Spirit competitions are many and varied, particularly in the gin arena, where distillers battle it out in an ever more saturated category. Whatever your views are on the merits of competitions, they are a welcome pat on the back for hardworking distillers, keen to see how their products stack up against other gins.
The Spirits Business Gin Masters 2018 revealed its results overnight and Australian distillers have done us proud. The results are particularly thrilling when you learn that the medal tally has quadrupled in the last 5 years, with quality becoming ever more important.
The gins were segmented into different sectors according to price and style, then blind-tasted by a panel of experts. Here are the Aussie medallists! For the full list of winners, head here.
The Melbourne Gin Company Single Shot gin ~ Master. Praised for “its excellent botanical recipe” and “good length”.
The Melbourne Gin Company Dry Gin ~ Gold
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin ~ Silver
Four Pillars Spiced Negroni ~ Master. Praise from the judges : “This is exactly the type of product I expect to get when the best distillers challenge what gin can be.”
Kangaroo Island Wild Gin ~ Silver
Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin ~ Silver
Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin ~Silver
Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength ~ Silver
Never Never Distilling Triple Juniper Gin ~ Gold. Praise from the judges: “juicy, well-integrated palate”
Never Never Distilling Co Southern Strength ~ Silver
Four Pillars Sherry Cask ~ Gold
Four Pillars Chardonnay Barrel Gin ~ Silver
Four Pillars Navy Strength ~ Master. Praise from the judges: “a masterclass in distilling “
Brookie’s Slow Gin ~ Silver
Kangaroo Island Spirits Old Tom Gin ~ Silver
Congratulations to all the distillers for their awards and raising the profile of our thriving industry on the global stage.
“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.” Bernard DeVoto
Happy World Martini Day! For me, martinis are hard to beat, however I hear from many of you that martinis are too strong or overpowering to become a regular in your gin cocktail repertoire.
There are so many different ways to try them, so I firmly believe there is a martini out there for everyone!
So here are 30 martinis you must try!
Champagne and gin? What’s not to love? Full recipe here.
Sloe Gin Martini
Sloe gin isn’t just for sipping over ice! Full recipe here.
Equal parts vermouth and gin, this is a perfect martini for the beginner! Full recipe here.
A popular drink from the 30’s and 40’s. Full recipe here.
007’s creation (we won’t talk about his preference for vodka martinis…). Full recipe here.
Named after the pre-war French singer, Yvonne Arnaud. Full recipe here
A little something for the whisky lovers. Full recipe here.
Gin and sherry? Si Si! Full recipe here.
Can Can Martini
A French flavour to this martini! Full recipe here.
Not all martinis need to be dry! Full recipe here.
All martinis are perfection. This one even more so! Full recipe here.
The dirtier the better. Full recipe here
Can’t handle them dry? Then go for a reverse or ‘wet’ martini. Full recipe here
My personal favourite. Full recipe here.
Earl Grey Gin Martini
More like a Mar-tea-ni. Full recipe here.
Gin for breakfast? Why not. Full recipe here.
Sake and gin go together so well! Full recipe here.
The garnish is a bonus! Full recipe here.
Ranked number three in “The World’s 10 Most Famous Cocktails in 1934”! Full recipe here
The Third Degree
Take your pick from a third or fourth (!) degree. Full recipe here.
A late 19th Century cocktail. Full recipe here.
Ada Coleman’s classic! Full recipe here.
The Savoy Cocktail book strikes again! Full recipe here.
A beautiful cocktail that Jim Meehan created for his bar PDT in New York. Full recipe here.
An Old Tom gin based martini. Full recipe here.
Sasha Petraske’s riff on a Gibson. Full recipe here.
A precursor to the dry martini. Full recipe here.
A delightful blend of gin, vermouth and maraschino liqueur. Full recipe here.
A classic from the Savoy Cocktail book. Full recipe here.
Don’t be scared of the absinthe, it’s delicious in this cocktail! Full recipe here.
Which one is your favourite?
If you are interested in the history of the martini, grab yourself a copy of Jared Brown’s book ‘Shaken Not Stirred, A celebration of the martini’
Join me for a special Distillers Dinner at Arc One Gallery, with food by Cumulus Inc. featuring five of Australia’s leading distillers.
Joining us will be; Cameron Mackenzie – Four Pillars Gin, Dr. Dervilla McGowan – Anther Spirits, Nicole Durdin – Seppeltsfield Road Distillers, Myffanwy Kernke – Shene Estate & Distillery and Tim Boast – Never Never Distillery.
