Australian gins scoop 23 medals at IWSC

The IWSC (International Wines and Spirits Competition) is up there with the San Francisco World Spirits Awards in terms of prestige. Now in its 48th year, the IWSC not only has an experienced judging panel, but also puts each entry under chemical analysis to ensure the products are what they say they are. Integrity, accuracy and impartiality are at the heart of the competition’s ethos.

This year, the IWSC received nearly 400 gin entries from 35 different countries – an enormous 571% increase since 2013!

23 Australian gins were awarded medals; One gold medal, 17 silvers and 6 bronze.

Here are the winners:

GOLD MEDAL

Moore’s Dry Gin, Distillery Botanica, Erina, NSW

(PSA: Gin Queen on Tour to Sydney on 6th September will be visiting Distillery Botanica. Tickets available here.)

SILVER MEDALS

Brookie's gin

Brookie’s Gin Silver Outstanding, Cape Byron Distillery, NSW ~ Contemporary Styles

Angry Ant Gin

Angry Ant Gin, Bass & Flinders, Victoria ~ Contemporary Styles

Gin – Soft & Smooth , Bass & Flinders ~  Contemporary Styles

Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength Gin, Sydney, NSW ~Contemporary Styles
PLUS  Bronze 2017 in Gin & Tonic category

IWSC

Botanical Gin, Great Southern Distilling Company, WA ~ Contemporary Styles

IWSC results

Copper wave Gin, Hunter Distillery, NSW ~  Old Tom

IWSC results

Darley’s Gin, Aldi Stores Aust/Asahi ~ London Dry

four-pillars-barrel-aged-gin

Four Pillars Barrel Aged Gin, Healesville, Vic ~  Wood Finished
Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin, Healesville, Vic ~ Contemporary Styles
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, Healesville, Vic ~ Contemporary Styles
Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin ~Contemporary Styles

kangeroo-island-spirits-wild-gin

Kangaroo Island Spirits Wild Gin ~ Contemporary Styles
PLUS  Silver 2017 in Gin & Tonic category
Kangaroo Island Spirits Old Tom ~ Old Tom category
Kangaroo Island Spirits  Whisky Barrel Gin Silver Outstanding ~ Cask Finished

23rd Street Distillery Signature Gin, Adelaide, SA ~ Contemporary Styles

IWSC results

The Splendid Gin, TAS ~  Contemporary Styles

BRONZE MEDALS

Prohibition Bathtub Cut Gin ~ Wood Finished – 69%
PLUS Gold medal in Packaging

Bass & Flinders Gin 10 – Wild & Spicy ~ Contemporary Styles

Bass & Flinders Monsoon Gin ~ Contemporary Styles

Kalki Moon Premium Gin ~ London Dry
PLUS Bronze medal 2017 in Gin & Tonic category

Kangaroo Island Spirits O’ Gin~ Contemporary Styles

Ounce Gin ~ Contemporary Styles

Distillery Botanica Rather Royal Gin ~ London Dry
PLUS Bronze medal in Packaging category

Huge congratulations to all the medallists!

58 gin and tonic

58 Gin

While I didn’t manage to crack 8 distilleries in 7 days like I did during my 2015 trip, I was able to pop into a couple, including 58 Gin in Hackney, where I caught up with owner and Master Distiller, Mark Marmont.

58 gin
Mark Marmont

Originally from Australia, Mark settled in London after meeting his wife. He didn’t like gin back then, put off by his dislike of cardamom and star anise which he found in many of the gins he tried. He started to take an interest in the London cocktail scene and as he learned more about gin from his bartender friends, decided to develop his own gin.

Mark opened the 58 gin distillery on Australia Day 2014, fitting for the former dive master and boat skipper from Sydney. Nestled under the railway arches in Hackney, the distillery is a tiny space filled with alembic stills in a variety of sizes. I was struck by the tidiness (I’ve been to A LOT of distilleries that could learn a thing or two) and Mark proudly showed off all the carefully designed hidden storage space that keeps the distillery in order.

