Pinkster gin is the original pink gin. Made with real raspberries, this is one of the most popular tipples at Junipalooza Melbourne every year! Make mum with a French 75 made with Pinkster and she’ll love you for ever!
Happenstance gin is a new hailing from South Australia. Mei-Lin and her business partner Tim make it using traditional pot stills over an open flame. They’ve married classic botanicals like juniper and coriander to lemon myrtle and strawberry gum to create a delicious citrus forward gin. Buy it for mum andmake her glad that she raised such a wonderful child!
Happenstance gin $80. Buy from the distillery here.
Aromatherapy Juniper and White Thyme candle and handcream set
This gorgeous set comprises of a 260g candle and 75g hand cream fragranced with juniper and white thyme.
The essential oil blend of in this candle creates a fresh, warm aroma for your home.
The hand cream is infused with Rose hip, Sweet Almond & Carrot Seed Oils and extracts of Pomegranate, blended with the 100% pure and natural essential oils of Juniper Berry & White Thyme to detoxify, stimulate and rejuvenate the skin.
Gin, Distilled: The Essential Guide for Gin Lovers
My fabulous business partner in Junipalooza Melbourne, Olivier, has written this fantastic book for gin lovers.
It Includes, The history of craft gin; a short guide to gin styles and botanicals; how to taste gin; how to decipher bottle labels; the essential gins to try to master the breadth of this spirit; how best to serve different gins & which garnishes to use; choosing the right gin for every occasion; recipes for the best gin cocktails – classic and new; making the perfect G and making your own home infusions.
Award-winning Karu Distillery have created 2 different blends of botanical rich tea bags to heighten your gin drinking experience!
Vermillion contains Honey bush, delicate rose petals , orange and Rosella all giving a beautiful floral sweetness to the gin, while Amethyst contains Lemon grass, butterfly pea flowers and ginger root giving citrus and subtle spice flavours.
Junipalooza Melbourne is the top gin event in Australia. 2019 sees us move to a larger venue where we’ll be welcoming more Australian and International Distillers. Remember, Our ‘Meet the Maker’ ethos means we only sell stands to those brands who can send along their distiller, so you’ll be chatting directly with the people who make your favourite tipple.
Most of our Early Bird tickets have gone and we are once again anticipating a sell-out event so make sure Mum doesn’t miss out!
South Australia is home to some of the best Australian gins. Relative new-comer Imperial Measures Distilling have picked up a slew of awards recently, so I caught up with Chris and David to find out more about them, their gins and their future plans.
Tell me the story behind IMD? How did you two meet?
David and I met working behind the bar at The Apothecary in Adelaide back in 2014 and quickly bonded over a common love for Gin and Cocktails.
Were you always interested in making gin, or did you have other spirits in mind?
Gin was always at the forefront of our minds as we both have a bit of a geeky fascination with flavour and its sources. Botanicals are a natural extension of that, and gin is so wonderfully and uniquely botanically expressive that it became a bit of an obsession for us to pursue the path of distillation.
We were singularly focused on getting our foot in the distilling door by making an approachable and delicious gin suited to a classic ‘G ‘n T’ format before thinking too seriously about other spirits.
Having said that, we have had thoughts and discussions about many other categories – amaro and vermouth have great appeal to us – and we often like to gaze into the crystal ball and ponder about what the next big thing might be…
Initially, Brendan Carter at Applewood Distillery made the gin. What made you take that route?
Necessity and opportunity! We had been developing the flavour profile of Ounce Gin ‘Signature’ in-house for almost a year before the idea of using Brendan’s still was floated. Our goal was always to drum up enough money to purchase our own still and find a venue, but the financial realities of life meant that without significant investment we would be nothing more than hobbyists at best.
Brendan has been a great friend of ours for ages, and the opportunity to use his still came up out of a dinner party conversation. It turned out to be a timely and mutually beneficial idea at the relatively early stages of his and our distilling careers.
We were the first brand to be contract distilled out of Applewood and at the time we were chuffed at the amazing offer and remain eternally grateful to Brendan and Laura and all of the Applewood crew for the opportunity they gave us to launch our brand.
