Australian Distilled Spirits Awards Gin Results 2018

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

GOLD

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

SILVER

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

BRONZE

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

CONTEMPORARY GIN

GOLD

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

SILVER

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

BRONZE

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

Silver

London Vs Collingwood Old Tom ~ The Craft & Co, Victoria

Bronze

Kis Old Tom ~ Kangaroo Island Spirits, South Australia

NAVY STRENGTH GIN

Gold

Common Gin ~ Old Young’s, Western Australia

Silver

Fossey’s Navel Strength Gin Elixir ~Fossey’s Gin, Victoria

Bronze

Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin ~Healesville Distilling Co P/L, Victoria
The Buccaneer ~ Kilderkin Distillery Pty Ltd, Victoria
Wildbrumby Stallion Gin “Navy Strength” ~ Wildbrumby, New South Wales

BARREL-AGED GIN

Silver

Cedar Fox Distilling Co. Oak Gin, Cedar Fox Distilling Co. Pty Ltd, Victoria
Kalki Moon Solstice Barrel Aged London Dry Gin ~ Kalki Moon Distilling & Brewing Company, QLD
Kis Whisky Barrel Gin ~ Kangaroo Island Spirits, South Australia

Bronze

Bathtub Gin ~Catcher & Co Distillery, New South Wales
Four Pillars Sherry Cask Gin ~ Healesville Distilling Co P/L, Victoria
Giniversity Barrel Aged Gin ~ Great Southern Distilling Company, Western Australia
Kilderkin Distillery Barrel Aged ~Kilderkin Distillery Pty Ltd, Victoria
Old B.A.G. ~ Old Young’s, Western Australia

SLOE GIN

Silver

McHenry Sloe Gin ~McHenry Distillery, Tasmania

Bronze

Dasher + Fisher Sloe Gin ~ Southern Wild Distillery Pty Ltd, Tasmania
Settlers Sloe Gin ~ Settlers Spirits, South Australia

OTHER (UNLISTED GIN) – does not fit into any other category

Silver

Brookie’s Byron Slow Gin Cape Byron Distillery, New South Wales

Bronze

Anther Cherry Gin ~ The Craft & Co, Vic
Monsoon Gin, Flavored Gin ~ Bass and Flinders Distillery Pty Ltd, Victoria
Prohibition Bathtub Cut Gin, Overproof ~Applewood distillery, South Australia

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!

Dr Dervilla McGowan from Anther Spirits with their Champion Gin trophy

Gin distillers also did well in the Smaller Scale Production Trophies, with Suter & Sons winning Champion Australian Micro Batch Spirit:

Matthew Suter of Suter & Sons with his trophy (image supplied)

While Animus Distillery was awarded Champion Australian Small Batch Spirit for their Arboretum Gin.

The Animus Distillery team with their trophy (image supplied)

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.

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!

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
Orange blossom cocktail
Florodora
Florodora

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.

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

Botanicals

Yuzu
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

Botanicals

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.

Botanicals

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?

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.

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.

Colombo No. 7 gin

Although Colombo No. 7 gin was only launched in 2015, this gin has a story going back 70 years.

Rockland Distillery was founded in 1924, and was the first commercial distillery in Sri Lanka . Originally they made Arrack, but were asked by the British Government to switch production to other spirits to support the war effort. A special regulation was passed to allow non-native spirits to be produced (CMFL, Ceylon Foreign Made Foreign Liquor).

Colombo No. 7 Gin
Newspaper coverage of Rockland Distillery opening.

Founder Carl de Silva Wijeyeratne’s favourite gin was Tanqueray, so his recipe was based on this. However, the war prevented Carl accessing traditional gin botanicals, so he had to look closer to home. Cinnamon (from the cinnamon gardens of Sri Lanka), ginger and curry leaf were added to his base of juniper, coriander, angelica and licorice.

When Carl’s grandson, Amal,  joined the company in 2005 to rebuild the distillery following the tsunami in 2004, he delved into the archives and discovered his grandfather’s original recipe and decided to relaunch it as Colombo No. 7.

Today, Amal has moved production of Colombo No. 7 to the UK to protect the business from government intervention, however, the gin remains true to his grandfather’s recipe.

Tasting Colombo No. 7 gin

Colombo Gin No. 7 at Junipalooza Melbourne (image by Bar/d Up)

Having read the list of botanicals, I was expecting something a bit weird tasting, and possibly over spiced. I am not a fan of cinnamon either. So It was a relief to discover that Colombo No. 7 is a properly balanced gin. Juniper and citrus aromas and flavours abound, followed by subtle cinnamon. The finish has great white pepper notes. In case you were wondering it doesn’t taste of curry!

