Some distillers begin with grain. Some with a hero botanical or particular flavour in mind, but Michael Hickinbotham used a different starting point. He wanted to craft a gin that evoked the spirit of his hometown. To do that he got in touch with Graham Jones, who has been distilling for more than 30 years and taught many of the current wave of craft distillers at the University of Adelaide.
The pair took inspiration from some local flora, and in addition to juniper and common botanicals such as orris root, cardamom and nutmeg, Adelaide Gin gets flavour from locally grown coriander and Kangaroo Island lavender and rose. The last two in particular add a richness that complements the spice; Hickinbotham describes the result as “a beautiful, balanced and sensual gin”.
It took a full year to work out the recipe (or recipes – Jones came up with more than 40 during the process).
The London Dry gin was distilled in the Frilli Impianti Italian copper pot still at the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory. The name is no coincidence – the laboratory is named after Hickinbotham’s grandfather, who established Australia’s first winemaking course at Roseworthy College.
Local artist Josey Dichiera designed the label, which is emblazoned with a gleaming copper juniper tree. It’s “A nod to the copper that Adelaide settlers built the city’s foundation on, as well as the beautiful Italian copper pot still we use to make the gin,” says Hickinbotham.
He and Jones have also created two other gins, Melbourne and Sydney, with input from team members in those cities.
Adelaide Gin is pouring exclusively at East End Cellars.