They will each share their stories and introduce their gins before we enjoy it neat and in a cocktail matched with a delicious dish by Cumulus Inc., all in the beautiful surrounds of Arc One Gallery
Tickets are $155 and include 5 dishes, 5 gins and 5 cocktails.
Limited dietary requirements available.
Book now to avoid disappointment!
With thanks to our sponsors:
Haven’t made plans for World Gin Day yet? Don’t worry, I’ve got a couple of tickets for the Anther/Taxi Kitchen World Gin Day Botanical High Tea on Saturday 9th June for you to win!
Anther gin won the Champion Gin award at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards earlier this year. Their famous Cherry gin has recently been joined by ‘Habitat’, a gin made using botanicals grown in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.
Taxi Kitchen focusses on sustainable, locally sourced produce, with Executive Chef Tony Twitchett delivering contemporary Australian cuisine with a hint of Asian influence.
Taxi Kitchen & Anther Gin take you on a botanical journey through 5 continents over a 5 course lunch matched with 5 gin cocktails.
Anther gin/Taxi Kitchen World Gin Day Botanical High Tea (Saturday 9th June, 1-4pm), Federation Square Level 1, Melbourne1 pm – 4pm
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
TERMS & CONDITIONS
- Entrants with the correct answer will be drawn at random on Wednesday 6th June
- The winner will be notified via email on Thursday 7th June
- Tickets cannot be exchanged for cash. If you are unable to attend, another winner will be drawn.
- Open to over 18s only
With only 6 SLEEPS to go! Have you decided how to spend World Gin Day 2018? I’ve done a little round-up of some of the best gin-filled activities of you to enjoy!
Battle of the Regions!
The bar will be pitting some of Victoria’s best Gin regions against each other…
It’s YarraValley vs. MorningtonPeninsula vs. Melbourne vs. Mildura!
Rock up, try the four gins, select your favourite, and then vote! The overall winner will be crowned on Sunday!
Featuring four Victorian gins: Alchemy Distillers, Balcombe Gin, Patient Wolf Gin and Fossey’s Gin
No booking required
World Gin Day Botanical High Tea
1-4pm Taxi Kitchen, Melbourne
Taxi Kitchen & Anther Gin take you on a botanical journey through 5 continents over a 5 course lunch matched with 5 gin cocktails.
$95 per person.
Stayed glued to my social media feed tomorrow for a chance to win tickets!
Book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 9923 2065
High Tea Lunch
Three courses of twists on high tea and English classics, including sweet and savoury pastries, baked treats and other delectable morsels, all paired with gin and tea based cocktails. The cocktails will feature a handful of newly released gins, including the ever popular Bloody Shiraz gin from Four pillars, New World Projects’ (known for Starward whisky) Winter gin, and freshly released Nosferatu blood orange gin, plus Kangaroo Island Spirits ‘O’ gin and Sloe gin from Tasmanian distillers McHenry.
Surrealist Lunch with Hendrick’s gin.
Cocktails and canapés on arrival are followed by 3 courses with cocktails. Hosted by Hendricks’ Ambassador for Australia, Morgan Flanagan. Includes a special gift for guests!
$115 pp 12.30-3.00pm
Book tickets here
Rumble in the Monkey 47 Jungle
Union Electric Bar & Gin Rooftop in Melbourne’s CBD, we will be hosting a launch party for Monkey 47’s Gin Jungle Takeover!
With delicious Monkey 47 inspired cocktails, plus tastings of the good stuff in the afternoon, the festivities kick off from midday until late.
No booking required!
If I was in Sydney, I would spend World Gin Day here. With over 600 gins on the back bar, Owner Mikey Enright, and manager David Nguyen-Luu walking encyclopedias when it comes to gin.
At 2-3.30pm there is a 90 minute gin masterclass ~ $50pp. Includes Gin Tonica on arrival, oysters, charcuterie and cheese.
Then from 6pm it’s time to party!The team will be launching their new ‘Gin Tonica’ menu and holding a live auction of limited edition vintage 1970s Plymouth gin. Not to be missed!
Long Lunch at Osborne Hotel 12-4pm
Enjoy an intimate long lunch, where you will get to learn and drink bespoke cocktails created exclusively for the event whilst enjoying a four course degustation menu by Head Chef, Ben King.
