Join me for a special Distillers Dinner at Arc One Gallery, with food by Cumulus Inc. featuring five of Australia’s leading distillers.
Joining us will be; Cameron Mackenzie – Four Pillars Gin, Dr. Dervilla McGowan – Anther Spirits, Nicole Durdin – Seppeltsfield Road Distillers, Myffanwy Kernke – Shene Estate & Distillery and Tim Boast – Never Never Distillery.
They will each share their stories and introduce their gins before we enjoy it neat and in a cocktail matched with a delicious dish by Cumulus Inc., all in the beautiful surrounds of Arc One Gallery
Tickets are $155 and include 5 dishes, 5 gins and 5 cocktails.
Limited dietary requirements available.
Book now to avoid disappointment!
With thanks to our sponsors:
You’ve probably seen many of our native gins sharing the news of their success at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards. As per the last 2 years, I’ve done a round-up for you, covering all the winners!
This year Australian gins won 5 Double Golds (up from 2 in 2017), 7 Golds (up from 4 in 2017), 21 Silver (up from 11 in 2017) and 15 Bronze (up 8 from 2017). A total of 48 medals (up from 26 in 2017).
The state with the most medals was Victoria (15), New South Wales (13), who just pipped South Australia (12 ), followed by Tasmania (5), Queensland (2) and ACT (1).
I don’t have the final number of gins entered but given the ongoing explosion of gin, I would imagine it has significantly increased from the 268 entries in 2017.
Awards are often disregarded as ‘marketing puff’ that many consumers ignore, so I spoke to a couple of distillers to discuss the impact of winning a medal at San Francisco.
Tim Stones, Manly Spirits (Double Gold) “I’m not massively pro-awards as there are so many about. However, I do see then benefit of using them to benchmark our products against other son the market. Winning a Double Gold is a hugely validating experience and completely vindicated my choice of career change.”
Sales Manager, Rob Sutherland, also reported a bigger uptake of their gininto venues.
Sean Baxter, Never Never Distilling Co. (Gold Medal) “The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the top global comp, the one we all care about. With 43 judges and an extremely high standard, it’s our chance to see how we stack up with the world’s best gins. A gold medal for us means recognition that our gin is up there with the best in the world.”
In addition, Sean told me they were flooded with emails from potential new stockists after the announcement.
Whatever your view on awards it obviously means a lot to the people making the gin and gives them a leg up in a highly competitive market.
Here are the 2018 results in full:
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2018 (Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges.)
Manly Spirits Co Australian Dry Gin (NSW)
Archie Rose Distillers Strength (NSW)
Dobson’s New England Dry Gin (NSW)
Poltergeist Gin (Unfiltered) (TAS)
Single Shot Gin, The Melbourne Gin Company (VIC)
GOLD MEDAL 2018 (an excellent product, meeting very high standards)
Triple Juniper Gin, Never Never Distilling Co. (SA)
Brookie’s gin (NSW)
Brookie’s Byron Slow Gin, Cape Byron (NSW)
Roots and Leaves Gin, Distillery Botanica (NSW)
Something Wild Green Ant Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery
Billy Goats Gin, Saleyards Distillery (QLD)
Prohibition gin (SA)
SILVER MEDAL 2016 (A finely crafted spirit, well above average.)
Coastal Citrus Gin, Manly Spirits (NSW)
Horisumi Summer Gin, Archie Rose(NSW)
Signature Dry Gin, Archie Rose(NSW)
Sweet Pea Gin, Dobson’s(NSW)
Whisky Barrel Aged Gin, Manly Spirits(NSW)
Barrel Aged Gin, Twenty Third Street (SA)
Signature Gin, Twenty Third Street (SA)
Bathtub Cut Gin, Prohibition (SA)
Yuzu Gin, Settlers Spirits (SA)
Gin, A True Spirit, Poltergeist (TAS)
Arboretum Gin, Animus (VIC)
Bartender Series Spiced Negroni Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)
Distiller Series Dry Island Gin, Four Pillars x Hernö (VIC)
Gin, BeGin (VIC)
Macedon Dry Gin, Animus (VIC)
Navy Strength Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)
Pink Gin, BeGin (VIC)
78° Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery (SA)
Dry Gin, Hippocampus (VIC)
Lady Susanne Gin, TerraAustralis Distillery (VIC)
Signature Gin, Underground Spirits (ACT)
Bronze (A well-crafted spirit that deserves recognition.)
