The public love affair with gin shows no signs of abating, and why should it? It’s a spirit that ticks so many boxes: it’s refreshing, delivers bags of flavour, works really well in cocktails and there’s plenty of variety, so whether you like your gins fruity, spicy, herbal or more exotic, there’s likely to be one for you.
The history of Australian gin dates back as recently as the early 1990s, when Bill Lark set up the first distillery in Tasmania for 150 years, overturning more than a century’s worth of prohibition laws in the process. Distillation had been banned by Governor John Franklin in 1838, who had decided that spirits were a bad influence on the local population. The ban was lifted in 1992, and the growth of Australian gin has expanded to encompass more than 150 gin producers in a little over 25 years.
Gin starts off life as plain old neutral grain spirit, but it’s transformed when a myriad of botanicals is added. These generally include the likes of juniper, coriander seed and orange peel, although gin distillers have a vast palette of flavours to draw upon. In Australia, you’ll find a host of indigenous ingredients such as boobialla, bush tomatoes and lemon myrtle that you won’t find in your average bottle of Gordon’s.
Take just two of the award-winning Australian gins from this year’s IWSC. Four Pillars’ Bloody Shiraz Gin is made by steeping Shiraz grapes in its Rare Dry Gin, adding generous berry notes and a touch of cinnamon, while Savoury Allsorts Gin from Seppeltsfield Road Distillers, which goes big on liquorice, aniseed and black pepper.
Freshness and flavour
IWSC judging committee member and author of The World Atlas of Gin Joel Harrison, says: “Australian gins are fast garnering a stellar reputation for their freshness, flavour and innovation. Unsurprisingly for a country that is adept at making great wines and beers, and with a burgeoning distilling scene in whisky, gin has become a focus for those looking to make something a little different, yet still drawing on the terroir of the land.
“Distillers such as Four Pillars stand out globally for their experiments with wines, and their Bloody Shiraz gin has become something of a game-changer in the world of flavoured gins, and a bartenders’ favourite, too. It is this sideways look at gin but with real attention to detail that makes Australia the most exciting emerging gin region around.”
Australian gin has come a long way in a very short time – here’s the pick of the bunch of the best Aussie gins from the 2020 IWSC.