Locally made booze has found a startling foothold in the Australian consciousness of late. Just a decade ago, imported products remained a (supposed) badge of quality. But in 2021, each week seems to herald some new limited edition micro-expression from a local micro-distiller, winery or brewer – and the majority are often excellent. While that influx makes browsing the shelves a little more difficult now, it’s a boon for the consumer. (And those of us looking to make the home liquor cabinet resemble the bars we’re missing in lockdown.)
So, with the festive season soon approaching, we thought it high time to do the rounds of the Broadsheet liquor cabinet and see who’s loving what.
Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin
A years-long collaboration between two top-tier Victorian producers – Four Pillars and Cobram Estate, which specialise in gin and olive oil, respectively – led to this 2020 release. Subtle and not at all briney, the savoury gin is made with rich, cold-pressed olive oil as well as olive-leaf tea. Unsurprisingly, it makes a mean Martini – wet with Sicilian olives and a twist of lemon is my go-to – but it goes just as well in a fail-safe G&T with a sprig of rosemary. (It’s also one of the best-looking bottles in my liquor cabinet.) – Tomas Telegramma, Melbourne editor
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Fixation – Little Ray Hazy IPA.
If you're drinking beer in 2021, you're drinking hazy IPAs. The style emerged in the US about 10 years ago and has risen to become the scene's unchallenged darling. Defined by low bitterness, an opaque body, an almost milky-soft mouthfeel and plenty of fruit-like hop flavours, it's popular for its approachability, but also its scope for creativity and complexity. Where early hazys were quite sweet, with a fruit juice-type pulpiness to them, the best examples today are lighter and more balanced. This one, from Melbourne's Fixation, is in that column, drinking clean and refreshing rather than cloying. It's redolent of citrus, passionfruit, pineapple, mango and agave, thanks to the work of Galaxy – one of Australia's most successful hop varieties – and El Dorado, a juicy American cultivar. Your six-pack is liable to vanish on even a mild warm day.” – Nick Connellan, publications director
Seven Seasons Green Ant Gin
The use of native botanicals is now standard practice among Aussie distillers, but few of these products come from First Nations producers. But Seven Seasons is owned by Larrakia man Daniel Motlop (of Something Wild) and its ingredients are harvested by traditional landowners using sustainable practices. Plus, it makes a mean tipple. Its zingy Green Ant Gin, originally released in collaboration with Adelaide Hills Distillery, is still a winner. The ants (used in the distilling process and added to the bottle) provide a kick of kaffir lime and coriander, boosted with zesty finger lime and balanced with pepper berry, strawberry gum, myrtles and native juniper (boobialla). Keep it simple with a splash of tonic and some finger lime. – Daniela Frangos, editor Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth
Poor Toms’ Imbroglio Amaro
I have big-time respect for the multi-tasking abilities of an amaro. Pour some prosecco over it and call it a spritz; add gin and vermouth for a Negroni, or simply drink on the rocks for a pre-dinner aperitif that'll make you feel tre sophisticated, even if you're still wearing your WFH trackies. Poor Toms' Imbroglio amaro is beautifully herby, zingy on the tongue, and adds a floral, bittersweet edge to a mixed drink. While it's great in cocktails, it's just as at home thrown over some ice for a low-effort, drink-any-time sip. – Che-Marie Trigg, Sydney editor
Lark Hill, Biodynamic Grüner Veltliner
I’m a big fan of the family-run biodynamic Lark Hill winery in Bungendore, in the Canberra vino region. Its grüner veltliner is particularly fresh, vibrant and fragrant. I like to grab it and some oysters, or make spaghetti vongole and pour generous-sized glasses of the white wine and settle in for a long lunch. – Sarah Norris, national editor
Frankland Estate riesling
What if I told you that – quote-unquote – “natural wine” doesn’t have to be about out-there flavours or extreme winemaking techniques? (Even though this school of thought can yield some delicious wines.) And that there are vignerons observing sound grape-growing practices without harping on about it?
Frankland Estate, an organically certified winery in Western Australia’s Great Southern region, is one such operation. For as long as I can remember, the Smith-Cullam family’s riesling has been regarded as a benchmark for the variety in Australia: one sip of this pale straw-coloured wonder – precise, limey, vibrant – and it’s obvious why. – Max Veenhuyzen, Perth editor-at-large
This article is produced in partnership with Dan Murphy’s. Check out their curated selection of 'Aussie Made' drinks that aims to support local makers.