The event will showcase a variety of gin from all over the world, featuring:
Australian: Four Pillars, Yarra Valley
English: Fords, London
United States: Death’s Door, Wisconsin
Sweden: Hernö, Härnösand
Book tickets here
My favourite bar to drink gin when I’m in town! Hairs & Co will be bracing the mainsail and serving up all manner of local gins. No booking fee, no tickets, just join in the fun.
Howling Owl will be hosting the mother of all gin activities with Flight Club!
Visit the Welcome Lounge (free entry) 4pm-LATE
Enjoy the new Howling Owl International Winter Cocktail Menu and a Happy Hour with 2 for 1 gin specials at 5 PM. The DJ starts the party at 7pm! Plus other fun activities like spin the wheel!
For something a little more refined, head to the Mezzanine Flight Deck:
4 PM – Book a seat in the Never Never Distilling Co. Lounge with Gin Cured Salmon & Gin Oyster Martini Shots for only $35
4 PM – Visit the International Martini Bar or pre-purchase The Euro, The UK or The Americas Pass with 3 Martinis curated till late for $45
6 PM – Enjoy a gin flight with Kangaroo Island Spirits founders Jon & Sarah Lark & sample 5 of their award-winning gins paired with Island Canapé Treats for $55
8 PM – Cruise at high altitude with an indulgent Gin & Chocolate pairing with Chocolatier Captain Steven Ter Horst for $40
Book tickets here
Tapas and Tonic
Held in Iberia’s underground gin lair, Sean Baxter from Never Never and Iberia’s own gin enthusiast, Jimmy R, will guide guests through five gin cocktails highlighting Never Never’s Triple Juniper gin. Iberia head chef, Rush Dougie, will curate the menu, matching each unique cocktail with his own brand of tapas.
Book tickets here.
Four Pillars Gin
The iconic Bloody Shiraz gin has just been released and if you haven’t tried it, you are missing out! Head out to the distillery and enjoy a paddle of Four Pillars gin and bring a bottle or two home!
Reed & Co Distillery, Bright
Rachel and Hamish Nugent have gathered some of their distilling buddies from around Australia for a special Meet the Maker event.
Tickets for each session are $30pp
More information here
Fossey’s gin, Mildura
Laneway festival with food, music and entertainment. Tickets are $50pp. Book here.
New South Wales
Poor Toms Gin School 12pm
Not Sunday School. GIN school.
An insiders guide to Poor Toms magical elixir. Includes a complimentary Poor Toms G&T, flight of Sydney Dry, Fool Strength and other mystery experiments, a $12 voucher for any bottle purchase
Book ticket here.
Book a Tour to Cape Byron Distillery
A guided tour through the Big Scrub Rainforest, learning the history of this magical place. On return to the distillery you’ll enjoy a gin tasting and have the opportunity to relax on the verandah overlooking a magnificent view.
Book tickets here.
At the very least this World Gin Day, make an effort to visit a local gin distillery or two. To see if there is one open in your area, have a look at my Australian Distillers Map!
You’ve probably seen many of our native gins sharing the news of their success at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards. As per the last 2 years, I’ve done a round-up for you, covering all the winners!
This year Australian gins won 5 Double Golds (up from 2 in 2017), 7 Golds (up from 4 in 2017), 21 Silver (up from 11 in 2017) and 15 Bronze (up 8 from 2017). A total of 48 medals (up from 26 in 2017).
The state with the most medals was Victoria (15), New South Wales (13), who just pipped South Australia (12 ), followed by Tasmania (5), Queensland (2) and ACT (1).
I don’t have the final number of gins entered but given the ongoing explosion of gin, I would imagine it has significantly increased from the 268 entries in 2017.
Awards are often disregarded as ‘marketing puff’ that many consumers ignore, so I spoke to a couple of distillers to discuss the impact of winning a medal at San Francisco.
Tim Stones, Manly Spirits (Double Gold) “I’m not massively pro-awards as there are so many about. However, I do see then benefit of using them to benchmark our products against other son the market. Winning a Double Gold is a hugely validating experience and completely vindicated my choice of career change.”
Sales Manager, Rob Sutherland, also reported a bigger uptake of their gininto venues.
Sean Baxter, Never Never Distilling Co. (Gold Medal) “The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the top global comp, the one we all care about. With 43 judges and an extremely high standard, it’s our chance to see how we stack up with the world’s best gins. A gold medal for us means recognition that our gin is up there with the best in the world.”
In addition, Sean told me they were flooded with emails from potential new stockists after the announcement.
Whatever your view on awards it obviously means a lot to the people making the gin and gives them a leg up in a highly competitive market.
