After years of anticipation, Adelaide’s Never Never Distilling Co finally opened its distillery door in McLaren Vale in February. The next month it promptly shut due to Covid-19 restrictions.
While the team continues to adapt, brand director Sean Baxter says the closure has also allowed extra time for product development, accelerating the release of a long-planned collaboration with Chalk Hill Wines, which sits on the same property.
“When we moved into Chalk Hill, we knew it was the perfect place for collaboration,” Baxter tells Broadsheet. “When we shut the doors, it gave us the time to focus on Ginache, and we had the opportunity to really hone and perfect the liquid.”
The unique liquor – Never Never is calling it the “world’s first” grenache gin – combines the distillery’s award-winning Triple Juniper Gin with grenache grapes from Chalk Hill’s Slate Creek vineyard. The crushed fruit is steeped with gin at high proof “to extract bold flavour and colour”, says Baxter.
“By doing it this way you get the most cohesive integration between both the gin and fruit. That’s why it has that beautiful cherry luminescence, because it’s on skin for almost a month. We have to do very little to it – the integrity of the fruit and the flavour extracted really speaks for itself.”
The result is a lighter drink than the shiraz gins on the market, he says. “Shiraz is a heavier, darker flavour ... We wanted something more playful, and the flexiblity of grenache is just so suited to our gin – our Triple Juniper has lots of cinnamon and pepperberry complexity, which works with the spicy character of the grape, and the juniper and citrus notes really complement the bright, fruit-driven flavours of grenache.”
It helps that Chalk Hill “makes a belter grenache”, which it’s been producing for generations. It’s also a varietal synonymous with the McLaren Vale region.
The final product has notes of fresh raspberries and lemon balm, and tastes of “strawberry coulis and corner-store [raspberry lollies]”, says Baxter.
While some bars have pre-ordered the Ginache, it’s likely to sell out before they’re all back up and running – just 2500 bottles are being produced. Baxter says the company will save some bottles to sell at the distillery door when it reopens in June.
If you’re planning on snapping up a bottle online ($80 for 500 millilitres), Baxter suggests a few simple ways to enjoy it at home: as a classic G&T, on the rocks, or (his favourite) as a Tom Collins, “which is essentially gin and classic lemonade – all you need is gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water”.