the gin queen's guide to australian gin botanicals

The Gin Queen’s Guide to Australian Gin Botanicals

One of the most exciting aspects of the current gin boom is how distillers are seeking out new flavours by using locally sourced ingredients. Australia is at the forefront of pushing the flavour boundaries by the use of native plants and herbs to give a distinct terroir to their gins.

Many of the ingredients appearing in Australian gins have been used as “bush foods” by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years, indeed many of you may already use some of these already.

As I’m from the UK, I hadn’t heard of many of these ingredients before I started The Gin Queen. After getting a few questions during masterclasses, I put together this guide. There is a little information about each botanical, the region where it originates and the gins that feature it as an ingredient.

Inspired by my UK friends, Gin Foundry (and my partners in Junipalooza Melbourne), I’ve had a go at putting together a flavour-wheel for the botanicals too. Let me know your thoughts!

australian gin botanicals

I’m still learning and researching, and will continue to update the list.

The Gin Queen’s Guide to Australian Gin Botanicals

Anise or Aniseed Myrtle

anise myrtle

The leaves impart liquorice and aniseed flavours.

Regions: predominantly in the Nambucca and Bellinger Valleys in the subtropics of New South Wales

Used inBotanic Australis, Loch Brewery & Distillery “The Weaver”gin

Bunya Nut

Bunya Nut cone
Bunya Nut cone

Native to south-eastern Queensland,  The bunya nut tree only bears a crop only after the tree is around 100 years old, and then it crops once every 2 or 3 years. The large cones contain the edible nuts (seeds) which are encased in a shell. The nut resembles a chestnut in looks and flavour.

Regions: Queensland

Used in: Botanic Australis

Bush Tomato

bushtomato
Bush tomato

They taste a little like sun-dried tomato. Closely related to the aubergine.

Regions: Central Australia

Used in: West Winds Cutlass

Cinnamon Myrtle

Used where cinnamon would normally be called for.

Regions: New South Wales, Queensland

Used in: Botanic Australis, Loch Brewery & Distillery “The Weaver” gin

Dorrigo pepper

Dorrigo pepper
Dorrigo pepper

Offering cinnamon and pepper notes, the Dorrigo pepper leaf has only been used in cooking since the mid-1980s.

Regions: Northern Tablelands of New South Wales

Used in: Archie Rose Signature Gin

Eucalyptus

eucalyptus

Synonymous with Australia, Eucalyptus has a strong, astringent aroma and flavour that needs to be managed carefully during distillation.

Regions: All over Australia (only 15 species occur outside Aus.)

Used in: Botanic Australis

Finger Limes

finger limes
Finger limes (image from the Lime Caviar Company)

Also known as citrus caviar, finger limes are used in Australian and Asian cooking, offering a fresh burst of citrus flavour.

Regions: Queensland

Used in: Stone Pine Dry gin, Four Pillars Gunpowder Proof gin

Lemon Myrtle

lemonmyrtle

Known as the Queen of the lemon herbs, lemon myrtle has the highest level of the compound Citral (more even than lemongrass) that gives gin a lemon aroma and flavour.

Regions: Queensland

Used in: Four Pillars Rare Dry gin, Ink gin, West Winds Sabre, 1827 Wild Swan gin, Brocken Spectre, Poltergeist, Stone Pine Dry gin

Lemon Scented Gum

A strongly fragranced tree that smells like citronella with a slight lemon aroma.

Regions: Queensland

Used in: Botanic Australis

Lilly Pilly/Riberry

lillypilly

The Lilly Pilly/Riberry have a tart cranberry-like flavour

Regions: Eastern Australia

Used in: Lilly Pilly gin

Macadamia Nut

Macadamia Nut
Macadamia Nut (image from www.crackingmacadamias.com.au)

Macadamia have a delicate, buttery flavour.

Regions: North Eastern New South Wales, Central & Southern Queensland

Used in: Melbourne Gin Company, Poltergeist gin

Meen (Bloodroot)

Meen (bloodroot)
Meen/Bloodroot (image: Science Network WA)

A relative of the kangaroo paw Meen has a hot and spicy flavour.

Regions: Western Australia

Used in: Great Southern Distillery gin

Murraya

Murraya-Paniculata
Murraya Paniculata

Beautiful white petalled flower that gives off the scent of jasmine.

Regions: Far North Queensland, Northern Territory and North Western Australia,

Used in: Distillery Botanica Garden Gin

Native Ginger

native-ginger
Freshly foraged Native ginger

Regions: Queensland

Used in: Botanic Australis

Peppermint Gum

Highly aromatic with a peppermint fragrance and flavour.

Regions: South Eastern Australia

Used in: Botanic Australis

River mint

river mint
(Image John Broomfield, Museums Victoria)

A subtle herb with the taste and aroma of spearmint. Indigenous Australians also used this herb for medicinal purposes.

Regions: The Murray Darling river basin (Eastern Australia)

Used in: Botanic Australis, Archie Rose Signature Gin

Sandalwood

A distinctive warm fragrance, sandalwood is highly prized, particularly the oil.

Melbourne Gin Company Dry Gin

Andrew from Melbourne Gin Company sources his sandalwood from Western Australian, foraged with permission from the Indigenous land owners. He uses the wood and the roots, which is where the sandalwood oil is more highly concentrated.

Regions: Western Australia.

Used in: Melbourne Gin Company

Strawberry Gum

Also known as Eucalyptus Olida, Strawberry gum has a fruity flavour with a hint of cinnamon and often appears in fruit teas.

Strawberry-Gum-Leaf
Strawberry Gum Leaf

Regions: Northern Tablelands of New South Wales

Used in: Poor Toms gin, Brocken Spectre

Tasmania Mountain Pepperberry

pepperberry
Tasmania Pepperberry

Regions: Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales

Used in: Four Pillars Rare Dry gin, Lark Forty Spotted  gin, Ink gin, Poltergeist gin

Wattleseed

The Wattle flower is the national emblem of Australia. Wattle seeds have hard husks, and will last for up to 20 years in their natural environment, usually only germinating after bushfires. Roasted ground wattleseed has lots of culinary uses and a nutty/coffee aroma and flavour.

wattleseed gin
Wattleseed. ( Photograph: Mark Lucas @theguardian)

Regions: Australia-wide

Used in: Ironbark Distillery Wattleseed  gin, West Winds Sabre, Nonesuch Dry gin

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