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:

Gin Palace 20th Birthday competition

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!

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!

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.

My first Tales of the Cocktail

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I returned from my first Tales of the Cocktail and some days it’s hard to believe I was really there. I packed so much in to the week, but there was so much more I could have done!

Why did I want to go?

Living in Australia we don’t always get to see many of the industry heavy hitters visiting that often. This was a great opportunity for me to catch up with lots of international people who I’d been dying to meet or interview as well as get some serious learning in at the seminars.

First impressions

I was planning to make it to Tales last year so had spent lots of time talking to friends who’d been and learning as much as I could about the event, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer scale of the event!

New Orleans

I didn’t see as much as I would have liked, but I fell in love with the architecture, the weather (aside from the humidity!), the bars and the vibe.

NOLA

The seminars

Most people think that Tales is one long party (and there is plenty of partying), but the seminar program is an incredibly important part of the week. Philip Duff, the Director of Education for Tales oversees the whole schedule and this year there were 84 sessions to choose from. These ranged from informal tastings to 2 hour seminars on anything from bar management, history, cocktails, cocktail trends, ingredients, culture, all with formidable panels eager to share their wisdom.

Bartending is not a stop-gap job while you make up your mind what you really want to do. It’s a career worth investing in and hundreds of bartenders save up all year to attend these seminars and learn from the best.

It simply wasn’t possible for me to attend every single one, but the ones I did attend were fantastic. My highlights were:

A Great British Discussion on Gin with Ian Griffiths (Dandelyan/White Lyan), Dave Broom (celebrated author of the Gin Manual) and Duncan Macrae (Hendrick’s Global Brand Ambassador)

broomgriffithsmcrae

A lovely informal chat over some delicious Hendrick’s cocktails and plenty of opportunities to ask questions about where the gin boom is heading.

Big Gin Small Gin, The Producers talk with Allen Katz (New York Distilling Company), Mikey Enright (The Barber shop Sydney), Jake F Burger (Portobello Road Gin), and Ivano Tonutti (Master of Botanicals at Bombay Sapphire).

bigginsmallginpanel

It was really interesting to hear from such a wide variety of distillers. The similarities regardless of scale was illuminating. This seminar will run again (with a different panel) as part of Sydney Bar week.

Why do Cocktail Cultures Develop or Don’t with Mikey Enright, Audrey Fort and George Nemec.

Bespoke Gin & Collaborative Distilling with Cameron Mackenzie from Four Pillars and Emile and Olivier from Gin Foundry.

camemileolivier

A great seminar showing all the different ways people are involved in distilling, often without owning a distillery themselves. You can read the seminar here.

Juniper Ascending Parts 2& 3 with Jared Brown (Sipsmith), Desmond Payne (Beefeater), Simon Ford (Fords Gin), Alexandre Gabriel (Citadelle Gin), Arne Hillesland (Distillery 209) and Christian Krogstad (Aviation Gin)

Juniper Ascending was actually a 3 part seminar that ran most of the day. Moderated by Keli River from Whitechapel in San Francisco it was a fascinating journey through the history of gin.

500 years of Juniper Distillation – How Genever changed the way we are drinking today presented by Rutte Distillers with Myriam Hendrickx (Master Distiller), Keli Rivers (Whitechapel San Francisco), Joaquin Simo (Pouring Ribbons NYC) and moderated by Simon Difford (Difford’s Guide).

Genever from 1700 specially created by the distiller for the event.
Genever from 1700 specially created by the distiller for the event.

I wasn’t a fan of Genever until this seminar, having experienced a style made with more malt than botanicals. While not converted away from gin, I gained a better understanding and a new appreciation.

The Bars

New Orleans is home to some of the most famous cocktails. The Sazerac, The Ramos Gin Fizz, The French 75, Hurricane, Grasshopper, Vieux Carre and more were all invented in New Orleans so I had to visit The Roosevelt for a Ramos Gin Fizz and Arnauld’s French 75 Bar for a French 75 didn’t I?

French 75 Bar
French 75 Bar (image via Arnauld’s)

 

A French 75 at the French 75 (made the house way, with cognac!)
A French 75 at the French 75 (made the house way, with cognac!)

My first Ramos Gin Fizz had to be at the bar where it was invented yes?

Other highlights included a delightful Dante New York pop-up, Alibi (if you are ever lost at Tales, head here as this is where everyone ends up), and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar  – do what I did and sing yourself hoarse around the piano with your buddies.

Dante New York Pop-up
Dante New York Pop-up

The parties

There are parties galore all week and if you are lucky enough to score invitations, GO! I was lucky to receive lots of invites, but you have to see Tales as a marathon, not a sprint, so I picked two, the William Grant ‘Party on your Palate’ and the Bacardi Block Party. Both epic. The 200 voice gospel choir at William Grant gave me goosebumps while the sheer scale (a different ‘house’ for each brand) of the Bacardi party blew my mind.

