Taste Test: Banks and Solander Distillery’s Signature Gin

Not far from where famed naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander first stepped from Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour, Banks and Solander Distillery’s Signature Gin is a celebration of Australia’s wealth of native botanicals.

About Banks and Solander Distillery


In the backstreets of Botany Bay NSW, this husband-and-wife distillery has been in the pipeline since 2014.

Inspired by what they could create in their home still and motivated by a trip to Tasmania, Marty and Ed (lovely name by the way—my mum’s called Edith too!) Svehla went on to build their own distillery proper from scratch.

The Svehlas now produce a range of beautiful craft spirits, including their Signature and barrel-aged gins, liqueurs and special seasonal releases from their two hand-made stills 'Lady Banks' and 'Lizzy'—amores of the distillery’s two namesakes.


About the Bottle


The squat apothecary style bottle and wooden cork closure of Banks and Solander Signature Gin really speaks of the history this brand has surrounded itself with.

Even the plain black and white typeset and font of the label reminds you of botanists’ illustrated records from Sir Joseph and Dr Daniel’s era.

And through the crystal clear gin within, the reverse side of the back label shows colour-paintings of Australian leaf specimens—including banksia, which was named after Sir Joseph Banks himself.


Key Botanicals


There’s plenty going on in this excellent dry gin.

Australian natives like macadamia nut, Tasmanian pepper berry, lemon myrtle, strawberry gum and roasted wattle seed as well as more traditional botanicals like orange, coriander seed, cardamom, orris root, angelica and star anise—and plenty of juniper of course.

These botanicals are steeped overnight and then pot distilled in the morning, which creates a real depth of flavour.


Tasting Notes


Rich orange, anise and sweet strawberry on the nose with an underlying savoury spice from the juniper.

More orange balanced with pepper, umami and spice comes through, coating the mouth luxuriantly. There’s also a nuttiness and a gentle push of dark chocolate, perhaps from the wattle seeds.

The finish is long and pleasant, with an enjoyable heat from the 48% ABV.

Serving suggestions


This gin makes a superb martini. Chilled with minimal vermouth and a slice of orange or even a skewered red berry, Banks and Solander’s Signature Gin becomes a savoury, spicy cocktail with a big generous lick of liquorice.

But once you’ve had time to enjoy these powerful up-front notes, light florals, a subtle sweetness and a rich, warm oily texture follow.

It’s important to point out that this gin does go cloudy in a martini or when you add tonic water, the same thing that happens with spirits like pastis, absinthe or ouzo.

This is because the oil solubility decreases and it happens with high-oil spirits like some craft gins. When you see this, expect wonderful texture, plenty of flavour and a long finish with your drink.

Oil solubility is fascinating. A recent study from researchers at Twente University in the Netherlands is explained here much better than I ever could—with a cool time lapse video too.