What is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition?
Launched in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition is considered the most respected and influential spirits competition in the world, with a rigorous judging process involving highly controlled blind-tastings with an expert panel who only receive information on spirit type, ABV and age (where applicable) to remove bias.
A few weeks ago I managed to squeeze in a trip to Adelaide. South Australia is fast becoming the gin state, so I was excited to see a few of the new distilleries popping up. Top of my list was Ambleside Distillers, who opened in November 2017.
I’d recently met Steve, Trudy, Matt and Matt’s partner Bella, when I hosted the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. Their Small Acre gin had picked up a Silver medal, which they were naturally delighted about and I was keen to hear more about them.
Ambleside Distillers is a family business. Steve and Trudy’s son Matt was working in London just as Sipsmith opened in 2006. If you recall, Sipsmith was the first gin distillery to open in London for 200 years and played a huge part in the new gin renaissance. Seeing the response to the new wave of gins, when Matt returned to Australia he began discussing the idea of opening a distillery with his parents, where they lived in Hahndorf.
Although the weather was not kind (rain!), the distillery is in a beautiful location and Hahndorf is a major tourism centre, making it the perfect spot for a distillery to thrive. The distillery is on the main road into the town and Steve grinned and told me “If we don’t get you on the way in, we’ll get you as you leave!”. There was certainly plenty of interest when I visited. A steady stream of visitors began arriving immediately the doors opened.
The team have launched three gins, which might ambitious, but they just each made a gin that they really liked!
Trudy’s gin is the No. 8 Botanical, and is made with organic Riverland oranges, and Big Dry gin is Matt’s invention. Steve’s recipe is made with ingredients grown around the distillery, including apple, bay leaf and rhubarb. There is some healthy competition between the three, with Trudy saying, “Steve may have won a Silver medal, but mine sells the most!”
Like many distilleries in Australia (including Melbourne gin company, Ambleside Distillers have used grape based spirit from Tarac, while the still was commissioned from a company in Ballarat and is completely copper throughout. With the distillery industry growing, it’s wonderful to see traditional businesses like still-making, also receiving a boost.
All of the Ambleside gins are really tasty, however, my favourite of the three was the Big Dry gin made by Matt.
Big Dry Gin Botanicals
Aside from juniper berries, Matt has incorporated jalapeño peppers, kaffir lime leaf, thyme, rosemary, and coriander seed.
Tasting Big Dry Gin
Looking at the botanicals, you can guess that it will be savoury and herbaceous and it doesn’t disappoint. There is lots of juniper on the nose, with citrus from the coriander and kaffir lime also noticeable. The fresh, piney flavour develops into herbal notes , but it’s also fresh and grassy which I put down to the jalapeño pepper. Matt has skillfully captured the freshness of the pepper without the heat.
Drinking Big Dry Gin
Big Dry gin is perfect g&t material. Matt served it garnished with a slice of jalapeño and coffee beans, an absolutely delicious combination which I copied when I got home.
Mother’s Day is coming up in a few weeks, so I’m giving one lucky person the chance to win one of my Esa Evans gin necklaces to show that special woman how much you care!
All you have to do is complete the form below and in 50 words or less tell me why your mum/partner/wife/mother of your child needs this necklace.
THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED
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!
- 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
$120 will get you a spot on the tour.
Terms & Conditions
Attendees must be over 18.
No refunds or exchanges.
Please drink responsibly.
Usually when I’m writing for ‘gin of the week’, the gin is brand new, so it’s great to be able to revisit a gin that’s been established for a few years. Death’s Door gin has been available sporadically in Australia, but now it’s part of the Vanguard Luxury Brands portfolio, you can expect to see more of it.
There are only a handful of excellent American gins – Junipero and Aviation ( BEFORE Ryan bought it!!) being two of my favorites. The US remains firmly wedded to aged spirits and its corn/rye heritage which don’t always work as a base for the delicate botanicals used in gin. However, Death’s Door gin is an exception.
The story behind Death’s Door gin ticks all the sustainability and locality boxes, and did so way before it was fashionable. Historically, the Washington Island in Wisconsin had been known for potato farming, but the industry died out in the 1970s. Locals moved into tourism focussed industries or left the island altogether.
