From the Inner West suburb of Marrickville in Sydney, Poor Toms has been distilling superb spirits since 2015. We take a closer look at one of the distillery’s OG: Poor Toms’ Sydney Dry Gin.
Anyone who lives in or near Sydney will tell you that the suburb of Marrickville is the craft capital of the city. The concentration of independent breweries and distilleries here is amazing.
But before 2015, things were very different.
Poor Toms was really the touch paper that started this explosion of small, handmade producers in this part of the Inner West.
About Poor Toms
Poor Toms was founded by Jesse Kennedy and Griff Blumer, two mates who have known each other since high school and who, coincidentally, have the same middle name: Tom.
So one part of the distillery’s name is now clear.
As for the ‘Poor’ part, it may have some insinuation to their finances when they were sharing a house in Newtown in their early twenties and the idea of a distillery first came about.
More likely, it’s a reference to the character of Edgar in Shakespeare’s King Lear, who pretends to be a madman called Poor Tom.
Certainly, when we met them when they first started out, Griff and Jesse’s nervous, excited energy suggested that there was still a part of them that thought there was a touch of madness to this distillery idea they’d dreamt up.
But they’ve gone on to be one of the stalwarts of Australian distilling, and you’ll find their gins, vodka and amaro in bars and bottle shops right across the country.
About the Bottle
Jesse and Griff have always had great branding. The artwork of their bottle labels is so striking and the Sydney Dry Gin bottle’s no exception.
Abstract orgy-like chaos, perhaps representing the feigned madness of King Lear’s Poor Tom, is inspired by Renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch’s strange The Garden of Earthly Delights and tells a tale of what’s inside.
It’s refreshingly irreverent, funny and purely creative, and is one of those labels you could sit and look at for hours and still see something new the next time you pick it up.
While you’re examining the artwork, you’ll notice hints of the botanicals Griff and Jesse have used in their Sydney Dry Gin—as well as stuff that’s hopefully not in the gin; bats, bin chickens, giant koalas and a man inexplicably popping flowers up someone’s bum!
Jesse and Griff have always pushed back against making a ‘London Dry’ gin, determined to make something different and a gin that would represent where they’re from and where the gin comes from too.
Poor Toms’ Sydney Dry Gin is still juniper-led, but there’s plenty of differences that sets it apart from a classic London dry style.
Listed botanicals for the Sydney Dry are: juniper, freshly pressed granny smith apples, strawberry gum leaf, chamomile, lemon myrtle, coriander seed, angelica root, cinnamon, cardamon and cubeb pepper.
On the nose, juniper, soft strawberry jellybeans and citrus with underlying peppery spice, lifted floral notes
To taste, you get juicy strawberry sweetness (in the same way that strawberries are never that sweet and it always surprises you) and light, minty-menthol eucalypt notes are followed with slight earthiness and a medium finish.
There’s also a lovely silky smooth oily texture to this gin that coats the mouth and even though it’s over 41%ABV, there’s no burn from Poor Toms’ Sydney Dry Gin, even when you taste it neat.
Surely, this is a martini gin. It’s so smooth and delicate that a martini, served clean and very dry, would do it justice.
Alternatively, Sydney Dry Gin with a light tonic would make a lovely G&T, and Poor Toms also recommend a south side, which I get.
This gin would also go well in a negroni, especially if you’re using Poor Toms’ Imbroglio instead of the oh so basic Campari.