Every November, Australian Gin Day celebrates the country’s incredible and ever-growing wealth of craft gins. This gives us all the opportunity (aka an ‘excuse’) to explore (aka ‘taste’) the amazing range of handmade Aussie gins we have here.
And to get an even better insight into what Aussie craft gin is about, we’ve asked four Aussie gin distillers a few questions about what really goes into making gin.
So let’s start off with the obvious one: ingredients. No one gin recipe is the same, and many Aussie gins have unique botanicals they love to use.
But what’s a distiller’s favourite botanical to use in their gin?
Ian Glen from Stone Pine Distillery in Bathurst NSW has “always been a fan of native botanicals, with pink finger lime, which we’ve used since 2008, my firm favourite.”
However, Chris Cameron from Naught Distillery in Melbourne VIC prefers what macadamia and toasted wattleseed do to his gins.
As Chris explains: “they’re very unique in the way they can add body to gin. When used in the right ratios, they can create tremendous mouthfeel to a gin, which creates a long memorable finish while complimenting dominant flavours.”
And while Marty Svelha from Banks and Solander Distillery in Botany NSW prefers the potent yet sweet nuance of strawberry gum, Karu Distillery’s Ally Ayres in the Blue Mountains NSW can’t get enough of the pomegranates that grow locally to her.
Describing them as “nature’s literal jewels”, Ally even has a unique way of using them in her Affinity Gin distillate: “I play the ‘one for the botanical basket, three for me’ game when prepping the baskets,” she explains.
But there’s more to gin distilling than just raw ingredients.
When we asked our distillers what they wished more people knew about their gins, they had plenty to say.
Ally Ayres says:
“I wish that people knew how actively involved the process is. There are a lot of steps involved from batches, botanical sourcing, quality control, bottling, hand labelling, making the cases, packing them all, cutting batches slowly with water and resting them for an amount of time.”
Ian Glen says:
“Just that they taste pretty good, and we currently have a gin for every day of the working week, so plenty of flavours to try.”
Chris Cameron says:
“We continually try to educate consumers about how to enjoy our gins through cocktails and elevated drinking experiences. Our hope is that our customers enjoy all our gins in different ways.”
Ed Svelha says:
“We only make drinks we are happy to drink ourselves. This means sometimes the ABV is higher and therefore the price of tax is higher, but this is a decision based on taste not profit.”
And Ed touches on a pretty tough subject here when she mentions ABV taxes. Making spirits (especially in Australia) is a costly enterprise.
So you often hear interesting answers to the question of what distillers would do next if money were no object.
Ed and Marty would love to expand their distillery in Botany to next door and set up a bottling line, which illustrates just how much is done by hand in Aussie craft distilleries.
And Ally also wants a “larger production space with more power”—though she confides that she wouldn’t mind a pizzeria out the back too!
Chris also wants to expand his production area in Melbourne, though he’s got his eye on going greener: “sustainability is such a big thing for us,” Chris says. “I would build a distillery that’s completely carbon neutral. We’re already aiming to become a certified B Corp Distillery.”
And Ian—ever the pragmatist—says simply: “Move it to the Maldives and lie on the beach while the still does its thing.”
Nice! Though I reckon Bathurst and Australia would miss you, Ian.