What made you decide to take production in-house?
As great as it was being able to get our hands dirty with someone else’s 300 litre still, it was never ours to use as we wished, and so we were limited by what we could do and when we could do it.
That, and the fact that we had to prepare and run all of the botanicals of our recipe up to Gumeracha from Adelaide as well as 120+ litres of our own filtered water, then come down the hill with 300 odd bottles of Ounce Gin near twice a month, and I’m sure you can see the desire to move out of ‘Mum and Dads place’ as it were and into our own was pretty strong.
During that time, you gave the brand a complete overhaul and began using those stunning decanter style bottles. What was the inspiration behind that?
Thank you! We love the bottles too. We felt that with the move to new digs, juice now coming from our own brand new 500 liter still, and a transition from three key business partners to two, that we could afford to upgrade to a 700ml bottle and spend a bit of time on the redesign and relaunch the brand.
Our general branding has always given a stylistic nod to the Victorian era , and we felt that a lovely decanter style would be a fitting way to present our product. We spent a great deal of time and effort on what went into the bottles so it seemed only fitting to package it in something beautiful…and we love that people are repurposing them for water and vases and oils and other things.
Describe your gins and your choice of botanicals. Did any gin influence your choices?
So we have 2 gins – Ounce Gin ‘Signature’ and Ounce Gin – ‘Bold’.
Signature was designed to be an approachable, drinkable, contemporary styled ‘Gin & Tonic’ gin, with emphasis on the lovely bright fresh citrus that we grow all over southern Australia.
Along with the classic profile of juniper, coriander seed and angelica root, we added ruby grapefruit, vanilla and green cardamom as key flavour botanicals. With pimento and black cardamom for mid palate spice, and macadamia for richness and mouth feel. It makes a delicious gin and tonic, but also combines well with citrus, so it makes great cocktails such as an Army and Navy or any Gin Sour, and the orange element also makes for a fantastic Negroni (particularly with our own Ruby Bitter Aperitif).
Ounce Gin ‘Bold’ is the polar opposite of Signature. Bold harks back to the more classic herbal and savoury notes of ‘London Dry’ styles of the past. A big whack of juniper is the primary driver, as well as coriander seed and angelica. Big bunches of sage and thyme that we grow at the Distillery go into the vapour basket, as well as black pepper, lemon rind and orris root.
Bold is also great in more traditional style gin beverages, including mixed with tonic or particularly soda but it really sings in a Martini.
It’s a bit hard to say whether any one gin influenced our choices because in some ways every gin did, even if it was in clarifying what not to use, or what we didn’t particularly like. We weren’t trying to emulate any particular style with our first gin, we were just seeking drinkability and deliciousness.
What is the most challenging and the most rewarding thing about distilling gin?
The most challenging thing is to try not to be all things to everyone. Gin drinkers are prolific, passionate, and also prepared to try new things, but like any aficionado they have personal preferences and favourites, and as a distiller you just have to go with your instinct and believe in what you are doing.
The most rewarding thing is probably seeing people enjoy the gin, whether they be long time gin lovers, or most satisfying of all, new converts.
You’ve picked up several awards recently at the ADSA and Tasting Australia Competitions (Congratulations). How did that feel?
Amazing. Humbling. Reassuring. All of the words…
Picking up the ADSA award in Melbourne was mind-blowing as we really didn’t expect it. Bold has managed to win Gold Medals before (5 from 5 competitions entered, including one of only two Australian Golds at the World Gin Awards), but we’ve never been fortunate enough to win a ‘Best in Category’ before.
Nabbing the Tasting Australia Award for Best Gin from a field of near 170 odd outstanding gins and gin producers, on our home turf (Adelaide), was an incredible feeling that won’t soon be forgotten.
How does winning awards impact the business?
Well, it does a few things, not the least of which is to increase our profile. Rightly or wrongly, it legitimises what we do. More immediately it has caused a noted uptick in interest and sales, and we are trying hard to determine the best way for us to capitalise on that wave.
You will debuting at Junipalooza Melbourne this year. What are you hoping to get out the experience?
