What is the history of gin in Australia?
Luke says that "Australia has a pretty cool history of gin. It’s only in the last decade that it’s exploded, with a lot of distilleries in Tasmania and spreading from there with a good batch of really passionate, wonderful people.
Ryan adds that "The history of gin in Australia is very short. Up until only 10 years ago Australian distillery laws were quite difficult mainly due to the government not understanding distilling and its safety concerns. Since then the government has been a lot more accommodating in helping new distilleries understand their requirements and as a result there has been a boom of over 100 distilleries up from only 6 distilleries 10 years ago."
What is the Australian gin industry like now?
Ryan writes "In Australia every distillery is producing a minimum of one Gin style. Even the Whiskey purest distilleries are happy to produce a gin under their label or own a second brand that produces their Gin. Gin is that product that is so creative that it's hard for a distillery to avoid producing."
"On top of this the Australian heat has created a palate that prefers refreshing drinks more so than sweet, so Gin and Tonic is a great answer to this need. We also see this trend in the Australian beer market where more and more beer companies are producing Sour style beers because they are more refreshing."
What's behind the rapid growth of gin in Australia?
From the view of distillers, Luke explains "I think there’s a lot of people wanting to make darker spirits and it’s stemmed from people having to wait for that and people have created these delicious gins that they can sell much quicker than barrel aged spirits"
"I think gin is doing so well in Australia because people are really taking advantage of all the amazing Australian botanicals we’ve got and different fruits, like bush tomato, Davidson's plum and lemon myrtle. People are really trying to use what is local to them and that’s what makes Australian gins different and popular."
In terms of consumers, Ryan says that "Up until recently the Australian drink focus had really been beer, wine and cider. Gin and tonic as a drink is very refreshing which suits the Australia environment. Because of the heat in Australia most people are looking for a refreshing drink, just like with quality, refreshing Cider (as opposed to sweet cider) which had a boom 8 years ago as people moved away from beer."
"Australians are becoming more health conscious too, so most want to stay away from carbohydrate-based alcohol and are moving to something more refreshing and more healthy, which Gin helps to accommodate. On top of this, with almost every Gin being different to each other, the Australian public is still excited to try different gins, as well as different cocktails, with different garnishes and new syrup tinctures."
Do Australian gins have a distinctive style?
Ryan recalls that "In the early days of Gin development in Australia, most distilleries kept their creations fairly traditional in the London Dry style. As time has progressed, more and more distilleries are trying to move away from the European style botanicals and focus on the beautiful Australian native species to create true terroir style Gins. You will find a lot of Lemon Myrtle in a lot of Australian Gins, and ingredients like, Finger Limes, Tasmanian pepper berries, and a range of fantastic Myrtles are prevalent."
Which Australian gins should international gin lovers get their hands on first?
Luke says "For sure Granddad Jack’s Gin! We make 3 pretty distinct gins. We have won a gold medal for our juniper-only gin ‘Two Pencils Gin’, but our '65 Miles Gin' stands out as something that’s truly different – it’s got a nice bit of spice. Other stand out gins in Australia include McHenry’s Gin in Tasmania. In Perth and Adelaide there are plenty of distilleries, so if you get around any of the small bars there you’ll find some gems for sure."
Ryan follows suit and writes "Of course I am going to be biased and recommend my Hartshorn Sheep Whey Gin first! My Gin is predominantly focused on Australian native species with the two main botanicals never being used in any other gin before. Those two secret botanicals are an Australian native Flower and a native sweet grass. Besides my gin I would recommend the companies 'Poor Tom', 'Distillery Botanica', 'Apothecary Gin' and 'Taylor and Smith Distilling Co'."
How do people like to serve gin in Australia?
Ryan explains that "Australia is always about 12 months behind the trends of the UK. G&T’s are almost outdated and people are wanting to see gin used in more interesting but still refreshing cocktails. Quality bars are now matching specific garnishes to suit each gin's botanical mix and are developing certain syrups and traditional tinctures to complete the whole cocktail's botanical story."
Luke adds that "classic G&Ts are everywhere and people try and garnish them with Australian botanicals like lemon myrtle and finger limes."
Which gin events, festivals and gin bars in Australia would you recommend?
Luke and Ryan both pick out 'Junipalooza’ in Melbourne as one of the best Gin shows. And Ryan also notes that 'Ginuary' as the best one in Tasmania.
Ryan recommends the following gin bars:
Where do you see the Australian gin industry going next?
Ryan says "I believe delicate high-quality gins suited to drinking neat or as Martinis are the future. That is how I have designed my Gin and I believe there are not enough Gins in this space and it is an area worth improving. We also don’t have many large scale gin companies that are exporting out of Australia so there is room for more large scale gins at low prices to come into the market."
Luke believes that "Australian gin is heading in the upwards trend for sure. In the last 7 years its gone from having less than 10 gin distilleries in Australia to over 200 distilleries now Australia-wide, so it’s pretty special that’s happened that fast. In the last 12 months there’s been about 5 new distilleries opening every 2 weeks, so it’s pretty crazy and I think it will keep heading in that direction."
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