58 Gin Branding created by celebrated tattoo artist and designer Mo Coppoletta.

Why 58 gin? Fortunately, this isn’t a reference to the number of botanicals, but is the number on the door of Mark’s house. The angel wings on the label represent Angel, the London borough where Mark lives.

Distillation

Mark follows a traditional (one-shot) method of producing his gin.  The botanicals are steeped over night and distilled very slowly to get the maximum flavour from the ingredients. It’s a painstaking process and only 90 bottles are produced at a time.

58 gin
One of two alembic pot stills used to make 58 gin
58 gin
I’d love to know why distillers name their stills, but Mark has dutifully named all of his.

58 Gin Botanicals

Mark, like many distillers, initially experimented at his kitchen bench, playing around with different ingredients and refining his recipe. At one point he told me he had 30 different botanicals on the go and in his words “it was ridiculous! I couldn’t find any balance”. After paring everything back to the basics he settled on nine; juniper, coriander seeds, orris root, angelica, cubeb pepper, Sicilian lemon, pink grapefruit, bergamot and bourbon vanilla.

Tasting 58 Gin

Juniper and grapefruit notes are really clear on the nose. On the palate, it totally hits the mark with good juniper flavour and delicious citrus notes from the grapefruit and bergamot. There is a little lingering pepperiness from the cubeb and a merest hint of vanilla that thankfully doesn’t overpower. It’s a full-bodied gin with a smooth, round finish. So tasty!

Drinking 58 Gin

With lots of juniper and citrus, 58 gin is a natural winner in a G&T, but savoury enough to enjoy in a martini. Mark’s preference is in a Gibson (silverskin onions are always available in the distillery fridge) and I tend to agree!

Gibson martini 58 gin

While 58 Gin isn’t available to buy in Australia at the moment, it can’t surely be long before we welcome this delightful gin. I’ve already started nagging Mark about Junipalooza Melbourne next year!

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 43%

Price: Medium

You can follow 58 gin on Facebook, instagram and twitter

Patient Wolf Gin

Patient Wolf Gin

“A gentleman is simply a patient wolf “~ Lana Turner

Lana’s quote is an apt one for Dave and Matt at Patient Wolf gin. Plenty is required when setting up a distillery. Like many before them it took the team almost three years to set up in Brunswick, Melbourne. Finally in October last year they welcomed Sebastian Mueller, 4th Generation still maker, to Melbourne to help them build their stunning Mueller still and what a beauty she is!

Patient Wolf Gin
Patient Wolf Gin Still

Matt and Dave then had the tricky task of taking the recipe they had created on their tiny desk-top still and making it work on the full-size one. Not an easy feat as many distillers will tell you. The team spent hours with several of Melbourne’s top bartenders like Trish Brew at Gin Palace and Seb Costello at Bad Frankie sharing their test batches and looking for feedback. They were finally happy with the recipe in December and launched Batch 1 on crowd funding site, Pozible.

Matt Argus and Dave Irwin from Patient Wolf Gin

The botanicals

The gin features both native and traditional botanicals. Steeped overnight and distilled in the pot are juniper berries, coriander seeds, orris root, angelica root, cardamom, cubeb pepper and the interesting (and extremely expensive) tonka bean. Tonka bean is a relatively recent inclusion in gins, but it’s long been used as a replacement for vanilla, in perfumes and tobacco. Fresh local organic ruby grapefruit, fresh organic oranges and aniseed myrtle (from northern NSW) are vapour infused in the botanical basket. Dave found the aniseed myrtle too overpowering to use directly in the pot still!

Patient Wolf Gin
Tonka Bean. (Image via Hidden Souk)

Tasting Patient Wolf gin

I was fortunate to taste some of Matt and Dave “gins in progress” while they were refining the recipe and it’s exciting to see how far they have come from the initial batches. I recently received Batch No. 5 to taste and trial.

On the nose Patient Wolf has hints of citrus, light vanilla and earthy/musky notes. To taste, citrus starts us off before moving into floral, earthy notes with a faint touch of parma violet (I’m guessing from the orris root and angelica) followed by a lengthy spicy finish. It has a wonderfully smooth feel on the mouth.

