The Five Australian Gins You Should Be Drinking This Summer
Good news, juniper freaks – Australia’s gin renaissance continues apace, with no hint that this craft spirit movement is showing any signs of abating. In fact, earlier this year the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards saw an increase of 65 per cent on gin entries into the awards from the previous year.
But with so many tasty, homegrown juniperous concoctions on the market these days, it’s hard to know just which brands are the most deserving of your wedge of lemon or tonic libation. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and put together five of our favourites, so you can enjoy these summer sippers without kowtowing to a cacophony of choice.
Botanic Garden Grown Gin, Distillery Botanica
Formerly named Distillery Botanica Gin, this cheeky little number (700ml, $129) claims to be the country’s most Australian gin. Master Distiller and juniper genius Phillip Moore has partnered with the Australian Botanic Garden of Mount Annan to create this limited-edition tipple that celebrates unique Aussie botanicals such as Wombat Berry, Ginger Rhizome, Macadamia and a touch of the famous Bunya Pine Nut.
“Using rare botanicals from Australia’s largest botanic garden, this is possibly the most Australian gin you’ll have ever tasted,” says co-creator Will Miles.
“The Garden’s mantra is no plants, no future. Which also means, no gin. So we’re honoured to collaborate and support a project with such commitment to Australia’s conservation.”
Miles says proceeds from sales of the limited-edition gin will go towards the Garden’s conservation initiatives, which help preserve Australia’s biodiversity through seed collection, seed banking, and research and training.
Australian Green Ant Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery
If you’re looking for a uniquely quirky Aussie gin, then it would be very hard to go past the collaboration between the Something Wild Beverage Company and Adelaide Hills Distillery and their Australian Green Ant Gin (700ml, $97.50). Especially seeing as this incredibly inventive hooch won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition earlier this year.
Green ants have traditionally been favoured by Indigenous societies for their medicinal benefits and protein content, and they display vibrant flavours of lime and coriander. They’re used in this gin alongside other Australian botanicals such as a native juniper called Boobiala, Finger Lime, Strawberry Gum, Lemon Myrtle and Pepper Berry. Several intact green ants are then added to each bottle, so you can eat them too (kind of like a gusano de maguey in Mezcal or ‘tequila worm’).
The bush tucker is hand-harvested in the Northern Territory by the Motlop family of the Larrakia people. In creating the drink, Something Wild and Adelaide Hills aimed to help the family grow their business with new opportunities, as well as raise awareness of how native Australian ingredients are sourced.
It’s best enjoyed neat with some green ants as garnish or in a Green Ant Gimlet (60 mL Green Ant Gin, 15 mL Finger Lime Juice, 10mL Lemon Myrtle Infused, Sugar Syrup. Pour into a Boston, Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with finger lime).
Raspberry Gin, Hippocampus
Looking for something a little different? How about this vibrant pink, raspberry gin from Victoria’s Hippocampus (700ml, $85). The spirit for this gin was distilled with botanicals selected especially to work with raspberries. After distillation, the gin was then macerated on a charge of raspberries giving the spirit a distinctive colour, aroma and flavour. It also includes Strawberry Gum leaf, Cassia bark, Orange peel and Earl Grey tea as key botanicals.
“This raspberry gin was a bit of a play off the style of Sloe Gin,” says Head Distiller Alex Poulsen. “We added a significant amount of fresh raspberries to the spirit and allowed it to sit for a week. There was no artificial sweetener or colouring added so the natural tartness of the berries comes through and makes for a wonderfully balanced spirit.”
She suggests drinking it as a gin and tonic garnished with fresh raspberries or using it in a Clover Club (50mL Raspberry Gin, 30mL lemon juice, 10mL simple syrup, 15mL Raspberry syrup, 1 egg. Dry shake then shake over ice and double strain).
Australian Christmas Gin, Four Pillars
The Four Pillars annual Christmas release (700ml, $100) is becoming something of an institution Down Under. So much so that it usually sells out way before jolly Saint Nick can do his rounds on Christmas Eve. It’s a drop that smells like gin but tastes like Christmas, created lovingly by Four Pillars co-owner Cameron Mackenzie.
“This very special gin is Cam’s tribute to four things he loves: Australia, Christmas, gin and his late mum, Wilma,” says co-owner Stuart Gregor. “To make this gin Cam first distills Christmas puddings with juniper, cinnamon, star anise, coriander and angelica over the top. He also ages some gin in 125-year-old ex-William Grant barrels that had previously stored Rutherglen Muscat for 80 years. He then blends this with the Christmas pudding gin, and to finish he adds a slight tweak of Rutherglen Classic Muscat to round out the palate.”
Gregor says that with the juniper-led Christmas tree notes and plum pudding character it is perfect sipped neat, poured over your pudding or added to egg-nog. Ho ho ho!
Australian Dry Gin, Manly Spirits
Sometimes all you need is a reliable and delicious gin that does exactly what it says on the tin. Something you can throw in a tumbler with some tonic and ice and wash away the week’s work vibes one scrumptious sip at a time. Enter the Australian Dry Gin from Manly Spirits (700ml, $80). Not only is this a multi-award winner (how’s a Double Gold from San Francisco 2018 and a Silver from the 2018 International Wine and Spirits Competition), but it’s also an instant crowd pleaser at home too.
It’s a blend of ten carefully-considered sustainably foraged marine, Australian native and traditional botanicals distilled into a pure Australian wheat spirit. There’s a little bit of aniseed myrtle, a touch of finger lime, some mountain pepper leaf, topped off with sustainably-foraged sea lettuce.
The Sydney beachside distillery says the drink was inspired by sunrise swim through the crystal-clear waters of Manly’s famed marine sanctuary and crafted using a carefully-considered blend of sustainably foraged marine botanicals, Australian native and more traditional gin botanicals. Bright, fresh flavours of citrus, marine and juniper give way to peppery notes that present a lingering finish.
Try with Indian Fevertree Tonic, topped off with a slice of orange and a pepperberry leaf. Preferably by the beach as the sun sinks into the horizon.
Published 03 December, 2018