Plant Life Balance

Gin – a botanical resurgence we’re deeply grateful for

While Australia is not known for gin, we think it will be soon. And quite frankly, we’re beyond stoked!

Gin is freaking delicious so it’s hardly surprising that it’s enjoying a strong resurgence both in Australia and overseas.

This resurgence is based on new botanical flavours coming out of craft distilleries eager to offer something unique, especially in Australia where laws around the process of making alcohol are less restrictive – think scotch and Scotland, champagne and France, or Italy’s DOC and DOCG certifications. The other factor in the rise of Aussie gins is our incredible native botanical ingredients that are becoming more commercially available, providing a wide variety of unique flavours suited to distillation.

One of our favourite local gins is Melbourne’s Patient Wolf. Tired of working corporate gigs, Dave and Matt from Patient Wolf were sipping on gin and tonics one day and decided to begin experimenting with distilling their own.

When we were in our testing phase, we went through about 80 or 90 botanicals including native myrtles like aniseed, lemon, strawberry, cinnamon and honey myrtle.

Then there were the gums – strawberry gums and a number of others. Then there was Kakadu plum. We tried wattleseed. Finger limes. We tried a whole bunch of things.”

Dave explains that gin is basically flavoured vodka and that historically, gin was born out of disguising the flavour of low-rent liquor by steeping it in juniper berries. Back in the day (we’re talking 1700s) London distilleries were located on the Thames for access to cold water, essential to the distilling process. Exotic spices and herbs from around the world would be transported to London via the river and local distilleries would swoop on the new ingredients to flavour their booze.

“The botanicals are supremely important,” Says Dave. “In Australia, we’re so lucky to have the different ingredients we can experiment with. The only issue is, when do you stop?”

The most famous gin of all, London Dry Gin, came out of this process of experimentation on the Thames and is primarily flavoured by juniper berries – a conifer, providing a piney flavour – and a combination of lemon peel and coriander seeds for citrus notes. Patient Wolf add their own touch to make their Melbourne Dry Gin uniquely Australian.

“The majority of the citrus is ruby grapefruit with some fresh orange, so you have this fresh bitter, sweet and sour flavours all at the same time. Under that, you start to get layers of pine from the juniper we put in. Then we add an earthy flavour from the native aniseed myrtle. Then we use some orris root which is the dried bulb of the iris flower and that gives it this lavender/violet endnote.”

“One thing we’ve found is that people are drinking less, but they’re drinking better,” says Dave – a good indication that the Australian palate is becoming more refined as gins (and other non-alcoholic botanical beverages like Seed Lip) grow in quality and popularity.

Fanatical about botanicals? Check out our new Bush Tucker Trail look in the Plant Life Balance app. You can also read “The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart to learn more about why good booze tastes so good.

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