Drinking Patient Wolf gin

patient wolf gin
Patient Wolf gin Negroni

Patient Wolf makes a fine gin and tonic, not as juniper forward as I like, but delicious with a wedge of ruby grapefruit as per their recommendation. For martini lovers, I’d try it in a wet rather than a dry. Where Patient Wolf really stood out for me was in a Negroni. The musky, earthy notes provide a good backbone against the sweetness of the vermouth and bitterness of the Campari.

Patience has certainly paid off for Dave and Matt. Producing a quality gin is not as easy as you’d think! Patient Wolf was a worthy recipient of a Silver Medal at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards in 2017 and I’m looking forward to watching what the team does next.

Country of Origin: Australia

Price: Medium

You can follow Patient Wolf gin on Facebook, instagram and twitter.

East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

I’m about to head off to the UK for some more ginanagins in the lead up to Junipalooza. Finalising my itinerary I’m reminiscing about my visit two years ago when one of the (many) distilleries I visited was East London Liquor Company, the first vodka, gin and whisky distillery in that part of London for 100 years.

Part of founder Alex Wolpert and distiller Tom Hill’s  mission was to create a gin that was accessible in terms of price without compromising on flavour. They achieved this with their first expression that I reviewed here.

East London Liquor Company Dry Gin and Tonic
East London Liquor Company Dry Gin and Tonic

Like most distillers, it wasn’t long before Tom was itching to create another gin. Distillers are wont to do that. In spite of producing something spectacular, the love of playing (sorry distilling) with all sorts of ingredients is part of the magic of gin production. The possibilities are endless.

East London Liquor Company Premium Gin

Not content with producing one, Tom ended up producing two and I was thrilled to learn that East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No. 2 is now available in Australia.

East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2 Botanicals

Looking at the list of botanicals used in Batch No. 2 my mind immediately leapt to an image of a traditional english herb garden. Juniper, coriander seed, orris root, angelica, and lemon peel are all familiar ingredients in gin. However, the addition of winter savoury, fennel seeds, sage, bay leaf and lavender adds a herbaceous dimension to this complex gin.

Tasting East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

On the nose the herbs come through, particularly the thyme and fennel. To taste, initially there are bright citrus notes that develop into delicious, almost chewy herbal flavours with sage and bay leaf most evident. There is a subtle hint of lavender before a lengthy finish rounded our with white pepper. The bold flavours are supported by a 47% ABV but this is still a smooth, sippable gin.

Drinking East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

Garnished with thyme and lemon, Batch No. 2 makes a solid gin and tonic. As a lover of savoury gins (think West Winds Cutlass and Gin Mare) this gin stands out as a perfect martini gin. Try it wetter (with more vermouth) to encourage those herbaceous notes to come to the fore. I was also inspired to try it in Ryan Magarian’s The Lady Sage Cocktail.

Lady-Sage-Cocktail-Glass

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 47%

Price: Medium

For information about Australian stockist contact Savant Spirits.

Manly Spirits Gin

Manly Spirits Gin

Manly Spirits gin comes, unsurprisingly, from Manly Beach in New South Wales. Owners David and Vanessa, first floated the idea of opening their own distillery in 2015 during a visit to Tasmania. David has a background in chemical engineering and Vanessa’s is in marketing and design (more on that later), so a pretty useful combination!

Two years later they welcomed Tim Stones (former Global Brand Ambassador for Beefeater Gin) as Head Distiller and Production Manager and launched their Pozible campaign. During his time at Beefeater, Tim learnt from Desmond Payne, (the longest-serving distiller in the world) and Sean Harrison, Master Distiller at Plymouth Gin as well as studying for his General Certificate in Distilling and completing hands-on training with the teams both in London and Scotland.

Manly Spirits gin still
Manly Spirits gin Holstein still

David and Vanessa are Manly locals with a deep connection to the area, in particular to the sea (both are keen swimmers, divers and surf lifesavers). The team approached established forager Elijah Holland (who worked with renowned chef René Redzepi at the Noma pop-up in Sydney last year) to assist in selecting botanicals for the gin.

