Taking you through a few details of the remarkable spirits coming from Aussie stills, our Taste Test series gives you an idea of what to expect from the bottle you’re about to buy.
This episode is all about the remarkable Lightning Gin from Karu Distillery, NSW.
About the brand
Karu Distillery is a husband-and-wife outfit in the beautiful northeastern reaches of the Blue Mountains, not too far from Sydney.
Owner-distillers Ally and Nick Ayres have been crafting superb gins since 2017, starting with their Affinity Gin, which Ally developed.
They’ve gone on to create the navy strength Lightning Gin, which won Double Gold honours at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2019 (Affinity won gold that year too by the way).
And now Ally is working on the net step of the Karu journey: rum!
About the bottle
Cut like a diamond, the Karu Lighting Gin bottle has minimal labelling on the front, showing off the bright clarity of the gin within.
The back label shows through and tells you you’re about to experience something… unorthodox.
Many of the botanicals both in this gin and the Affinity are grown on the grounds of Karu Distillery or foraged from nearby, which is pretty cool.
But on the list are rose geranium, lemon myrtle, ruby grapefruit and mandarin, oodles of juniper and an impressive 57.5ABV.
It’s always a good sign when your mouth waters when you smell a gin, and that happens every time with the Lightning. Floral notes and juniper are the most striking aromas, along with a citrus burst and alcohol pop that suggests balance straight away.
Fruity sharpness leads to orange, then a peppery liquorice tang and a long finish buttoned down with an elegant dryness. The high alcohol doesn’t burn or disrupt, it just adds a kind of playful menthol quality and a tingle on the lips.
Karu - by the way - means ‘bear’ in Estonian. A gentle giant that’s terrific when roused, this navy strength beauty of a gin certainly lives up to its family name.
Karu recommends drinking this gin as a tall G&T at first, but I think I prefer their second suggestion: straight with a drop of chilled water. It’s oily enough and robust enough to behave much like a whisky.