G’day guys, Malt Liquor Mitch here with another first for the site. The first gin on the site. Something I’ve been saving until I could start with this bottle. A real top shelf, Australian distilled premium gin.
Tucked away on the outskirts of town is a secluded little patch of almost untouched bushland. Teddington it’s called. A picturesque area of scrub, that is disturbed only by the thin strip of bitumen running through it across the creek, in front of the weir, connecting the vast plots of sugarcane crops either side. A thick concrete weir surrounded by rocks and steep banks either side. In the drier months of the year, the pool of freshwater constrained between the wall of the weir and the road grows stagnant with algae. But after a welcomed downpour, the weir overflows with a torrent of water. Flooding the road and sending foam up into the air and down the creek. Australian Bass apparently are caught there in these times of plenty, I only know because of conversations I overhear and advice I’m given in fishing shops. For all my attempts I still have yet to catch one there. A few years ago I was attending a course and working a job groundskeeping at a soccer ground simultaneously, I’d be texted every so often by my supervisor to not bother to turn up to work that day due to the rain, and the tractor would just get bogged. But whenever I wasn’t working there I was expected to attend the course. I say course, all we were doing was providing a nursery with free labor, I never learned a damn thing. Instead of admitting that work was cancelled, I would simply don my high-vis work clothes and go to Teddington to go fishing until I was expected to be done. I bought a Berkley telescopic fishing rod, a tiny little Okuma reel with eight pound Spiderwire braided line, rigged it up with a freshwater frog lure, and I put it in a bag and stowed it in the back of my car for when this happened. It sounds irresponsible to just wag a course like that, but it was a waste of an entire year of my life. I remember thinking it was a con and I should quit to do something better, and I was right. But I loved sitting out there on the bank of the creek flicking lures, angling for a bass as the birds and the cicadas sang in the trees on the opposite bank as the creek flowed past. I never caught a thing, but I kept going back because it was such a nice place to be. And what I’ll always remember when I’m driving through that bushland is the musty thick smell of the bush. The old familiar smell of the hot Queensland sun baking the eucalypts and the paperbarks that you breathed in as I walked the track through the bush to the creek. And aromatics is what gin is all about.
Me and my site have had nothing to do with gin until now, but I think I can remedy that right here and now. All I know at this point is that it is an aromatic spirit, distilled from juniper berries. Well, at least that was my understanding, that’s not the case. Apparently, gin and vodka are not in fact two completely different animals. More like siblings – Gin, originating from the old medicinal substance jenever from Holland, adapted by the English. The Dutch used it for a fair few medical applications, including most notably, to calm the Dutch soldiers before battle in the middle ages. This sort of medieval logic for medicinal substances is not uncommon by any means. Eaux-de-vie was another potent white spirit that was claimed to be a curer of ailments. It tastes good, and makes me feel better, so it must be medicinal. By that logic, I deem Irish whiskey an effective antidepressant. By the seventeenth century, the English gin industry was well established. Apart from the common base flavoring of juniper berries, many varieties of botanicals, spices, herbal, fruit and floral ingredients are added to create the intended aromatic. These ingredients are not the product from which are cooked in any way, nor fermented. These are all merely the flavoring ingredients, lending their infusions to a neutral spirit. The ingredients are tossed into an awaiting still, and the wash is distilled while containing the aromatics. Sealing in the character imparted by the sum ingredients, purified into a seamless spirit. At this point after the distillation, the label can infuse or blend the gin a final time with other aromatics or ingredients. To sum up, a white spirit distilled intended to contain as much of a nose as it does a taste, if not more.
So, given the craftsmanship exhibited by the creation of such a product, I’m glad to see that there’s quite a few Australian labels under this heading. This one in particular, Archie Rose, I first came across at a tasting. I tasted this bottle, their Bush bottle in their Summer Creations line, as well as their Coastal bottle. I preferred the Bush edition, but that’s just me. Fishermen and general beachgoers may well prefer their Coastal bottle, you can take a wild stab in the dark what sort of aromatics that would possess. But in digging a little deeper, I learnt the label doesn’t only distill gin, they also make a line of rye whiskeys and vodkas. This label doesn’t skimp with the distilling. So obviously, they take their spirits seriously. Not surprising, when you consider these bottles, their Bush and Coastal Summer Creations, retail at a not at all wallet-friendly ninety eight dollars Australian.
The bottle itself, or either the liquor inside, at this point before it’s uncorked it’s impossible to tell, are an appropriate forest green, befitting of the bottle. The label, adorned affectionately with a painting of a landscape of an Australian bushland. With a scene of a red dirt hill leading down to a vibrant green display of flowers, perhaps a clue to the aromatics contained within. It even says on the side “Featuring herbal and eucalypt notes that pay tribute to a season that is quintessentially Australian”. And fitted with an elegant cork. And here’s where the craftsmanship comes in, first impressions of the nose upon popping the cork. The gin keeps it’s promise, immediately upon opening the cork, the gin expels a thick carpeting layer of eucalyptus, and a background of citrus zest. A smell that could only ever be replicated by visitation of actual bushland, where such an authentic and ever present smell of eucalyptus trees, both the moist, green leaves that expel thick scent, and the crisp dry leaves carpeting the earth, toasted by the sun. Poured over ice, the gin lets off a more sedate, drier nose. And yep, turns out it was the bottle itself that was green. On the palette, a beautifully herbal taste of eucalypt encompasses all and leaves a spice tingling on the tongue. Tastes of lemon myrtle, citrus zest and a hint of orange rind.
So to summarize: The price tag really does dictate the quality of this gin. Aromatics being the primary objective of gin, this one really captures the character of the great outdoors. It’s a beautifully crafted gin, and brings the bush into your living room better than any nursery ever could. I’d love to say I would recommend people to drink this and to keep one in your liquor cabinet, but at that price, I can’t. But I won’t say it isn’t justified. Great gin. Cheers