Elijah recommended sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca) which clings to rocks and can be readily harvested at low tide (it’s the only seaweed that can be harvested freely, everything else has to be foraged under license).

Manly Spirits Gin
Sea Lettuce (image courtesy of Kirsten Bradley @milkwood.net)

Manly Spirits Gin Botanicals

Aside from the sea lettuce, Manly Spirits Gin contains; juniper, angelica root, coriander seed, orris root, orange peel, cardamom, finger lime, aniseed myrtle, and mountain pepper leaf. Tim says he found working with Australian botanicals challenging, but “inspiring”.

Tasting Notes

On the nose Manly Spirits gin has bright citrus notes, delicate pine aromas juniper and the merest hint of ozone. Tasting it, the citrus comes through as well as fresh pine. It has a savoury characteristic, not quite umami but getting there, and rounds out with a white peppery finish. Well balanced, delicious flavours and a good length, Manly Spirits Gin is a quality spirit that will serve you well in a variety of drinks.

Manly Spirits Gin
Manly Spirits gin martini. Made with Dolin vermouth and served with a twist of lemon.

How wonderful does this martini look? You’ll be pleased to know that it tasted just as good. A cracker in my opinion. Bright citrus flavours and aromas are drawn out by the vermouth and  a good peppery finish.

Aside from being a delightful gin, I must mention the attention to detail that has gone into the packaging of Manly Spirits Gin. In an increasingly crowded gin market, standing out from the other brands on the shelf is as important as making a tasty liquid. Vanessa’s design skills are apparent in the custom-made bottle. The fibonacci sequence pattern  gave her inspiration for the textured base and represents balance and perfection in nature, the blue glass is a nod to her connection to the sea and the eye-catching lid features the Eastern blue devil fish, the Manly Spirits emblem. 

Manly Spirits Gin
The lid of the Manly Spirits gin bottle.

Manly Spirits Gin

ABV: 42%

Price Medium

Follow Manly Spirits Distillery on Facebook, instagram and twitter.

You can also visit their cellar door.

Australian Gins win big in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017

Australian gin distillers have once again performed well against stiff global competition at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. I am so proud of our Australian gin distilling industry and the recognition they are receiving on the international stage.

2017 Entries

The number of gins entered into the competition increased to 268 entries in 2017  from 197 in 2016 (not including flavoured or aged gins).

This year Australian gins won 2 Double Golds (up from 1 in 2016), 4 Golds (down from 7 in 2016), 11 Silver (same as 2016) and 8 Bronze (up 1 from 2016). That means a total of 26 medals (the same overall result as in 2016).

The state with the most medals was Victoria (7), followed by South Australia and New South Wales (6 each), Tasmania and Western Australia (3 ) and Queensland with one medal.

This is an amazing achievement for our fledgling industry. I can’t wait to see what they do in 2018.

Here are the results:

DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2017 (Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges.)

Poltergeist-Gin-Tasmania

Shene Estate Poltergeist Unfiltered (TAS)

www.shene.com.au

The West Winds Broadside (WA)

23rd Street Distillery Gin (SA)

GOLD MEDAL 2017 (an excellent product, meeting very high standards)

Melbourne Gin Company Dry gin (VIC)

www.melbournegincompany.com

Strawberry-Basil-Gin-Smash
Poor Toms Strawberry Basil Gin Smash

Poor Toms Gin (NSW)

www.poortomsgin.com.au

Brookie's gin

Brookie’s gin (NSW)

www.capebyrondistillery.com.au

Distillery Botanica Rather Royal Gin (NSW)

www.distillerybotanica.com

SILVER MEDAL 2016 (A finely crafted spirit, well above average.)

Applewood gin (SA)

Poltergeist True Spirit (TAS)

Archie Rose Signature Dry gin (NSW)

Four Pillars Navy Strength gin (VIC)

Bass & Flinders Monsoon gin (VIC)

Dobson’s gin (NSW)

Manly Spirits gin (NSW)

KIS O gin (SA)

Splendid gin (TAS)

Hippocampus gin (WA)

KIS Old Tom gin (SA)

Bronze (A well-crafted spirit that deserves recognition.)