New friends and new fans broadly. It will also be one of the few times that we have travelled together ,given that one of us usually has to be at home base, so it should be fun.
What are the best ways/signature serves of each of your gins?
We love ‘Signature’ served with a lovely fresh wheel of orange it just accentuates the best aspects of our gin. Ruby Grapefruit or Lemon are also good and any fleshy fruit such as mango works a treat as well.
We like to serve ‘Bold’ with some delicious green olives. Capturing some of the briny goodness in the glass really brings out the wonderful herbal and savoury characteristics. If olives aren’t your cup of tea, a slice of lemon and a sprig of thyme work beautifully as well.
What’s next for Imperial Measures Distilling?
Keep on, keepin’ on! We’ve opened a cellar door in West Thebarton and that is growing in popularity. We want to promote it as a welcoming venue where you can try our gins or learn more about distillation.
Once wine vintage winds up, we are looking at adding a product to the repertoire. Then we will be focusing on expanding our interstate sales, and looking seriously at exporting.
Our general plan is to keep on making quality booze. Our mantra is to make the right things for the right reasons, and not to settle on a product if it isn’t of exceptional quality. We don’t want to compromise on that, certainly not now that a light has been shone on us.
Awards season is well and truly upon us. San Francisco World Spirits Awards is the international competition that Australian distillers are keen to enter with the hope of winning a medal.
This year Australian gins won 1 Platinum Medal, 6 Double Golds (up from 5 in 2018), 11 Golds (up from 7 in 2018), 22 Silver (up from 21 in 2018) and 15 Bronze (same as 2018). A total of 54 medals (up from 48 in 2018).
The state with the most medals was Victoria (22), followed by South Australia (14), New South Wales (11), Western Australia (6), and Tasmania (2).
PLATINUM MEDAL 2019
The most exciting announcement this year, was Shene Estate‘s Poltergeist Unfiltered gin winning a Platinum medal. This award is only given to spirits that have won three consecutive Double Gold medals and Poltergeist is the first Australian gin to win a Platinum medal!
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2019 (Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges.)
GOLD MEDAL 2019 (an excellent product, meeting very high standards)
Adelaide Hills 78 Degrees gin
Karu Affinity gin
Manly Spirits Australian Dry gin
Brookie’s Dry gin
Old Young’s Common gin
Prohibition gin (SA)
Melbourne Gin Co.
Four Pillars Navy Strength gin
KIS Old Tom gin
Prohibition Barrel-Aged gin
Poor Toms Sydney Dry gin
SILVER MEDAL 2019 (A finely crafted spirit, well above average.)
Adelaide gin (SA)
Larrikin Barrel-Aged gin, Kilderkin Distillery (VIC)
1829 gin, Old Young’s Distillery (WA)
Batch Zero, South Coast Distillery (NSW)
Blush gin, Dobson’s (NSW)
Larrikin Buccaneer Navy Strength, Kilderkin Distillery (VIC)
Hippocampus Dry gin, Boatrockers Brewers and Distillers (VIC)
Everyday Salvation gin, Brogan’s Way Distillery (VIC)
Applewood Distillery gin (SA)
Juniper Freak, Never Never Distilling co (SA)
Melbourne Dry gin, Patient Wolf Distillery (VIC)
New England Dry gin, Dobson’s (NSW)
Barrel-Aged Oak gin, Cedar Fox Distilling,(VIC)
Royal Blood gin, Brogan’s Way Distillery (VIC)
Signature Dry Gin, Archie Rose Distillery (NSW)
Six Seasons gin, Old Young’s Distillery (WA)
Summer Thyme gin, Patient Wolf Distillery (VIC)
Sweet pea gin , Dobson’s (NSW)
The Cutlass, West Winds (WA)
Myrcene Hemp gin, Canna Co (VIC)
Hippocampus Tuk Tuk gin, Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers (VIC)
Barrel-Aged gin, KIS spirits (SA)
BRONZE MEDAL 2019 (A well-crafted spirit that deserves recognition.)