Drinking Colombo No. 7 gin

Pretty much a perfect G&T, crisp with juniper and citrus with the curry leaves coming through on the finish. I used their suggested garnish of curry leaves which was delicious, but there are plenty of other garnishes that could work well like ginger, lime or mango (that one courtesy of my friends at Gin Foundry!).

In a martini, I’d definitely go dry with a twist of lemon or lime. I loved Colombo No. 7 in a Negroni,  the  cinnamon, angelica and licorice providing a solid balance against the Campari. I used cinnamon stick for a garnish/stirrer.

This was an unexpected delight of a gin and already a firm favourite at GQHQ!

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 43.1%

Price Medium

You can follow Colombo No. 7 gin on Facebook, twitter and instagram

Garden Tiger Gin

Garden Tiger gin from Carpreoulus Distillery (named after the Roe Deer) won the hugely prestigious ‘Whisky Exchange Spirit of the Year 2017’.

Distiller, Barney Wilczek, started out as a photographer covering conservation stories and this fascination with the natural world lead to a journey into distilling. Garden Tiger gin was not the spirit he made. Instead, Barney’s initially focussed on making Eaux de Vie (fruit brandies that are created through fermentation and distillation).

Unlike many of the gins that come to market at the moment with the botanical recipe is kept a secret, although Barney admits to using organic blood oranges and mullein, a flowering plant that has been used as a herbal remedy for years.

Mullein

Barney uses several processes in creating Garden Tiger gin. The hard spices, berries and herbs are macerated in neutral grain spirit for 40 hours, while fresh blood orange zest, flowers and leaves are vapour infused. In total 34 ingredients are combined during a slow 7 hour distillation. Barney insists on avoiding chill filtering which can remove some of the flavours produced.

Tasting Garden Tiger Gin

The aroma of fresh oranges is apparent almost immediately with subtle hints of cardamom and juniper. Bright, fresh orange flavours filled my mouth, lengthening into a delicious peppery warmth. At the end there is a touch of bitterness you’d find in orange peel and a little sherbet-like fizz. Garden Tiger gin is a full-bodied gin, delicious neat over ice or in a cocktail.

Drinking Garden Tiger GIn

I only had lime to hand when it came to garnishing my Garden Tiger G&T, but think a slice of orange would work better.

garden tiger gin bottle and negroni

As you’d expect with a gin using blood oranges as a botanical, Garden Tiger gin makes an excellent Negroni. The full flavours in Garden Tiger gin would add a delicious richness in a Martinez.

The attention to detail, from the hand fed letter-press labels, the embellished cork to the distinctive bottle are signs of the quality you can expect from the liquid within.

Country of Origin: UK

ABV:47%

Price: High

Available from Nicks Wine Merchants

Gin Palace turns 20!

Gin Palace turns 20!

When I first started Then Gin Queen, Gin Palace was the first place to go and learn all I could from then-manager Shaun Byrne (Now Maidenii) and current manager Trish Brew.

World Gin Day 2017

In an ever-fickle world, bars come and go and it’s considered a success to pass the 2-3 year mark. So for Gin Palace, Melbourne to be celebrating her 20th Birthday next week, is a truly amazing achievement!

Back in 1997, Vernon Chalker’s vision (along with Daniel Besen, Robert Lehrer, and Michael Kantor) was for a friendly cocktail lounge with no attitude and table service, unheard of in the ’90s!

The bar was designed to imitate an 1870’s lounge bar in Budapest, renovated in the 1950’s. Martinis and cigars were the order of the day, whilst Burt Bacharach and the James Bond theme played until 3am.

Having seen off the The GFC and the change to smoking laws, Gin Palace is now embracing the wave of new local and global craft gins. To celebrate her 20 years of service Gin Palace is closing Russell Place for one day only, not only as a celebration for Gin Palace but also for the laneway and Melbourne itself.

Gin Palace turns 20!

**WIN 2 VIP tickets to the Gin Palace turns 20 party**

Join me on the red carpet for what promises to the party of the year! There will be martinis on arrival, oysters, chicken sandwiches, a band from 5.30 and a roulette table in the Casino Royal! (Swamp room) If you’ve  ever been to Gin Palace on World Gin Day, you’ll know the team know how to party!

For a chance to win simply answer the following question:

Terms & Conditions

  • Competition open to over 18s only
  • One entry per person (duplicates will be deleted)
  • Competition closes on Wednesday 1st November at midnight
  • Winners will be notified within 24 hours.