The West Winds Captains Cut (WA)

Prohibition gin(SA)

Begin (VIC)

Bass & Flinders Soft & Smooth gin (VIC)

Botanic Australis gin (QLD)

Four Pillars Modern Australian gin (VIC)

KIS Wild gin (SA)

Patient Wolf gin(VIC)

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.

Red Hen Gin

Red Hen Gin

Red Hen Gin is made at the first urban distillery in Adelaide. Created by four school friends, Luke Page and brothers Michael, Anthony and Daniel Vallelonga, the gin is named after the train that they used to catch to school together.

Red Hen Gin
Red Hen train

The boys grew up in the gateway to the Barossa and they are all passionate about South Australian produce. The Vallelonga brothers have made their own wine with their Nonno (grandfather) from grapes they grew themselves, and together with Luke have also brewed beer as a fun side project. Since they began distilling they’ve uncovered some family connections with the booze industry in Australia. Both grandfathers were Publicans in Gawler, where they grew up, and Luke’s Great Aunt was the first woman to hold a Publican’s License in Australia.

It took the Red Hen team two and a half years to perfect their recipe while they battled through the council regulations and licensing requirements (a common theme that crops up regularly when chatting to distillers!). The time was obviously well spent with Red Hen Gin immediately winning a gold medal in the Contemporary Gin category at the 2017 Australian Distilled Spirit Awards, and it was also crowned Champion Small Batch Spirit in Australia!

Red Hen Gin

Botanicals

Made from grape based spirit from the heart of the Barossa valley, Red Hen gin is 100% vapor-infused in a 100-litre still. There are 15 botanicals, including juniper, coriander, orris root, licorice root and cassia bark. Although the team wanted to created a London dry style gin they have used some native ingredients like Muntrie berries which are indigenous to the South Australian coast and give off a sweet crab apple flavour. The inclusion of fresh celery leaf offers a herbaceous peppery note.

Red Hen Gin
Muntrie berries

Tasting Red Hen Gin

On the nose there are lime zest and sherbet aromas with fresh pine coming through from the juniper. Flavour-wise there is no mistaking Red Hen gin is citrus forward. There is a good juniper flavour and a subtle hint of apple. The finish is lengthy with a pleasant hit of white pepper cutting through the citrus.

Drinking Red Hen Gin

A good gin will work in a variety of drinks. Red Hen gin is excellent in a gin and tonic and I highly recommend it in a dry martini with Maidenii dry vermouth.

Red Hen Gin
Red Hen Martini

The team is planning to create a Navy Strength Gin next as well as a secret spiced rum. They are also collaborating with a local brewery to create the first locally distilled whisky.

You can follow Red Hen gin on Facebook and instagram.

Gin Gifts for Mum

Do you have a gin-loving Mumma?Are you organised for Mother’s Day yet? I’ve put together some top gin gifts for mum. And yes, some are COMPLETELY OVER THE TOP, but hey this woman gave birth to you!

Books

 

Gin Gifts for Mum

No one knows cocktails like Simon Difford and in this compendium of quirky happenings, anniversaries, birthdays and traditional events he has paired each one with an appropriate cocktail. You can celebrate everything from Mandela’s inauguration to aliens’ alleged arrival from outer space.

$22.90 from Booktopia*

 

Gin Gifts for Mum

Some of the best cocktails are the simplest (think of a Negroni). Kara Newman has collected 50 equal parts drinks in her book Shake, Stir, Sip.

$18.75 from Booktopia*

Jewellery

Martini necklace

 

Gin Gifts for Mum

It’s 12 o’clock somewhere in the world – so celebrates Aliita’s playful Martini necklace. Made from 9ct gold, it has a small emerald “olive” for glittering finish. Stunning!

$390 from mytheresa.com

Gin Gifts for Mum

Functional AND stylish, Cynthia Rowley’s flask bracelet holds approximately 90ml of booze. Also available in gold.