Brookie’s Slow Gin, Cape Byron Distillery (NSW)
Prohibition Christmas gin, Prohibition Distillery (SA)
Elegant gin, Big Tree Distillery (VIC)
Evening Light gin, Brogan’s Way Distillery (VIC)
Lobo Djinn (VIC)
Guvvos gin , Great Ocean Road Distilling (VIC
Larrikin Original Australian gin, Kilderkin Distillery (VIC)
Four Pillars Rare Dry gin, Four Pillars Distillery (VIC)
Scoundrel Dry gin, Kilderkin Distillery (VIC)
What is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition?
Launched in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition is considered the most respected and influential spirits competition in the world, with a rigorous judging process involving highly controlled blind-tastings with an expert panel who only receive information on spirit type, ABV and age (where applicable) to remove bias.
In partnership with Fever-Tree
“The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives and minds than all the doctors in the Empire”
During the 1800s, British Army officers were issued with quinine, a naturally occurring anti-malaria treatment. It is extremely bitter and in order to make it more palatable the officers mixed it with sugar and water. It wasn’t long before officers were mixing it with their gin rations and so the Gin and Tonic was born.
Shockingly, Malaria still kills around 500,000 people every year, half of whom are children under 5 years old, and yet it is entirely preventable. Unfortunately, there are signs of a global resurgence with the 2017 World Malaria Report showing the first increase in a decade.
Fever-Tree recently announced their intention to extend their six-year partnership with charity Malaria No More for a further 3 years, and are bringing back their award-winning social media campaign, ‘Raise Your Glass. Erase Malaria’ to raise money for the fight against malaria.
The campaign begins this week, to coincide with World Malaria Day on the 25th April and will continue until the end of May. Fever-Tree will be donating $5 for every ‘Raise a Glass’ photo shared on social media.
Supporting Fever-Tree’s campaign to erase malaria couldn’t be easier!
All you have to do is:
Share a point of view shot of a raised glass or ‘cheers’ on twitter or instagram
Include the following text “I’m raising my glass to erase malaria. @fevertreemixers are donating $5 for every drink shared. #malariamustdie”.
Isle of Harris gin is made on an island in the remote set of Scottish islands known as the Outer Hebrides.
The Isle of Harris is famous for its tweed, hand-woven by islanders at their homes with pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.
However, with the opening of the Isle of Harris Distillery in 2015 , a new local industry created employment and additional tourism to the area.
Isle of Harris gin botanicals
The gin is made using botanicals that we are familiar with; juniper berries, coriander seed, cassia bark, angelica root, bitter orange peel, cubeb pepper, licorice and orris root.
However, it’s the inclusion of the local sugar kelp that gives the gin its unique flavour and sense of place. This seaweed grows around the island and has a high iodine content. When the are fronds dried a type of sugar comes to the surface, hence its name.
Using a local seaweed expert the sugar kelp is hand-picked carefully so it can re-grow and provide continual harvest. This sustainable practice caused minimum damage to the local environment.
Isle of Harris gin to taste
Pleasingly, the gin has plenty of juniper at the fore; piney and fresh. Citrus follows, a pithy grapefruit flavour. The gin is super dry and has a little umami and sweetness in the middle palate. It has a very long finish with the mouth filling with warm, peppery notes.
Drinking Isle or Harris gin
Isle of Harris Gin stands up beautifully in a gin and tonic, the citrus and juniper dominate, while the pepper notes ensure the tonic doesn’t take over.
This gin truly shines in a martini. Deliciously dry, I’d add a touch more vermouth to soften, and garnish with either lemon to enhance the citrus notes, or an olive (or three).
As if creating a distinctive gin wasn’t enough, the distillery has worked with local glassblowers to make bespoke glassware that compliments the beautiful bottle. I’m lusting over these martini glasses! Maybe I’ll make room in my suitcase when I head over to London in June!
Isle of Harris gin has just reached Australia, with Alba Whisky appointed as their distributor. Retailers will be announced shortly.
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin is an unusual and unexpected gin.