In 2005 a small group got together to see if agriculture could be restored. Working in collaboration with the Michael Fields Institute, they selected specific variety of hard, red winter wheat that could withstand the maritime conditions. They began with a few seed and 5 acres. This has now grown to 1, 200! The wheat was initially used for bread and then the local brewery but eventually went on to become the base of all of Death’s Door Spirits.
The distillery expanded in 2012 and is now the largest craft distillery in Wisconsin with an annual capacity of 250,000 cases of finished product!
Why Death’s Door?
The Door Peninsula and Washington Island form a treacherous stretch of water that connects Green Bay to the rest of Lake Michigan. The Early French explorers named this water Porte des Morts, which literally means “Door of the Dead” or, “Death’s Door” due to the number of shipwrecks and gave rise to the gin’s name.
There are only THREE botanicals in Death’s Door gin: juniper, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds and come from the state when possible. There is an annual juniper harvest festival on Washington Island whereby guests can pick wild juniper berries!
The juniper used is Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red cedar) rather than Junipers communis.
Tasting Death’s Door Gin
Death Door Spirits use vodka as a base for their gin, and this is made using the aforementioned red winter wheat, corn and malted barley, but unlike some American gins, it doesn’t dominate the botanicals.
There is plenty of lovely juniper at the front of the palate before spice and lemon come through from the coriander, before a crisp, dry aniseed finish from the fennel. Go easy with the tonic for a G&T, or even try it with soda, and you’ll need to add lots of citrus to boost the flavour.
It was absolutely stunning in a martini, that base has a fabulous texture and the fennel combines well with vermouth. Divine!
When so much is made of the number and diversity of botanicals in gin these days, it’s refreshing to see how much can be achieved when you pare everything back. This gin was truly ahead of its time and in spite of the unusual base and heavy fennel I think this could be a useful and versatile gin to have in your arsenal.
If you haven’t tried it seek it out immediately!
The winners of the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards were announced at Ormond Hall in Prahran last Thursday.
I have attended every awards ceremony since their inception in 2015 but in 2017 and 2018 I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the judging panel in the gin category as well as host the awards ceremony. Both are duties I don’t take lightly!
There were over 300 spirits submitted across all categories this year and judging is managed and organised under the tightest of conditions.
As judges we don’t see any bottles over the two days and the spirits are presented pre-poured in tasting glasses ready for judging. Judging sheets simply have spaces to give marks for colour/appearance (/10), nose (/20), palate (/40), balance (/10) and finish (/20) and no other information, including the ABV to avoid spirits being identified.
Medals are presented as follows:
Gold (90 – 100 points) A Gold Medal Exhibit is an outstanding spirit, liqueur or bitters for the type of product that it is.
Silver (82 – 89.9) points) A Silver Medal Exhibit is an excellent spirit, liqueur or bitters for the type of product that it is.
Bronze (74 – 81.9 points) A Bronze Medal Exhibit is a very good spirit, liqueur or bitters for the type of product that it is.
There were 7 categories for gin and the results were as follows:
LONDON DRY CATEGORY
Kalki Moon Premium London Dry Gin, Kalki Moon Distilling & Brewing Company, QLD
Poor Toms Fool Strength, Poor Toms Distillery NSW
Suter & Sons Dry Gin, Victoria
Sin Gin No 5 Greed The Murray Hotel, Western Australia
Animus Macedon Dry Gin, Animus Distillery, Kyneton, Victoria
Manly Spirits Australian Dry Gin, Manly Spirits Co., NSW
Triple Juniper Gin, Never Never Distilling Co, SA
1829 Gin, Old Youngs Distillery, WA
Poltergeist Gin – Unfiltered, Shene Estate & Distillery, Tasmania
Sin Gin No 2 Lust~ The Murray Hotel, Western Australia
Sin Gin No 6 Gluttony The Murray Hotel, Western Australia