GOOD LUCK!

Never Never Distilling Co Triple Juniper Gin

I am very fortunate doing what I do, I tend to hear about the latest gins before they reach the stores and often get to try samples and early developmental iterations and asked to give feedback. I get to see and taste the latest experimentations from a  wide variety of distillers and am in awe of their talent and innovation.

However, I sometimes wonder whether the quest to have a “point of difference” to all the others gins out there (approximately 6,000) means distillers are straying too far from what makes gin (i.e. JUNIPER), gin resulting in little more than flavored vodka with the word gin on the label. I’m not saying there is anything wrong flavoured vodka, but there the cynic in me does question whether “GIN” is being slapped on a label because people know that gin sells.

So it was an immense relief (I may have actually gasped in delight) when I heard about Never Never gin and read the words “Triple Juniper gin on the label. As an unashamed juniper junkie I confess the pine and camphor notes of juniper fizzing around in a gin and tonic are what makes me happy. The last time a gin made this happy was when I tasted Sipsmith’s VJOP, another juniper-rich gin.

Triple Juniper  gin is made in Adelaide by Tim, Sean and George from The Never Never Distilling Co. The name comes from the terms ‘Never Never’ which was first recorded in the late 19th century and was used to describe the uninhabited regions of Australia – then called just ‘The Never-Never’. The more remote regions of Australia’s outback are still known by that name. “Heading into the Never Never” was a test of strength and courage, with many an early explorer perishing in the vast expanses of Australia’s harsh outback.

For the team this term best describes the the excitement, dreams and the challenges that stretch out for a thousand miles in the journey of every small Australian distillery.

The Never Never Distilling team, from L: R George, Tim and Sean

I caught up with the team when I was in Adelaide recently and had a gander at their teeny tiny distillery (expansion looms) and to find out more about Never Never Distilling Co.

The trio met in typical Adelaide fashion (i.e. everyone knows everyone) with Tim and Sean’s wives being best friends. Tim and George were at Uni together and when the three of them met at Whisky Live one year, the idea of making gin (and eventually whisky) in Adelaide was born.

The still was designed and made in Melbourne by Spark Brewing ( it was one of the  first stills to come off their assembly line) and is a 300L copper pot with a  5 plate rectification column and gin vapour basket, both of which can be disconnected from the copper pot if required, allowing plenty of flexibility in terms of what the team can create. They decided to decided to call her ‘Wendy’ because there could not have been a lovelier sight!

Never Never gin

As the name Triple Juniper gin suggests, the Never Never team use three different techniques to extract the most flavour from the juniper. They macerate (steep the juniper in the alcohol before distillation), distill in the pot and vapour infuse the berries to achieve the bold juniper flavour profile.

Triple Juniper Gin Botanicals

In addition to juniper the team use Australian coriander (they felt provided a brighter citrus and less earthiness than other coriander) plus angelica, orris root, native pepper berry  and a small amount of cinnamon.

Tasting Never Never Triple Juniper Gin

The divine juniper gin sings out immediately upon opening the bottle, with zesty citrus aromas that made my mouth water. On tasting it has a bright piney juniper flavour with fresh citrus following through and a hint of rosemary. Earthy orris and angelica balance out the juniper and pleasant heat from the pepper berry provides a warm finish. Delicious and full-bodied with plenty of texture, Triple Juniper Gin makes a stunning G&T but is outstanding in a martini as I discovered at Maybe Mae in Adelaide.

Never never gin
A stunning Dry Martini made its Triple Juniper Gin at Maybe Mae, Adelaide

Dark Series Southern Strength

Never Never’s Dark Series will consist of experimental and limited edition spirits. The first of these is their Southern Strength. Described by the team as a “beast of a gin” and coming in at 52% ABV you can see why. They used the same technique as with the Triple Juniper gin, but have tweaked the recipe slightly.

Army & Navy Cocktail made with Never Never Southern Strength gin

It’s certainly bolder than the original, without being overpowering. The smoothness hides the higher ABV. It has a  slightly oily, resinous texture. Juniper is still the driving force, but the tweak to the recipe has given it a lengthier finish. I used this to make a glorious Army and Navy cocktail.

I am often over enthusiastic about gin. I do LOVE it so. However, with Never Never Triple Juniper Gin, I would go out on a limb and say that this is probably the best gin I have tasted all year (so far!).

Origin: Australia

ABV: 43/53%

Price: Medium

You can follow Never Never Distilling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

They will also be joining us at Junipalooza Melbourne in October. To get your tickets click here.