Many distillers focus on using local ingredients in their recipes, but PJ Rigney, the man behind this gin has used only one, meadowsweet. Instead he has chosen botanicals from further afield, in particular, Asia.
The inclusion of the word ‘gunpowder’ in the name also meant I was expecting a Navy Strength gin! Don’t worry, I’ll explain.
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin is made at The Shed Distillery in the small town of Drumshanbo in Co.Leitrim., Ireland.
Tin Shed Distillery Still
Two different methods are used to make Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin. Like Hendrick’s gin, some of the botanicals are placed in the pot, while others (chinese lemon, grapefruit, makrut lime and the gunpowder tea) are vapour-infused. Vapour-infusion is a gentler method to extract flavour from botanicals without ‘stewing them’
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin contains many traditional botanicals; Juniper, angelica root, orris root, coriander seed, cardamom, plus star anise and caraway seed. There are also three types of citrus; chinese lemon, oriental grapefruit, and makrut lime (kaffir lime).
The chinese lemon or Meyer lemon is a hybrid native to Chinese. It’s a cross between citron and a mandarin/pomelo. The ‘oriental’ grapefruit is pomelo, a thick-skinned grapefruit.
Then there is the ‘gunpowder’ botanical! It actually refers to a type of Chinese tea that is rolled into small pellets that resemble grains of gunpowder.
The first thing you notice on opening the bottle, is unsurprisingly, citrus with pine notes from juniper coming through.
Tasting neat, there is lots of warmth from the star anise, a flavour a little like the pith of a grapefruit and a hint of tannin that I’m guessing comes from the tea. I then tasted it with Fever-Tree tonic. This opened up the gin to pronounced juniper and a strong citrus backbone. I’m not sure the tea comes through with the tonic, but the warm spice notes definitely did.
It’s a delicious, bold gin well worth experimenting with. I might have a play with my Sencha tea recipes with this gin to see if I can bring out the tea flavours more.
This gin has only recently arrived in Australia is available at Dan Murphy’s and other independent bottle shops.
Last December I celebrated 5 years since I launched the Gin Queen. To mark the occasion I approached Four Pillars gin to see if I could make a gin with distiller, Cam Mackenzie.
However, the main focus for creating the gin, was to raise money for my best friend Alex who was diagnosed by breast cancer in September. She has been undergoing brutal rounds of chemotherapy and will shortly commence radiotherapy.
The Gin Queen Gin
You know that my preferred gin is juniper forward and savoury. The type of gin that would be amazing in a Gibson. So in my recipe I included; juniper (OBVIOUSLY), coriander, gentian, lemon verbena and rosemary (from my garden), locally grown pink peppercorns, and angelica.
I’m very happy with the result! It was a fantastic experience and I’m very grateful to Cam and the Four Pillars team for the opportunity (and the amazing label!).
I will be putting one bottle of gin up for auction on eBay every three days until the (very, VERY small quantity) is gone.
On Thursday I’ll be holding an International Women’s Day event at Brogan’s Way Distillery, where Brogan will be a panelist alongside Dervilla McGowan from Anther Spirits and Holly Klintworth from Bass & Flinders. I did this interview with Brogan last year, not long after Brogan’s Way distillery opened, so it seemed like good timing to share this interview.
Tell me a little about the distillery.
Brogan’s Way Distillery is situated in the boutique Food & Drinks making precinct of Richmond. There are a bunch of us creating our quality products nearby like Makers Coffee Roaster, Dukes Street Coffee Roasters, Burnley Brewing, and Phillippa’s Bakery. Mountain Goat Brewing is just over the road and Moon Dog Brewing a stone’s throw north of us in Abbotsford.
How long have you been a distiller?
We started distilling on this site on ‘Mothers Day’ 2018 so I have been officially employed as the distiller since then. But my recipe development work for the products I distill today started just over three years ago working on a lab still as part of my MSc studies in Brewing & Distilling.
Did you always want to work in distilling?
No, I started out wanting to work in hematology, and originally qualified as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. I changed my career path when the opportunity came to get into distilling.
I loved science throughout school; understanding how and why things work, so going into the sciences was a logical move for me. However, I had always wanted to be a chef playing with flavours and creating new things.