William Grant 'Party on your Palate'
William Grant ‘Party on your Palate’ (image via @blindleadingblind on instagram)

 

Bacardi Block Party
Bacardi Block Party

 

Cedar smoked Bombay Sapphire Negroni at the Bacardi Block Party.
Cedar smoked Bombay Sapphire Negroni at the Bacardi Block Party.

The People

The sense of community around the world of bartending and hospitality is like no other. And nowhere did I feel this so keenly as I did at Tales. Thousands of the industry’s finest; bartenders, distillers, brand ambassadors, brand owners and media descend on New Orleans and it feels like the friendliest place on earth. It’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends from all over the world, share ideas and sometimes even come up with ideas to work together.

Even though everyone is on a hectic schedule, people still made time for me. I was thrilled to be able to meet and interview Desmond Payne (Master Distiller Beefeater Gin), Charlotte Voisey (Head of Advocacy at William Grant and Son), Simon Ford (Fords Gin), and Myriam Hendrickx (Master Distiller at Rutte).

I also got to spend time with some of my favourite Aussie bar people on the same side of the bar for a change!

Meeting Dave Broom
Meeting Dave Broom
Meeting Desmond Payne, Master Distiller, Beefeater Gin
Meeting Desmond Payne, Master Distiller, Beefeater Gin
ericandjack
Two of my favorites Erik Lorenz, American Bar at the Savoy and our own Jack Sotti, Boilermaker House, Melbourne.

 

The motley Australian crew
The motley Australian crew (you have no idea how hard it was to make them stay still)

Where to stay

I stayed at the Hotel Monteleone which is where all the Tales of the Cocktail action happens. It is slap bang in the middle of the French quarter and The Carousel bar (yes the bar rotates) is another one of the places most people hang out.

The staff are excellent and really friendly, but if you prefer something a little hectic (the elevators get crazy busy during peak seminar times) then the Royal Sonesta is close by and less frantic. I also went to the newly opened Ace Hotel for a couple of meetings, it’s a little bit further away from the main Tales of the Cocktail action and super-chilled.

Things I’ll do differently next year (if I’m lucky enough to go again!)

Make it out of the French Quarter and take a swamp tour and a river cruise

Visit more restaurants

Get to Erin Rose for a Frozen Irish coffee…

Spend a whole afternoon at Bacchanal

Remember to ask for photos when interviewing someone!

IWSC

Australian Gins awarded medals at the IWSC

The prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) has announced the 2016 medal winners, and while several Australian gins have followed up their success in San Francisco, disappointingly none were awarded Gold medals this year.

What is the IWSC

The International Wine & Spirit Competition was founded by wine chemist Anton Massel as ‘Club Oenologique’ in 1969. Massel wanted to create a wine and spirit competition which relied not just on the palates of judges, but also by putting the entries through chemical analysis. The name was changed to the ‘International Wine & Spirit Competition’ in 1978.

The original aim of the Competition was to award excellence to wines and spirits worldwide and this aim remains the same today, with entries received from almost 90 countries.

The Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions and has a dedicated tasting premises and over 400 global experts judging products for 7 months of the year.

Australian Gins awarded medals at the IWSC

Best Packaging Design Range Of The Year 2016

Archie Rose (NSW)

Archie-Rose-Distillery-Signature-Dry-Gin

Silver Outstanding – Contemporary Gins (Australia)

Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin (NSW) ( Also awarded a Silver in the Gin and Tonic category)

Botanic Australis (QLD)

Botanic-Australis-Gin
Botanic Australis Gin

Silver – Contemporary Gins (Australia)

Four-Pillars-Distillery-exterior

Four Pillars Rare Dry

Four Pillars Modern Australian

Four Pillars Spiced Negroni

Botanic Australis Navy Strength

Botanic Australis Navy Strength Gin and Tonic
Botanic Australis Navy Strength Gin and Tonic

Distillery Botanica (NSW) (Also a Gold Medal awarded in the Best Packaging category)

Distillery-Botanica_gin
Distillery Botanica

Bronze – Contemporary Gins (Australia)

Hobart No. 4 (TAS)

Noble Cut (NSW)

For more information on the IWSC visit their website here.

Australian Gins triumph at San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Australian gin distillers have been busy creating delicious spirits for some time now and the results of last week’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition highlight the recognition they are getting on the global stage. Here’s some more information on the awards and the medal winners.

What is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition?

Launched in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) 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.

The 2016 panel was made up of 39 industry experts including David Wondrich, Julie Reiner, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Dale DeGroff and Charlotte Voisey.

2016 Entries

The number of gins entered into the competition increased from 136 entries in 2015 to 197 in 2016.

Award Levels

San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2016 medals

Double Gold: Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges.

Gold: An excellent product, meeting very high standards.

Silver: A finely crafted spirit, well above average.

Bronze: A well-crafted spirit that deserves recognition.

DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2016

Four Pillars Gin

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin (VIC)

www.fourpillarsgin.com.au

GOLD MEDAL 2016

Archie-Rose-Distillery-Signature-Dry-Gin

Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin (NSW)

www.archierose.com.au

 

Distillery-Botanica_gin

Distillery Botanica Garden Grown Gin (NSW)

www.distillerybotanica.com

Hippocampus Gin

Hippocampus Gin (WA)

www.hippocampusmd.com.au

Poltergeist-Gin-Tasmania

Shene Estate Poltergeist Unfiltered (TAS)

www.shene.com.au

mchenry-navy-strength

McHenry Distillery Navy Strength (TAS)

www.mchenrydistillery.com.au

CutlasswCocktail1-2

The West Winds Cutlass (WA)

www.thewestwindsgin.com

78-degrees-gin-adelaide-hills

78 Degrees (SA)

SILVER MEDAL 2016

Bass & Flinders Angry Ant Gin (VIC)

Bass & Flinders Fleur de Lys (VIC)

Distillery Botanica Moore’s Vintage Gin (NSW)

Dobson’s Sumac Gin (NSW)

Four Pillars Modern Australian Gin (VIC)

Four Pillars Gunpowder Proof Gin (VIC)

Ironbark Disitllery Dry Gin (NSW)

Shene Estate Poltergeist True Spirit (TAS)

Poor Toms Gin (NSW)

The West Winds Sabre (WA)

The West Winds Broadside (WA)

Bronze

Bass & Flinders Soft and Smooth Gin (VIC)

Mt Uncle Distillery Botanic Australis (QLD)

Four Pillars Barrel-Aged Gin (VIC)

Sullivan’s Cove Hobart No. 4 (TAS)

McHenry Distillery Barrel-Aged Gin (TAS)

Young Henry’s Noble Cut (NSW)

Ironbark Disitllery Wattlseed Gin (NSW)

I’ll be featuring many of these award-winning gins in the Humble Tumbler Australian Gin Masterclasses this year. For more information and to book tickets click here.

Gin 1495

When I heard about the Gin 1495 project last year I was intrigued. Juniper has been used in medicine and drinks since the 13th century, but no recipes had been recorded. The discovery of a recipe from 1495 was extremely exciting, but there was talk of limited bottles and only a few people in the world being offered a taste. I crossed my fingers and hoped that a bottle would wing its way to Australia and that I might have an opportunity to taste a little history. Thanks to my friends at G’Vine gin an invitation found its way to me.

The Gin 1495 tasting event was held at Juniper Hall, one of the oldest buildings in Sydney and home to a former English distiller, Robert Cooper, who had been transported to Australia as a convict!

Only 40 guests were invited along to hear Philip Duffy, drinks historian and gin expert, talk us through this extraordinary venture.

Phil first came across the reference to a gin recipe in an out of print book on Jenever. His interest piqued, he began investigating its origin and discovered that the text came from a 1495 cookbook from a merchant’s house in East Netherlands and was part of a collection of Sir Hans Sloane (founder of the British Museum) and that the collection was housed in the British Library.

What do you do when you discover an ancient recipe? Well, in Philip’s case you gather some of the foremost drinks historians: David Wondrich, Gaz Regan and Dave Broom together with Jean-Sébastien Robicquet (owner and founder of Eurowinegate and G’vine gin creator) and recreate it.

The botanicals listed in the recipe were nutmeg (at that time was worth more than its weight in gold), ginger, galangal (similar to ginger), grains of paradise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, sage, and juniper.  The recipe states to use one part botanicals to nine parts wine distillate.

Wine was used as the base as opposed to grain spirit because it was easier to come by. It’s worth remembering that this predates the East India Company being founded, so these spices would have been brought across the silk route, probably by a lone merchant.

Two versions of gin were created from the recipe Verbatim is the exact recipe, while Interpretatio is the same recipe but with the inclusion of some of the more familiar gin botanicals used today that were unavailable then.

1495gin

Verbatim (42% ABV)

On tasting this screamed “NUTMEG”. It was bold and herbaceous and very spicy. I felt warmed to my toes. One can only imagine the response when the merchant brought this out for his dinner guests. It would have tasted like nothing they had ever tasted before!

Interpretatio (45% ABV)

This version was made with more juniper, citrus and some angelica root. The resulting liquid is very different to Verbatim and more familiar as a gin, with the juniper more noticeable. It’s fresher, but still with herb and spice notes evident.

Only 100 sets of the gins have been produced. They will not be on general sale, but instead have been  donated to various museums, spirits collections, archives, and gin institutions around the world. Some of them will also be auctioned off for charity.

Philip Duff and I with the two gins and a reproduction of the recipe manuscript
Philip Duff and I with the two gins and a reproduction of the recipe manuscript

It was an experience of a lifetime to taste something so unique and I love that this passion project is such an altruistic one.

In Australia the auction will be raising funds for Wine to Water a A movement dedicated to providing clean water and sanitation to people in need around the world.

If you would like to make a bid to become one of the owners for these rare gins, you can do so here (auction closes on Friday Jul 31st, 7:30pm AEST)

For more information on Gin 1495 click here.