The participants: The Settler’s Liquor Store Tasting Collective (S.L.S.T.C), guided by Bec Cameron from Giniversity.
The mission: Gin tasting
Time: Wednesday night
Place: Reputable Margaret River drinking establishment (upstairs)
Firstly, let me present an excerpt from a work by Big Phil Larkin – poet, librarian, general man-about-town & gin enthusiast:
‘When I drop four cubes of ice
Chimingly in a glass, and add
Three goes of gin, a lemon slice,
And let a ten-ounce tonic void
In foaming gulps until it smothers
Everything else up to the edge,
I lift the lot in private pledge:
He devoted his life to others.’
Is Big Phil lifting a glass to a fallen comrade, a higher power, or just his distiller of choice?
And Larko is far from being the only gin enthusiast possessed enough to produce purple passages of passionate poetry. Back in 1823 the ‘Hot Gin Twist’ was London’s most popular drink. One bloke was so enamoured he wrote a 149-line poem for the newspapers extolling its virtues. Another then wrote a slightly shorter poem extolling both the drink and the previous poem!
This factoid also shows that while gin is a most popular drink at this red-hot minute in time, it also has a rich and lengthy history. For example, in 1721 Britain alone consumed 3.5 million gallons of gin (the population was under 5.5 million)!
(Beware, there may be more factoids)
Yes, gin is a journey – historical, spiritual, metaphysical – and for this particular evening our present-day spirit guide (as well as a distiller of note) was the knowledgeable and most excellent Bec Cameron from Giniversity. She also supplied the booze. Let us proceed…
First cab off the rank was the Giniversity Botanical (Margaret River Distilling Company). A most excellent start. Its pronounced botanicals – Juniper, Sandalwood, Boronia, Lemon Myrtle and Eucalypt – are individually distilled and infused to create a unique and distinctive Native Australian aromatic style. Paired with a Mediterranean tonic, this was an easy to drink little ripper, custom-made for our hot Summer daze.
Next was theGiniversity Barrel Aged (Margaret River Distilling Company). Handcrafted in a single small batch and aged in Margaret River red wine barrels, this accounts for its pinkish hue. Neat with ice and a slice of orange, or lightly mixed with Elderflower tonic, this was a particular crowd fave.
Aye mon, Giniversity Smoked Hemp (Margaret River Distilling Company)! Irie! Like the finest Scottish whisky from the Hebridean Isles, this beautiful drop has notes of smoky peat and seaweed, and just needs some ice, and perhaps even a bay leaf, to delight the palate. Some hear tell that a Brussel Spout garnish wouldn’t go amiss. Well, it is green likesay.
Poor Tom Strawberry Gin (Marrickville, Sydney). This is where fresh strawberries are steeped in the Poor Tom crew’s Sydney Dry Gin – with its botanical ginger and hibiscus flowers – imparting a red hue and delicate and fresh complexity.
Beefeater London Pink Gin (UK). This venerable old distiller has been tizzied up with sweet strawberries-and-cream lolliness. Party time!
4 Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin (Yarra Valley, Vic.). A ‘Sloe gin’ but with Shiraz grapes which are steeped in Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin for around eight weeks. After the process is complete what emerges is a glowing deep cerise, syrupy sweet, complex masterpiece with fine vintage wine characteristics. A gin for the ages!
Husk Distillers Ink Dry Gin (Northern NSW). Blue Ruin: A cool Aussie band from yesteryear (with a gin connection!), and the colour of this particular gin! Made with 13 organic botanicals, it is also the world’s first colour-changing gin. It goes from deep blue to blush pink when mixed. This is entirely due to one of the ingredients: butterfly pea flowers (I believe ‘pea’ is the correct spelling…I may be wrong). There’s a certain chemistry involved but I’ll leave the “Why is it so?” to the likes of Professor Julius Sumner Miller. Damn intriguing and damn good.
Last, but certainly not least, was Suntory’s Roku Gin (Japan). Legendary distillery, quality product. Made using a selection of botanicals, including six Japanese botanicals that provide a journey through the four seasons. These include sakura leaf and sakura flower for Spring, sencha tea and gyokuro tea for Summer, sansho pepper for Autumn and yuzu peel for Winter. Truly a gin for all-seasons!
And there we have it!
For more gin factoids, visit: https://sipsmith.com/50-surprising-gin-facts/
Also thanks to Philip Larkin – one of the greatest poets to ever bestride the Earth – and his poem ‘Sympathy in White Major’.
John ‘Blue Ruin fan-boy’ G. – Settler’s Product Imbiber & Director of In-Store Tasting Observation Studies