Here are the 2018 results in full:
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2018 (Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges.)
Manly Spirits Co Australian Dry Gin (NSW)
Archie Rose Distillers Strength (NSW)
Dobson’s New England Dry Gin (NSW)
Poltergeist Gin (Unfiltered) (TAS)
Single Shot Gin, The Melbourne Gin Company (VIC)
GOLD MEDAL 2018 (an excellent product, meeting very high standards)
Triple Juniper Gin, Never Never Distilling Co. (SA)
Brookie’s gin (NSW)
Brookie’s Byron Slow Gin, Cape Byron (NSW)
Roots and Leaves Gin, Distillery Botanica (NSW)
Something Wild Green Ant Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery
Billy Goats Gin, Saleyards Distillery (QLD)
Prohibition gin (SA)
SILVER MEDAL 2016 (A finely crafted spirit, well above average.)
Coastal Citrus Gin, Manly Spirits (NSW)
Horisumi Summer Gin, Archie Rose(NSW)
Signature Dry Gin, Archie Rose(NSW)
Sweet Pea Gin, Dobson’s(NSW)
Whisky Barrel Aged Gin, Manly Spirits(NSW)
Barrel Aged Gin, Twenty Third Street (SA)
Signature Gin, Twenty Third Street (SA)
Bathtub Cut Gin, Prohibition (SA)
Yuzu Gin, Settlers Spirits (SA)
Gin, A True Spirit, Poltergeist (TAS)
Arboretum Gin, Animus (VIC)
Bartender Series Spiced Negroni Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)
Distiller Series Dry Island Gin, Four Pillars x Hernö (VIC)
Gin, BeGin (VIC)
Macedon Dry Gin, Animus (VIC)
Navy Strength Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)
Pink Gin, BeGin (VIC)
78° Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery (SA)
Dry Gin, Hippocampus (VIC)
Lady Susanne Gin, TerraAustralis Distillery (VIC)
Signature Gin, Underground Spirits (ACT)
Bronze (A well-crafted spirit that deserves recognition.)
What is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition?
Launched in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition is considered the most respected and influential spirits competition in the world, with a rigorous judging process involving highly controlled blind-tastings with an expert panel who only receive information on spirit type, ABV and age (where applicable) to remove bias.
A few weeks ago I managed to squeeze in a trip to Adelaide. South Australia is fast becoming the gin state, so I was excited to see a few of the new distilleries popping up. Top of my list was Ambleside Distillers, who opened in November 2017.
I’d recently met Steve, Trudy, Matt and Matt’s partner Bella, when I hosted the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. Their Small Acre gin had picked up a Silver medal, which they were naturally delighted about and I was keen to hear more about them.
Ambleside Distillers is a family business. Steve and Trudy’s son Matt was working in London just as Sipsmith opened in 2006. If you recall, Sipsmith was the first gin distillery to open in London for 200 years and played a huge part in the new gin renaissance. Seeing the response to the new wave of gins, when Matt returned to Australia he began discussing the idea of opening a distillery with his parents, where they lived in Hahndorf.
Although the weather was not kind (rain!), the distillery is in a beautiful location and Hahndorf is a major tourism centre, making it the perfect spot for a distillery to thrive. The distillery is on the main road into the town and Steve grinned and told me “If we don’t get you on the way in, we’ll get you as you leave!”. There was certainly plenty of interest when I visited. A steady stream of visitors began arriving immediately the doors opened.
The team have launched three gins, which might ambitious, but they just each made a gin that they really liked!
Trudy’s gin is the No. 8 Botanical, and is made with organic Riverland oranges, and Big Dry gin is Matt’s invention. Steve’s recipe is made with ingredients grown around the distillery, including apple, bay leaf and rhubarb. There is some healthy competition between the three, with Trudy saying, “Steve may have won a Silver medal, but mine sells the most!”
Like many distilleries in Australia (including Melbourne gin company, Ambleside Distillers have used grape based spirit from Tarac, while the still was commissioned from a company in Ballarat and is completely copper throughout. With the distillery industry growing, it’s wonderful to see traditional businesses like still-making, also receiving a boost.
All of the Ambleside gins are really tasty, however, my favourite of the three was the Big Dry gin made by Matt.
Big Dry Gin Botanicals
Aside from juniper berries, Matt has incorporated jalapeño peppers, kaffir lime leaf, thyme, rosemary, and coriander seed.
