campari.

Le tribute gin negroni

If you are looking for something a little different with a bottle to die for, Le Tribute would be a good choice!

ABV 43%

Country of Origin: Spain

Price: Medium

You can follow Le Tribute on instagram and  Facebook

herno gins sloe gin fizz

Hernö gins

Jon Hillgren, owner and distiller of Hernö gins headed off for London in the late ’90s to become a bartender. It was while learning his craft that he fell in love with gin and returned to Sweden with dreams of opening a gin distillery. Supported by friends and family he realised this dream in 2011 when Hernö Distillery became the first gin distillery in Sweden. It’s a real family affair. Both Jon’s parents work at the distillery (up until recently, his mum used to number each bottle by hand) as does his twin sister Elin.

Since launching, Jon has created a range of gins that are some of the most awarded in the World, paving paved the way for other Scandinavian gins using local botanicals like lingo berries, caraway and dill. What sets Hernö apart is that all the botanicals used are certified organic.

These include (naturally), juniper berries, coriander, fresh lemon peel, lingon berries, meadowsweet, black pepper, cassia and vanilla.

Lingon berries

All the gins are produced using a one-shot method on a copper still and cut with water from Hernö distillery’s own well.

Hernö gins still
The Hernö gins still

Hernö gin

hernö gins gin and tonic
Gin and Tonic

I tried this gin nearly three years ago now,  and fell in love with it straightaway. It’s easy to see why it’s the most awarded gin in Europe (2013–2017) and the World’s best Gin 2017. It’s a traditional London dry style with plenty of juniper and citrus. Fresh and bright, it has a subtle sweetness on the finish. A cracking gin and tonic gin!

Hernö Navy Strength

Hernö Navy Strength gimlet

Hernö Navy Strength in uses the same base at the original gin but is only diluted down to 57.7% ABV. Rich and bold, but not overwhelming, it’s superb in a gimlet.

Hernö Old Tom

Vying for one of my favourite labels,  Hernö Old Tom is a wonderful interpretation of this style of gin. Using the original Hernö gin as a base, Jon sweetens it with meadowsweet and honey, creating a deliciously well-balanced Old Tom. I love the honey notes on the finish. Try it in a Martinez.

herno gins martinez

Hernö Juniper Cask gin

Long-time readers will know I am extremely picky about barrel-aged gins. Much of the juniper character than I love so much is lost through aging. Jon’s unique method of using small juniper casks (39.25 liters) and only ‘resting the gin for 30 days, retains and deepens the juniper flavour while adding warmth and spice. Enjoy over ice or enjoy in an Old-Fashioned.

a Hernö juniper cask


hernö gins old fashioned
Old Fashioned

Hernö Sloe gin

Charlie Chaplin Cocktail

Organic sloe berries are macerated in original Hernö gin for three months before sugar is added. It’s not as sickly or cloying as some sloe gins can be and retains fresh fruit flavours. Sip neat over ice or in a Sloe Gin Fizz or Charlie Chaplin cocktail.

There are also couple of limited edition Hernö gins but the batches are too small to get any here in Australia. Hernö Blackcurrant is a fruity, jammy sensation but my favourite is the High Coast Terroir gin which changes recipe every year. All the botanicals are hand-picked by Jon in the UNESCO World Heritage Area of the High Coast, Sweden. Only 400 bottles were made last year so it sold out super quickly. Fortunately Jon brought some with him when he came to Australia for Junipalooza Melbourne and I had a taste then. It was incredible!

Hernö gins scream quality, whichever style you choose. If you want to check out the full list of awards, check out the awards page on their website! Jon’s care and attention to detail is obvious and it’s no accident that he has been the recipient of the Gin producer of the Year award by the IWSC ~ he’s also a great guy! The Hernö stand was very popular at Junipalooza Melbourne 2017 – the team completely sold out of stock in two days – so I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll see him again this year!

Jon and I at Junipalooza London 2017

You can follow Hernö on Facebook and Instagram

For stockists contact Vanguard Luxury Brands.