Once I realised that distilling is the perfect mix between creating flavours whilst applying the physical and chemical sciences I knew it was the right path for me.
How did you become a distiller?
There wasn’t a defining moment, but I had decided that I wasn’t going to continue with hematology research and study at about the same time as my father decided to quit his job and get into distilling. As a family we have always had a fascination with gin, food, wine, beer so I joined forces with my father and we started the journey together from scratch.
What is the best thing about your job?
There are two things that tie for being the best:
Creating new products and seeing people enjoy them here in the distillery bar or seeing photos of people drinking them at home with friends, it’s really special.
The second would be becoming a part of such a welcoming and supportive community. The craft distilling community in Australia and also the world, is such an amazing bunch of talented, friendly and helpful people all willing to share and inspire each other, it is truly an amazing environment.
What is the most challenging thing about distilling gin?
Introducing new products to people that I have put so much time into, is something I find incredibly daunting and stressful. It is not my comfort zone, but I do like watching them interact with the gins. The truth is I am most comfortable creating, but I understand that craft is also about the people who make the products and I am working on that side of things.
How did your choose which botanicals to use?
I have always been fascinated by flavours and how they interact. So it is was a natural progression to do my masters project on how native Australian botanicals can be used in gin. Through my studies I learnt a lot about the chemical make-up of many of them and this helped me choose complimentary native and traditional botanicals and also with getting the ratios right to achieve the flavor profiles I want.
Both myself and my father have always been foodies so are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to use different ingredients in cooking, and making gin is no different. The second we come across something different and exciting, we try to find a way to distill it!
Who/what inspires you?
We have met so many incredible and inspirational people in the industry over the last 3 years, all of whom have been incredibly influential to us along our journey. But really it is my Mum (Gilly – whom I named my still after). She is my biggest inspiration, the human embodiment of ‘The little engine that could’ and is truly incredible.
Your favourite gin cocktail and why?
It’s a tough tie between a Martini and a Negroni.
Gin and vermouth have always been best friends, so these two classics have always been my go-to.
Which are your favourite bars (anywhere in the world).
That’s so tricky. I don’t have a favorite in Melbourne … yet… so many good ones.
When I visited Edinburgh I went to a really fantastic speakeasy style bar called ‘The Last Word Saloon‘ which was fantastic, amazing cocktails and beautiful décor.
Another favourite of mine in Auckland would be ‘Caretaker’.
We have a few things up our sleeves for the near future and we will be sure to let you know when we are ready to make some noise.
Brogan’s Way distillery is open:
Wednesday 5pm to 10 pm
Friday 5pm to 11pm
Saturday 3:30pm to 11pm
Sunday 2:00pm to 7pm
You can purchase takeaway bottle sales Monday to Friday between 1pm and 5pm.
This morning we woke to the news that Never Never Distilling Company had won the trophy for Best Classic Gin at the World Gin Awards for their Southern Strength gin.
Long time readers know I fan girl about this gin ALL THE TIME. If you need a quick catch up, you can read about Never Never Distilling Co. here and here.
While many Australian gins have won medals in this competition, it is the first time an Australian gin has taken out an overall award.
As you can imagine, this is a hotly contested category. Indeed, one of the most awarded gins in the world, Tanqueray 10 was representing the UK. I’m unfamiliar with the other gins that made it through to the final, as nearly all them are unavailable in Australia, but you can see the full list here.
I spoke to Sean Baxter (sales and marketing) first thing this morning and it was clear the news was yet to sink in. Instead we scheduled an interview with the whole team this afternoon, where they chatted with me about their incredible news.
(from left to right; George, Sean and Tim)
How did you feel looking at the shortlist?
Tim: I was honored we even made it onto the shortlist winning Australia’s Best Classic Gin. As a very young distillery, picking up world’s best anything was a little far-fetched in my mind.
George: I’m so happy that other people have enjoyed something we always had real clarity about it.
Sean: It was a little emotional for me seeing our gin alongside Tanqueray 10. It’s even in the San Francisco Spirits Awards Hall of Fame, because it won so many times. Being the Aussie representative in that category was pretty special.
