High in the Australian tropics, Wolf Lane Distillery crafts spirits that embody the climate, culture and coastline of Cairns. Here are three of their best.
When you think of Cairns, images come to mind of tropical rainforests, endless beaches and of course the Great Barrier Reef.
But what about small bars and Aussie craft distilleries?
Weill, up until 2016, there wasn’t much like that here. Bars were big and our beloved industry was pretty underrepresented.
And then everything changed.
Wolf Lane Distillery
Moving from Sydney to Far North Queensland in 2016, business partners Samuel Kennis and Darren Barber set their mark on this popular tourist town by opening Three Wolves.
This little laneway bar focused on great cocktails and developing the small bar vibes that was already in full flow further down the east coast.
Three Wolves’ success let the duo to opening their second bar Gin Social in the lobby of the Hilton in Cairns and shortly after that a tiki bar called Flamingo’s.
Two years later, in 2018, Barber and Kennis started Wolf Lane Distillery, right next door to their first bar Three Wolves.
Three Gins From Wolf Lane
With a mind to creating gins that would speak of the distillery’s surroundings, Kennis and Barber have worked hard at combining flavours that you’d only expect from tropical north Queensland.
Tropical fruits and botanicals from the area give a distinctive personality to Wolf Lane’s gins.
Wolf Lane Distillery’s Tropical Gin
Botanicals: The distillery reveals all 13 botanicals as juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, cinnamon, lemon myrtle, Tasmanian pepperberry, cardamom, macadamia, ruby grapefruit, mango, finger lime, lavender and mint.
Aromas: full of bright spicy juniper and plenty of citrus.
Taste: earthy at first that leads to a full, juicy flavour with hints of coriander, citrus and a long bright finish. Silky texture and tingly on the lips.
This is lovely in a martini, but would also go well in citrus-forward cocktails and a G&T.
Wolf Lane Distillery’s Navy Strength Gin
Botanicals: the distillery’s not giving as much away with this. Only finger limes, ruby grapefruit and macadamia are mentioned, though the impressive 58%ABV should also be considered as a main component here as it gives so much flavour, texture and finish.
Aromas: fruity on the nose with a hit of juniper at the back.
Taste: very rich almost syrupy mouthfeel with bags of juniper that roll over citrus, spice and a slight touch of anise and eucalypt.
This makes a banging martini and G&T, but will stand up in any cocktail you dare mix this 58%ABV beefcake in.
Wolf Lane Distillery’s Davidson Plum Gin
Botanicals: obviously locally sourced Davidson plums take the spotlight here, but there’s also an excellent gin underneath too.
The bright reddy orange colour comes from the distillery steeping plums in the gin for up to three months and the results speak for themselves.
I’m usually wary of fruit-infused gins, but this is brilliant. The sour yet juicy and somehow savoury flavours of the plums work well with the juniper backbone of the gin.
Aromas: deep plummy aroma along with burnt orange and stewed rhubarb sitting on top of the juniper.
Taste: starts off tasting like regular gin while the aromas of juniper still linger in your nose, then immediately a wonderfully juicy sour flavour of the plums jumps in.
Jammy sweetness is tempered with the plum’s natural tartness and like a dab of citric acid, the spirit lifts off the tongue almost evaporating to leave long ginny afternotes and a familiar yet foreign taste from the combination of gin and these exotic native fruit.