Our First Gin!
For World Gin Day 2016, we celebrated at The Craft & Co by distilling our first ever gin and inviting guests to an Australian gin tasting and distillery tour…
As well as tasting three Australian Gins; Archie Rose, West Winds, and Four Pillars, each matched to a delicacy from the deli, the crowd were treated to a botanical tasting and gin class by Nick Baxter from Archie Rose Distillery. After a session learning about how our friends make their gin up in Sydney, out distiller then took small groups into our distillery and explained all the details of how we make our gin. More on that later. Everyone got to try the distillate at different times during the run, experiencing how the different botanicals emerge from the distillate at different times.
Then, we drew a bottle or so directly off the still, and stirred some World Gin Day Martinis, the very first drops of The Craft & Co gin to ever be made, and we toasted the vibrant Australian spirit industry!
It all begins with the chef and The Craft & Co team. Lots of discussion about the flavours with our chef Dom Marzano, and what he loves to use when cooking, and how those flavours could be married with traditional London Dry Gin botanicals.
The key herbs and spices that come from the food and philosophy at The Craft & Co are bay leaf, oregano, basil, marjoram, ginger, and some dried leaves from a friend’s chinotto tree. In addition to the flavours of The Craft & Co, we used the traditional gin botanicals of juniper, coriander seed, cassia, orris and angelica root. Add to that mixed grains of paradise, red ginger, clove, nutmeg, lemon verbena and some native Australian lemon myrtle. We have a vibrant palette of flavours to paint a complex gin, still very much in the London Dry style, but looking from London to Collingwood to blend the two traditions together 🙂
With that array of flavours, we started running micro distillations of 2 litres, with various combinations of botanicals to get the perfect ratio. Funnily enough, it didn’t take too long to find our sweet spot! The next stage was to scale up to a commercial 90 litre batch.
Here, we have to thank all the Australian spirit producers who were generous with their knowledge, especially Cam Mackenzie, the distiller of Four Pillars Gin. He took time to come past and show us a few tips and tricks on our still, and shared a lot of his gin knowledge, all of which is invaluable when navigating the tricky business of scaling a small batch recipe up to a commercial run.
With everything planned, it was ready for World Gin Day 2016. This was when we would see for the first time how our recipe translated to full scale production! So, no pressure…
The distillation went perfectly as planned, with the first drops running from the still as our first group were gathered in the distillery. The first flavours were all citrus and juniper. As our groups came through, the juniper flavour kept on roaring out, with plenty of crisp, fresh citrus. As the distillation continued, the base notes from cassia, ginger, nutmeg and clove started to emerge like a shy wild flower in a forest of juniper. Slowly, as the distillation neared the end, the complex floral perfume of the finish of the run emerged and the juniper retired to back seat, while soft citrus kept up a gentle melody in the back.
The response… fantastic!
Our Martinis, stirred with a little Maidenii Australian Vermouth, were crisp, with plenty of punchy juniper, all balanced with notes of ginger, cassia, nutmeg and clove, with a clean bright accent of bay leaf, basil, oregano, and marjoram.
Our final finished gin is zingy citrus, loads of juniper, then a dry peppery palate, like a traditional punchy London style, with gentle floral and herbal accents. We will be bottling in the next few weeks and once ready, we’re having a launch!
Look out for an invite to our tasting and a the chance to be among the 100 people lucky enough to buy a bottle of the first gin distilled at The Craft & Co, right here in Collingwood.
Huge thanks to Cam Mackenzie at Four Pillars, Nick Baxter at Archie Rose, Lucy and Adrian at Hidden Souk, Cam Smith from 3RRR, and The Gin Queen Caroline Childerly for helping us make an awesome gin, and an awesome inaugural event for World Gin Day 2016!!