With so many options for world-class gin made here in Australia, choosing which one to buy is a tricky business.
Of course, we’d say just buy one of each, but while you’re working up to that, our Taste Test series is here to give you some pointers.
Today, we’re checking out Mornington Peninsula’s Balcombe Gin and their excellent Mabel Dry Gin.
About the brand
Following in the giant footsteps of the likes of Four Pillars, Balcombe comes from wine. In fact the two founders of Balcombe - Barney Flanders and Cam Marshall - are still making Victorian vino.
And as much as their wine background follows the treasured Chardonnay and Pinot of the Mornington, so their gin matches its peninsular surroundings too.
The boys did have some help with this one though. Thanks to the wise hand and careful skill of Brogan Carr of Brogan’s Way Distillery in Melbourne, this iteration of Balcombe Gin has a nuance that befits her style.
Full of the flavours of this unique piece of Aussie coastline, their Mabel Dry Gin has a wonderful sea-faring vibe.
About the bottle
Both the name of the company and the moniker of the gin take root in a famous Mornington family - the Balcombes. Perhaps the best known and most loved of the multi-generational dynasty that lived on the peninsula was Dame Mabel Balcombe Brookes.
She was an activist, historian, humanitarian and socialite (aka likely gin drinker).
The Balcombe label reflects its namesake’s heritage. There’s an old-school look about the label that reminds us of those tough but golden years of Australia’s modern history.
Apart from the cleverly gentle use of juniper, this gin speaks of the Mornington Peninsula. Local samphire tells of the gin’s coastal origins, adding a saline quality to the gin, while green cardamom and pepperberry do more of the work.
Sweetness and juniper on the nose, a sweet likeable character at first taste that opens to pepperiness and finishes with umami and sharpness, and a mid-palate tingle.
In sporting terms, this gin would be classed as a perfect all-rounder.
Because the juniper isn’t as striking as many other gins out there, because there’s a balanced sweetness, savouriness and spice, and because the texture is so smooth and calm, this gin is a real team player.
It will give backbone to any cocktail without outshining the other ingredients, it would make an easy-drinking martini and would play nicely with citrus for a gimlet.
I can see what they mean. The tonic blends so well with this gin and a cheeky orange wedge or well-meaning sprig of lemon thyme would make for a wonderful drink.
However, I’d like to push this gin a bit further, maybe tinker with a Martinez and make the sweetness of dear Mabel work its magic.