$225 (USD) from Cynthia Rowley

 

Gin Necklace

Tatty Devine Gilbert and George Gin Necklace

Tatty Devine’s celebrated Gilbert and George Gin necklace is perfect for the gin-lover in your life.

$45.00 from The Gin Queen
Gin brooch

Tatty Devine Gilbert & George Gin Brooch

The obvious benefit of the Tatty Devine Gilbert and George gin brooch is that it will assist those around your mum to easily identify her tipple of choice. Handy!

$15 from The Gin Queen

Barware

Ralph Lauren Preston Cocktail shaker

Gin Gifts for Mum

This cocktail shaker would make a stylish addition to any home bar!

$169 from David Jones

Silver Monkey Straw 

Gin Gifts for Mum

Sip in style with this cheeky monkey sterling silver straw from Tiffany. Super indulgent, but so gorgeous!

$705 Tiffany.com

Waterford Crystal Martini Glasses

Gin Gifts for Mum

You can’t go wrong with glassware as a gift and while I enjoy scouring flea markets and op shops for mine, there is something wonderful about splashing out on divine martini glasses.

Marquis Crosby Barware Martini Pair $140 (pair), from David Jones

Gin

Patient Wolf Gin

Gin Gifts for Mum

 

Melbourne’s newest gin is made in the heart of Brunswick on a gorgeous Muller still. Featuring Tonka bean as one of the botanicals, this is a tasty drop that mum will love!

$ 700ml $89.99 from Nicks Wine Merchants

Red Hen Gin

 

Gin Gifts for Mum

Red Hen Gin comes from the heart of Adelaide (the CBD!) and recently took our Gold in the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards AND Champion Small Batch Spirit.

$79.95  (700ml)from Red Hen Gin

Fragrance

Gin Gifts for Mum

Lubin Gin Fizz

Created in honour of Grace Kelly’s extraordinary beauty, and named after the cocktail inspired by the “American bars of Paris”, Gin Fizz is a fresh and flowery chypre with lemony top notes over an aldehyde and musky base.
$269.00 AUD (Eau de Toilette 100ml, available at David Jones)

 

All of the products listed above have been chosen by me because I think your mums would love them and not because I’m been paid to promote them. With the exception of items marked * which are affiliate links. You are not charged extra, but I receive a small commission on sales.

Celery Gin

Celery Gin

I first tasted Celery Gin at Tales of the Cocktail last year. The latest gin from Rutte Distillery was on the shortlist for ‘Best New Spirit of 2016’ and Master Distiller Myriam Hendrickx was kind enough to grant me an interview which you can read here.

As with most new gins, it can take a while to hit the Australian market and I did a fair bit of pestering to find out when it would get here!  I was fortunate enough to attend a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session last week with the Bacardi/DeKuyper team and enjoyed cocktails made with Celery Gin and Old Simon Genever created by Australian Bartender of the Year 2015, Lee Potter Cavanagh. That genever was a taste revelation and quite unlike other genevers that I’ve tasted and largely disliked.

Celery Gin
Celery Gin and Tonic garnished with celery leaf and a piece of apple.

Celery Gin came after DeKuyper acquired Rutte Distillery. They were looking for interesting flavours for their liqueur portfolio and Myriam pointed straight to the extensive Rutte archives where celery has been used as a botanical in Rutte genevers since the 1800s, and suggested using it to make a gin. The rest is history and the result has been a huge hit and put the smallest distillery in the Netherlands on the map.

Botanicals

Celery Gin

In fact, it’s the incredibly fragrant leaves of the celery plant that are used alongside juniper, coriander, angelica root, sweet orange peel and cardamom, rather than celery seeds or the celery stalks we all crunch in our salads.

Tasting Celery Gin

Sometimes when a gin hits the market and it has a dominant botanical, the balanced “gin” flavour is lost. Fortunately, this is far from the case with Celery gin.

On the nose you get the familiar gin aromas; juniper, coriander and angelica.

If you are expecting this gin to taste of celery stalks, you’re in for a surprise as while celery notes are present, it’s not in your face. There is lots of piney juniper and citrus with fresh notes of celery leaves. The flavour then builds with more herbaceous celery, some orange giving a subtle sweetness and ending with bold white pepper notes. The finish is mouth-watering and lengthy.

Drinking Celery Gin

Celery Gimlet
Celery Gin Gimlet
KT Collins
KT Collins

The herbaceous freshness of celery works well with gin, especially in savoury cocktails. Of course, a really excellent gin is super versatile. While Celery gin is a natural choice well in the celery forward cocktails I’ve shown above, it’s also excellent in a martini, It’s also creates an outstanding Red Snapper.

Red Snapper
Red Snapper

Country of Origin: Holland

ABV: 43%

Price: Medium

 

Green Ant Gin

Green Ant Gin

At the last count (with Seb from Bad Frankie) there were 105 Australian gins on the market. I know for a fact there are more to come this year, and beyond. Such exciting times to be a gin lover in Australia!

I’m particularly intrigued by the increasing research into, and use of, native ingredients in some of these gins. This month, two gins launched that broadened the scope of native ingredients from plants to insects. Sacha LaForgia, from Adelaide Hills in South Australia, released his Green Ant gin followed swiftly by a gin of the same name from Applewood Distillery, also in South Australia.

Using ants as a gin botanical is not a new idea. Celebrated chef René Redzepi, owner of NOMA, launched Anty Gin in 2013. Formica rufa, the red wood ant, use chemical compounds to communicate with each other and defend themselves from predators. Redzepi’s discovered that these compounds are delicious when mixed with alcohol. Similarly, Bass & Flinders in Mornington launched their Angry Ant gin in 2016.

Why green ants?

Green Ant Gin
Green Ants.
(Copyright David Paul, University of Melbourne.)

I chatted to Sacha about his collaboration with Something Wild (who also supplied NOMA) and how he came to launch Green Ant gin. One of the first things that became evident was the concern that native ingredients are often foraged from land owned by Indigenous communities without permission. Sacha explained “Richard (Gunner) from Something Wild was keen to work together in helping grow the business of the Motlop family of the Larrakia people, establish new opportunities, as well as help raise awareness of how native Australian ingredients are sourced.”

Early in 2016 Richard, who is best mates with Sacha’s business partner Toby, gave him some green ants to pass on to Sacha. Sacha admitted that with the expansion at Adelaide Hills, distilling ants wasn’t high on his list of priorities. When he finally got around to tasting a green ant he said he was blown away by the flavours “limey, coriander with herbaceous notes, I knew it was a perfect gin botanical”.

How do you distill ants?

Sacha is a fractional distiller meaning that each gin botanical is distilled individually before being blended together (Andrew Marks at Melbourne Gin Company also does this). Sacha’s gins are 100% vapour infused as he feels this best protects the delicate botanicals. When it came to distilling the green ants (which come frozen!), Sacha says he ran the still much more slowly to preserve the flavours.

Green Ant gin botanicals

Sacha created an entirely new gin recipe for this project. Alongside the green ants you’ll find native finger limes, pepper berry, lemon myrtle, strawberry gum, boobialla (native juniper), and juniper.

Flavour

In aid of research I fished one of the ants out of the bottle and ate it. Yes, I ate an ant, so you don’t have to! Lime flavours (a mix between citrus and kaffir lime) burst out of the ant followed by some herbaceous notes which come through when you are chewing. Surprisingly, eating an ant was not that bad. I’m not sure I’d do it on a regular basis, mind you.

Green Ant gin is a fresh, citrus forward gin with lots of green lime notes on the nose and palate. The botanical flavours and ‘zing’ from the ants definitely comes through and there is a hint of pepper to cut through the citrus. As with all of Sacha’s spirits, it’s of great quality, smooth with an excellent finish.

Green Ant gin
Green Ant Gin & Tonic, garnished with lemon and thyme.

The best part of the project is that a share of the profits on sales of Green Ant gin go back to the Larrakia people, so you can enjoy a tipple while supporting a great social enterprise! For more information on green ants, watch this video from ABC Landline.

Country of origin: Australia

ABV: 42%

To purchase Green Ant gin click here.