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 17 March 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.

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.

rosie-lee-cocktail

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)

Method

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.

Distilling

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.

lingonberries
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
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
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.

Meet the Distiller ~ Tim Stones

I’m very excited to share this interview with Tim Stones, Head Distiller at Manly Spirits with you. Long time readers will recognise Tim from this article I wrote a couple of years ago when Tim was Global Brand Ambassador at Beefeater. During my 2016 trip to Tales of the Cocktail, Tim confided that he was moving to Australia and was looking for a change of career.

How long have you been a distiller?

I’ve been distilling on and off for a few years, but finally made the move to full-time when I relocated to Australia in January 2017.

Did you always want to work in distilling?

It wasn’t something I had really considered in my previous bartending life, but once I started at Beefeater and spent more time around distilleries, I grew more and more fascinated by the whole process.

How did you become a distiller?

While working at Beefeater I had the pleasure to work with Desmond Payne, and Sean Harrison from Plymouth. Working with those guys made me realise it was something I wanted to pursue. During my time as Beefeater Global Ambassador I studied for my  General Certificate in Distilling and completed hands-on training with the teams both in London and Scotland. Then, as fortune has it, a certain Melbourne-based gin blogger (GQ: that’s me!) then put me in touch with Manly Spirits Co., and here we are.

What is the best thing about your job?

When a recipe finally clicks. It’s a good feeling.

What is the most challenging thing about distilling gin? 

The balance of the botanicals. A gram, or even a fraction of a gram, either way can really change the profile of the product. Also, I’m now working with native Australian botanicals, so there’s a whole load of stuff I’ve never tried before and using those can be challenging at times.

How do you choose which botanicals to use?

Using the Aussie botanicals is pretty inspiring. As I mentioned, there are flavours that I’ve never come across so there are plenty of things to experiment with. The hardest part is choosing what not to use!

Who/what inspires you?

Desmond (Payne, Master Distiller at Beefeater) and Sean (Harrison, Master Distiller at Plymouth gin) have been my two mentors so obviously, them, and I really admire some of the Aussie producers. Also, caffeine.

Your favourite gin cocktail and why?

The Dry Martini. Because the gin has nowhere to hide.

Which are your favourite bars (anywhere in the world)

I really miss Happiness Forgets in London, but am enjoying reacquainting myself with the Sydney scene. High Five in Tokyo, Mother’s Ruin in NYC, and The Gin Joint in Athens are always first on my list if I’m in town. 

What’s next? Any future plans?

The gin and botanical vodka recipes are sorted and winning awards! And we’ve just started making whisky so I’m super excited about that. It’s going to take up a lot of my time, but I’ll be constantly on the lookout for botanicals to make some interesting new gins.

Manly Spirits Gin

 

You can meet Tim on Saturday 10th Feb as part of Gin Queen on Tour ~ Sydney. Get your tickets here.

Top 10 Australian Gins 2017

Top 10 Australian Gins of 2017

2017 was another massive year for Australian gin and the passion evident from our eager guests at Junipalooza Melbourne shows that there is a great appetite for local gins. Which is fantastic as 2018 will see even more gin distilleries opening!

For now, though, I’ve put together my Top 10 Australian gins for 2017. It was a tough job to limit my list to just ten. Obviously, making a list like this is very subjective and I know many of you will have your own favorites. Note, I’ve only included gins that are readily available to the exclusion of some limited editions.

Why did these gins make the list? Excellent quality base spirit is a must. The more neutral the better as it allows the botanicals to shine. All of these gins have great balance. During my event in September with Leslie Gracie, master distiller of Hendrick’s gin, she spoke passionately about balance in gin making, creating a ’roundness’ of flavours without ‘spikes’ of dominant botanicals.

Interestingly, and not deliberately, three out of the ten are all from Adelaide, showing the dominance South Australia is showing within the industry.

Loch Brewery & Distillery G&T gin

Craig and Mel from Loch Brewery and Distillery have already created two great gins; with their original and ‘The Weaver‘, which is one of my favourite gins using native botanicals. Craig has been tinkering with a recipe for a gin and tonic gin for some time before releasing it this year. Featuring juniper, bergamot, pepper berry, aniseed myrtle, roasted wattleseed and coriander, this is a wonderfully balanced addition to the Loch range.

Wild Brumby The Stallion Navy Strength gin

Wild Brumby’s origins lie in making schnapps, but their foray into gin making this year has yielded impressive results. Out of the three gins, Stallion got my vote. At 57% it’s a bold gin but easily sipped over ice. Citrus forward with a mouth-watering pepper berry finish, it’s perfect as a G&T but fabulous as a gimlet.

Distillery Botanica Rather Royal Gin

Philip Moore, one of Australia’s most distinguished distillers, collaborated with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney to produce the Rather Royal Gin, a fancier version of his Garden Grown Gin. As you’d expect from Philip, it’s a beautiful, floral gin, bursting with delicate flavours, so be careful not to drown it with an overpowering tonic.

Anther (formerly Artemis) Cherry gin

Anther’s original gin is a delicious juniper forward spirit and they use this as a base for their Cherry gin. Tasmanian cherries are macerated in the gin for three weeks before being removed and soaked in water to get the last of their juice. This cherry water is then used to cut the gin (dilute) to bottling strength. Surprisingly complex, fruity but with an expectedly dry finish. I like it with soda water.

Dasher & Fisher Ocean gin

Southern Wild Distillery

Distiller, George Burgess at Southern Wild Distillery in Devonport has a background in food science and set out to create gins that can be enjoyed alongside food. All three gins contain a base of Tasmanian pepper berry, locally sourced lavender and wakame seaweed that are dialed up or down in each variety. My favourite is the Ocean gin which is driven by the wakame seaweed which fills your mouth with umami before moving onto a delicate somewhat floral finish. George has succeeded in creating a gin that captures the Tasmanian seascape.

McHenry Federation gin

William McHenry selected botanicals from each State in Australia; Kakadu plum from the Northern Territory, lemon myrtle from Queensland, strawberry gum from New South Wales, mountain pepperleaf from the ACT, cinnamom myrtle from Victoria, celery top pine from Tasmania, wattleseed from South Australia, and quandong from Western Australia and  distilled them individually before blending them together to create this tasty, vibrant and quintessentially Australian gin!

Red Hen Dry gin

Red Hen Gin

A group of friends who caught the old Red Hen trains to school together decided to make a gin together in the Adelaide CBD, while continuing with their day jobs. Less than a month after launching Red Hen Gin it took out the ‘Champion Small Batch Spirit’ at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards! This vapour infused gin contains native muntrie berries, citrus and peppercorns but is a wonderfully traditional London dry style gin.

Green Ant gin

Green Ant gin

Adelaide Hills’ collaboration with Something Wild beverages, is a bright, citrus forward gin that uses green ants as a botanical. More than just a gimmick, Green Ant gin supports Indigenous communities from where the green ants are harvested and illustrates how native botanicals can be used imaginatively and sustainably.

Manly Spirits gin

Manly Spirits Gin

Manly Spirits gin burst on to the Australian gin scene with its beautifully designed bottle and interesting use of native botanicals that include locally foraged sea lettuce. They’ve recently added a Coastal gin to the line-up and I would also include this edition in my pick of 2017 gins.

Never Never Triple Juniper gin

I fell hard for Never Never Triple Juniper gin when it was released in August. Yes, they’ve used native botanicals but this gin shrieks juniper, juniper and more juniper and is everything a great gin should be. Without a doubt, my Australian gin of 2017. The Southern Strength and Juniper Freak versions have also proved popular at GQHQ and I can’t wait to see what the team have in store for 2018.

Gin egg nog

Traditionally, egg nog is served warm, and sipped while you toast your toes in front of a roaring log fire, which would be fine, if I wasn’t living in Australia where you can cook your eggs on the pavement during December

Still, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without egg nog, and although rum, brandy or bourbon are the usual spirits. I’m making mine with…SURPRISE! gin!

The first Egg Nog recipe can be served warm or cold, in fact mine is chilling down in the fridge as we speak. The second recipe is almost a flip rather than an egg nog, but is a good option if you are pressed for time.

If you are concerned about raw eggs in cocktails, Bartender magazine has an interesting explainer article here. Also, for my vegan friends, this looks like a good option.

gin egg nog
Adding a little nutmeg.

Traditional egg nog (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients

170ml Four Pillars Christmas Gin
500ml Milk
250mL Cream
3 Eggs, separated
1/2 Cup of sugar
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

Method

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with sugar in a mixing bowl
  2. Gently heat milk and cinnamon in a saucepan over a low heat for 5 minutes
  3. Add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan, slowly folding it in
  4. Stir constantly and don’t allow to boil
  5. Slowly add the gin, cream and nutmeg, stirring continuously.

 

Serve hot garnished with a cinnamon quill, or refrigerate overnight and serve cold over ice topped with a sprinkle of nutmeg or brown sugar.

Quick egg nog

Ingredients

30ml Citadelle No Mistake Old Tom gin
15ml Cognac
20ml simple syrup
90ml Almond milk
30ml Heavy cream
1 Egg

Method

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker without ice and shake vigorously. Add ice and continue to shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with star anise.