Prohibition Gin ~ Applewood distillery, South Australia
Kalki Moon Classic London Dry Gin ~ Kalki Moon Distilling & Brewing Company, QLD
Classic Dry Gin ~ McHenry Distillery, Tasmania
Original Classic Dry ~Original Spirit Co., Victoria
Poltergeist Gin True Spirit ~ Shene Estate & Distillery, Tasmania
Spring Bay Gin ~ Spring Bay Distillery, Tasmania
Sin Gin No 1 Pride ~ The Murray Hotel, WA
Sin Gin No 3 Sloth ~ The Murray Hotel, WA
36 Short Original Gin ~ Virginia Spirits Pty Ltd, SA
Animus Arboretum Gin Animus Distillery, Kyneton, Victoria
Lawrenny Van Diemen’s Gin, Lawrenny Estate Distillery, Tasmania
Six Seasons Gin Old Young’s, Western Australia
Anther Gin ~ The Craft & Co, Victoria
78° Gin ~ Adelaide Hills Distillery, South Australia
Small Acre Gin ~ Ambleside Distillers Pty Ltd, South Australia
Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin ~ Cape Byron Distillery, NSW
Fossey’s Gin Fossey’s Gin, Victoria
Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin ~ Healesville Distilling Co., Victoria
Hellfire Bluff Distillery Piquant ~ Hellfire Bluff Distillery, Tasmania
Hellfire Bluff Distillery Summer Gin ~ Hellfire Bluff Distillery, Tasmania
Kis Wild Gin ~ Kangaroo Island Spirits, South Australia
Lawrenny 1818 Settlers Gin ~ Lawrenny Estate Distillery, Tasmania
Cooper’s Best Gin ~ Mark Moran Group, New South Wales
Settlers Zuzu Gin ~ Settlers Spirits, South Australia
Red Hen Gin ~ Small Batch Distilling T/A Red Hen Gin, South Australia
Dasher + Fisher Ocean Gin ~ Southern Wild Distillery Pty Ltd Tasmania
Suter&Sons G&Tea ~ Suter & Sons, Victoria
Balcombe Dry Gin ~ The Craft & Co, Victoria
Twenty Third Street Distillery Signature Gin ~ Twenty Third Street Distillery, SA
Aqua Vitae Modern Gin ~ 7K Distillery, Tasmania
The Abel GIN co-Essence Gin ~ Abel Distillers, Tasmania
Adams’ Turbo Gin ~ Adams Distillery, Tasmania
Something Wild Beverage Company Green Ant Gin ~ Adelaide Hills Distillery, South Australia
Chamomile Dry Gin ~ Alchemy Distillers, Victoria
No. 8 Botanical Gin ~ Ambleside Distillers Pty Ltd, South Australia
Big Dry Gin ~ Ambleside Distillers Pty Ltd, South Australia
Animus Ambrosian Gin~ Animus Distillery, Victoria
Applewood Gin ~ Applewood Distillery, South Australia
Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin ~ Archie Rose Distilling Co., New South Wales
Archie Rose Distillers Strength Gin ~ Archie Rose Distilling Co New South Wales
Gin 10 – Wild & Spicy ~ Bass and Flinders Distillery Pty Ltd, Victoria
Gin – Soft & Smooth ~ Bass and Flinders Distillery Pty Ltd, Victoria
Angry Ant Gin ~ Bass and Flinders Distillery Pty Ltd, Victoria
Hippocampus Bangkok Gin ~ Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers, Victoria
Cedar Fox Distilling Co. Gin ~ Cedar Fox Distilling Co. Pty Ltd, Victoria
OLD TOM GIN
Kis Old Tom ~ Kangaroo Island Spirits, South Australia
NAVY STRENGTH GIN
OTHER (UNLISTED GIN) – does not fit into any other category
On the final day of judging, all the gold medal winning gins are evaluated alongside each other and an overall winner selected by the judges.
This CHAMPION GIN trophy was won by Anther gin!
Gin distillers also did well in the Smaller Scale Production Trophies, with Suter & Sons winning Champion Australian Micro Batch Spirit:
While Animus Distillery was awarded Champion Australian Small Batch Spirit for their Arboretum Gin.
Gin and vodka distiller, James Young from Old Young’s Distillery in WA picked up the Champion Distiller award for the second year running for achieving the highest total score across his entries.
It was wonderful to watch the response of the winners, it obviously means so much. All the entrants receive a score as well as constructive feedback. Everyone I spoke to saw the awards as a way of benchmarking themselves within our fledgling spirits industry.
For full results across all the categories head here.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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
$150 will get you a spot on the tour.
Terms & Conditions
Attendees must be over 18.
No refunds or exchanges.
Please drink responsibly.
Nikka Coffey Gin
Roku – Suntory
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.
Ki No Bi Botanicals
Wa Bi gin
Drinking Japanese gin
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?