It’s hard to believe that another year has passed (my brain is still stuck in 2020) and that means it’s time to share my Top Australian Gins of 2022!
This is an opportunity for me to share some great gins, made by great Aussie distillers. It’s not an exhaustive list, I have tasted lots of good ones this year, but these are my stand-outs.
As in previous years, I’m not paid to include any of these gins and the distillers won’t know they are on the list until they (hopefully) read this post!
So here are my Top Australian Gins* of 2022.
*Why aren’t there 10 this year? After a late night chat with my gin buddy Ainsley, I realised I was including gins I wouldn’t rave about, just to get to 10…so 8 it is!
Prohibition Liquor Co. Juniperus Gin
Hugh Lumsden, distiller at PLC has used juniper every which way to create Juniperus gin. It has the largest amount of juniper of any of their gins and the berries have been crushed, macerated, vapour infused and pot distilled.
It has beautiful pine aromas with hints of forest floor. Rich flavours of resinous juniper fill the mouth and warm spice lingers on the finish. The higher ABV boosts the juniper flavour, however, the punchiness is softened by the integration of macadamia and vanilla. Riverland oranges add a lift of citrus to freshen the whole experience.
This is a gin for those who like their gins with a juniper punch. Perfect in a G&T.
47% ABV, 500ml
Reed & Co. Distillery Saint Juni gin
Hamish and Rachel have boosted the gin’s juniper profile by using Eucalyptus nicollai and cedar as botanicals.
This gin doesn’t scream juniper, instead it sings. It’s an homage to juniper without making you feel like you’ve been punched in the face. It’s aromatic with layered juniper notes; some floral, some piney, some woody, showcasing the range of flavours this humble pine cone brings to a spirit.
Reed & Co have created a gin at the lower end of the ABV (40%) range and yet it bursts with rich flavours that you are more likely to experience when drinking in a Navy Strength gin.
Mouth-watering. Neat, G&T, martinis, whatever. Get it in my mouth now….
** MY FAVOURITE GIN OF 2022**
40% ABV, 700ml
Imperial Measures Distilling Ounce Gin ‘Bright’
Looking over the recipe I was intrigued to try this gin as it features such an interesting mix of botanicals.
The nose on Ounce Gin ‘Bright’ is fresh and herbaceous with hints of lime and a touch of fresh rose petal. The palate bursts with warm spice flavours from pink pepper, cardamom seeds, nutmeg and ginger. Liquorice and angelica root ground the gin and keep the spice warm, but not hot. Plenty of juniper and coriander bring the extra ‘bright’ ness while fresh mint creates a lovely dry finish.
A cleverly balanced gin that would be great in a Southside.
44.5% ABV, 700ml
Darling Distillery Coffee gin
Before moving to Melbourne in 2011, I was a diehard Starbucks decaf latte kinda gal (don’t hate me), but I soon learned the error of my ways.
Darling Distillery’s gin featured in my Top 10 Australian gins of 2021 and they’re going back to back with their coffee gin.
Taking their original gin as a starting point, the team macerate cacao nibs, roasted hazelnuts and wattleseed for a week before the spirit is blended with locally roasted cold brew coffee. Dates are added for natural sweetness balancing the bitterness of the coffee.
This is soooo tasty. The dark chocolate and nutty notes are the perfect foil to the bitterness of the coffee and the use of dates is ingenious. Honey and butter feature in the original gin to give a luxurious mouthfeel and this is carried through to Darling Distillery Coffee gin.
Coffee lovers this one is for you. Try it in a Coffee Negroni or a Turbo G&T.
38% ABV, 500ml
Or a special mixer tasting gift set from The Ginporium.
Naught Classic Dry gin
I first tasted this gin before it launched way back in April. I swung by the distillery with my friend Anne (who just happens to be the Master Distiller of Bombay Sapphire!) and distiller Chris was keen to get our thoughts.
It was love at first sip and it went straight onto my list of potential top gins. At that point in the year it was the best gin I’d tasted so far.
There is juniper, citrus and there is spice, but instead of picking out individual ingredients you are presented with a beautifully balanced spirit where all the botanicals work in harmony. I appreciated the slightly higher ABV (44%) as the flavours aren’t lost when mixing.
This was SUCH a close second to my favourite gin of the year and is a stunning example of a Classic Dry gin. (Anne loved it too btw).
44% ABV, 700ml
Big Tree Distillery Grapefruit, Olive Leaf and Rosemary Gin
I’m pretty obsessed with rosemary and grapefruit as garnishes in a G&T, so I thought this gin might appeal to me and I wasn’t wrong.
I like how the zesty grapefruit notes are balanced with a slight bitterness from the pith. The rosemary and olive leaf offer a herbaceous backdrop that elevates it from being just another citrus forward gin to a much more interesting spirit.
Perfect in G&Ts and Negroni.
40% ABV, 700ml
Made to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne.
Moontide Distillery The Pearler’s Gin
Oyster shell gins are very popular at the moment, but Moontide Distillery uses the oyster mantle rather than the shell to create their ‘The Pearler’s’ Gin.
Oyster mantle is the thin outer edge of the animal’s flesh that is harvested once the final pearl has been collected at the end of its lifecycle. If that sounds gross I can tell you that I was a sceptic, until I tried it.
Lemon myrtle brings sherbet lemon aromas and bright citrus flavours, before piney juniper notes emerge. Tartness from Burdekin plum and the use of fresh mint, combine with the other botanicals to create a gin with crisp, citrus notes and a mineral quality that makes it a go-to for a martini.
41% ABV, 700ml
This gin is a collaboration with Pearls of Australia.
Tara Distillery Blooming gin
Fruit gins are really popular at the moment, especially with our sweet toothed gin buddies, but they can be a bit hit and miss for me, veering too far towards liqueur territory.
Ben and Alarna have used locally grown rhubarb and blackberries to create a bright, delicious gin bursting with fruit flavours.
The confectionary aromas suggest that the gin is sweeter than it turns out to be. What I particularly enjoy about Blooming gin is that the fruit flavours are clearly differentiated. Tart rhubarb leads the way followed by rich juicy blackberries and a hint of strawberry and liquorice on the finish, which I really like.
Yes, it’s a sweeter style gin, but this is no liqueur. Try it in a Bramble (pictured).
38% ABV, 700ml
On another note:
I’m sometimes asked why I don’t call out ‘sub-standard’ gins. It’s important to remember that behind every gin brand is a hardworking person or team who have invested an incredible amount of time, effort and money (sometimes putting their house up as security) to realise their dream of making their own gin. Crushing people’s dreams and rubbishing their efforts isn’t why I started the Gin Queen.
My Nana used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” and I keep that in mind when I’m writing. Of course if a distiller wants feedback, then I’ll share it with them privately.
As a judge for World Gin Awards, Australian Distilled Spirits competition and American Distilling Institute, I’ve been taught to appraise a gin, as well as spotting ‘faults’. Most competitions use the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting, which you can read about here.
If you are looking for more of my top picks, check out them out here: