Gin is always going to be a love/hate thing.
While some have a certain appreciation for the subtle flavours and aromas that make gin unique, others are repulsed at the drink they always associated with bitter sips of Gordon’s gin and Schweppes Tonic Water they got from their parents.
At the same time though, the world of Gin goes so far beyond this, and in terms of the way it’s made, few spirits rival it for the real skill it requires to create and finesse.
It’s no wonder then that a slew of artisan distilleries are making it their mission to put Australia well and truly on the world map of spirit production, through the medium of gin.
How Gin Is Produced
Delve a little beyond the Bridget Jones reputation that gin has, and you’ll find that it’s actually a spirit of incredible finesse, balance and complexity. gin was originally invented in the Middle East and popularised in the port towns of England, where the rich access to spices and botanicals made for the creation of a truly unique drink.
Starting life as a relatively neutral tasting alcoholic spirit, all gins are then flavoured primarily with juniper berries as a rule, before being distilled multiple times with barks, roots, spices, and a range of other ingredients that impart a unique blend of tangy, spicy flavours to the drink.
With so much freedom afforded to those who make it, it’s little surprise that so many styles of gin have arisen across the world (for example, Plymouth Gin has a distinctly different flavour to the London gins of Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire and Gordon’s), and it’s this freedom that has helped gin become probably the most diverse and popular craft spirit in Australia today. Seriously, go and look at how many great Aussie gins there are out there. It’s quite astounding. Here’s just a few!
Melbourne Gin Company, VIC
First of all, it’s fair to say that Melbourne Gin Company’s label is possibly the best looking of any bottle of alcohol made in Australia today. But it’s not all style over substance. Distilled on the same bit of real estate as the esteemed Gembrook Hill Vineyard, Melbourne Gin Company’s gin has been developed from the artisan stovetop experimentation of one man. Distilled with all the classic staples of Gin, Melbourne Gin Company also throw in macadamias, orange, sandalwood, and a range of barks and roots to keep things thoroughly cosmopolitan and Australian.
Young Henry's Noble Cut, NSW
Everyone’s sunk a schooner of Newtowner by now, but the latest venture by Young Henry’s is to take a brewer’s approach to the art of gin distillation. What do they bring to the table that’s unique? Hops. They are a craft brewery at heart after all. As one of the few distilleries in the world to add hops in their mixture of botanicals, they’ve created a truly unique gin that speaks for the sights and sounds of Newtown.
Lark Distillery Forty Spotted Dry Gin, TAS
Forty Spotted harks back to the traditional dry gins of London Town, with heavy flavours of juniper and rose petal forming the base of its flavour profile. What gives Forty Spotted a new world twist however is the addition of a rare, native Tasmanian spice that balances the traditional London bitterness with peppery, spicy flavours. Lark Distillery is also one of Tasmania’s premier whiskey distilleries, and you can buy a barrel aged version of Forty Spotted for just a few bucks more.
Adelaide Hills Distillery 78 Degrees Small Batch Gin, SA
Adelaide Hills 78 Degrees is truly hand crafted, and the distillers actually hand designed their own column and basket still system to retain as many of the 12 unique botanical flavours as possible in their Gin.
To get the most out of this system, this grape-based gin is never heated past 78.1 degrees (hence the name) and made with pure Adelaide Hills water, creating a punchy, almost savoury tasting gin.