Tasting Big Dry Gin
Looking at the botanicals, you can guess that it will be savoury and herbaceous and it doesn’t disappoint. There is lots of juniper on the nose, with citrus from the coriander and kaffir lime also noticeable. The fresh, piney flavour develops into herbal notes , but it’s also fresh and grassy which I put down to the jalapeño pepper. Matt has skillfully captured the freshness of the pepper without the heat.
Drinking Big Dry Gin
Big Dry gin is perfect g&t material. Matt served it garnished with a slice of jalapeño and coffee beans, an absolutely delicious combination which I copied when I got home.
Mother’s Day is coming up in a few weeks, so I’m giving one lucky person the chance to win one of my Esa Evans gin necklaces to show that special woman how much you care!
All you have to do is complete the form below and in 50 words or less tell me why your mum/partner/wife/mother of your child needs this necklace.
THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED
A private gin bus will collect you from Federation Square in Melbourne and whisk you to Four Pillars distillery in Healesville. There, you’ll meet the distiller, Cameron Mackenzie, have a G&T, learn about (and sample!) their fantastic gins, and enjoy a light lunch before the gin bus departs.
But wait there’s more!
Instead of you ending your tour back at Federation Square, we’ll be off to Bad Frankie (the No. 1 bar for Australian spirits) for a mini martini.
The perfect way to round off our gin tour!
- Fully escorted tour hosted by Caroline Childerley, The Gin Queen!
- Transport from Federation Square to the distillery and back to Melbourne
- Meet the distiller
- Gin tasters
- G&T at the distillery
- Light lunch (limited dietary options available)
- Mini martini at Bad Frankie!
When are we going?
Saturday 24 April 2018
$120 will get you a spot on the tour.
Terms & Conditions
Attendees must be over 18.
No refunds or exchanges.
Please drink responsibly.
Usually when I’m writing for ‘gin of the week’, the gin is brand new, so it’s great to be able to revisit a gin that’s been established for a few years. Death’s Door gin has been available sporadically in Australia, but now it’s part of the Vanguard Luxury Brands portfolio, you can expect to see more of it.
There are only a handful of excellent American gins – Junipero and Aviation ( BEFORE Ryan bought it!!) being two of my favorites. The US remains firmly wedded to aged spirits and its corn/rye heritage which don’t always work as a base for the delicate botanicals used in gin. However, Death’s Door gin is an exception.
The story behind Death’s Door gin ticks all the sustainability and locality boxes, and did so way before it was fashionable. Historically, the Washington Island in Wisconsin had been known for potato farming, but the industry died out in the 1970s. Locals moved into tourism focussed industries or left the island altogether.
In 2005 a small group got together to see if agriculture could be restored. Working in collaboration with the Michael Fields Institute, they selected specific variety of hard, red winter wheat that could withstand the maritime conditions. They began with a few seed and 5 acres. This has now grown to 1, 200! The wheat was initially used for bread and then the local brewery but eventually went on to become the base of all of Death’s Door Spirits.
The distillery expanded in 2012 and is now the largest craft distillery in Wisconsin with an annual capacity of 250,000 cases of finished product!
Why Death’s Door?
The Door Peninsula and Washington Island form a treacherous stretch of water that connects Green Bay to the rest of Lake Michigan. The Early French explorers named this water Porte des Morts, which literally means “Door of the Dead” or, “Death’s Door” due to the number of shipwrecks and gave rise to the gin’s name.
There are only THREE botanicals in Death’s Door gin: juniper, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds and come from the state when possible. There is an annual juniper harvest festival on Washington Island whereby guests can pick wild juniper berries!
The juniper used is Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red cedar) rather than Junipers communis.
Tasting Death’s Door Gin
Death Door Spirits use vodka as a base for their gin, and this is made using the aforementioned red winter wheat, corn and malted barley, but unlike some American gins, it doesn’t dominate the botanicals.
There is plenty of lovely juniper at the front of the palate before spice and lemon come through from the coriander, before a crisp, dry aniseed finish from the fennel. Go easy with the tonic for a G&T, or even try it with soda, and you’ll need to add lots of citrus to boost the flavour.
It was absolutely stunning in a martini, that base has a fabulous texture and the fennel combines well with vermouth. Divine!
When so much is made of the number and diversity of botanicals in gin these days, it’s refreshing to see how much can be achieved when you pare everything back. This gin was truly ahead of its time and in spite of the unusual base and heavy fennel I think this could be a useful and versatile gin to have in your arsenal.
If you haven’t tried it seek it out immediately!