Did you have any inkling Southern Strength gin was going to win?
Tim: It’s so rare to see Tanqueray in any competition. I admit hadn’t tried the other gins on the list, but seeing Tanqueray was daunting so I expected to see them to win.
George: Looking back over previous years, the bench mark is very high and some award winner, like Hernö are just so iconic, it was hard to believe we were in the running.
Sean: I honestly thought Tanqueray 10 would win, but thought we had good chance.
What was your reaction when you first heard the news?
Sean: We were all following along on twitter and had friends in the audience who were messaging us, so it was pretty exciting.
Tim: – I initially went very quiet. I felt complete shock and disbelief. Then I remembered that Sean’s lost a bet with me. He now has to wear a T- shirt with my face on it for 7 days at various locations. Then I tried to explain to my son Hugo what had happened. He really didn’t get it, so we went outside and threw water balloons instead. So that was pretty cool.
George: I was just overwhelmed at the love for the brand that we’ve all poured our souls into. We are still such a tiny business, it’s incredible to see it develop so quickly in this way.
Sean– I was literally stunned. Then there was so much swearing that my wife Cassie thought something truly terrible had happened. Southern Strength is probably my favourite of our three gins, savoury, rich oily, resinous, and delicious. I love it. To see it celebrated globally is really something else.
What will this award mean for Never Never Distilling Co. going forward?
Tim: Southern Strength has always been like the middle child and is often overlooked within our range, so I am hoping more people will try it out.
George: I think it will be hard for larger retailers to ignore us after this.
Sean: Southern Strength gin was created with the bartender in mind. It has a higher ABV and works so well in cocktails. I hope this award will bring more consumers to try Southern Strength, and maybe retailers and bars who might only pick one of our three gins to sell.
What are Never Never’s immediate plans?
Tim: Making sure we have enough stock!
George: We’ll maintain our drive to create awareness around our gins.
Sean: We’re excited about pop-up as part of the Adelaide Fringe. Every Sunday for the next four weeks, we’re running gin flights, tastings, master classes, serving amazing cocktails, and hosting a gin-shop. at the Stag Public House. We’ll be there from 1pm to 8pm. Tickets are available here.
Why Tiny Bear Distillery? Well, the distillery is tiny (indeed, one of the smallest I’ve visited – Never Never Distilling Co. is smaller) and at the time Damien sported a huge bushy beard, which gave him a bear-like appearance!
As a former biochemist and teacher, simply buying in neutral grain spirit didn’t really appeal to Damien. Instead, he experimented with different vegetables to see if he could produce his own neutral base on which to build his recipe. Lots of trial and error issued, until finally he settled on using Kale.
Locally grown kale is mixed with a sugar wash , fermented then distilled before being “stripped” through the 6 plates in the column of Damien’s still to create a neutral base. In my opinion, the results are amazing, with none of the congeners apparent in some gins where the base spirit has been made in a pot still.
A 6 plate copper column still built in Ballarat by the same still-maker that made Fossey’s and Ambleside Distillers stills.
The Tiny Bear Distillery gins
There are 3 gins in the core range, but Damien has also been busy creating collaborative gins with local bars and restaurants.
He has eschewed the use of native botanicals in these gins, but has not ruled out using them in the future. Each gin is 100% vapour-infused.
The Doctor 42%, ABV $75 700ml.
This is a herbaceous gin, packed with interesting flavours. Damien has used juniper, coriander, dill, basil, Vietnamese mint, sage, liquorice root, cinnamon, and hibiscus.
A deliciously smooth Navy Strength, made with juniper, coriander, orange, clove and cardamom. It delivers a nice, punchy flavour. Clove can be notoriously difficult to work with – it can overpower, but Damien has handled it well.
Damien has done as great job establishing his distillery in such a small space, but has managed to create a welcoming cellar door with regular gin classes. while he is experimenting with whisky, gin will always be his first priority.
Tiny Bear distillery is open Monday – Friday : 10am – 5pm (no booking required) and on selected dates at the weekend.