Gin. It's the perfect summer drink. But with so many new brands on the market, choosing the perfect one is more difficult than it's ever been. Along with Broadsheet's editorial assistant Georgia Booth, I visited the Stillery Bar at the recently opened Intercontinental Hotel in Double Bay to taste a selection of new gins with bar manager Aaron Gaulke.
The Worship Street Whistling Shop Cream Gin, England – RRP $85
Bartender Aaron Gaulke recommends it for a slightly wet martini, commenting that “With its viscosity, cream and toffee notes mixed with the spice and dryness of vermouth, it pairs to give a rich and luscious feel with an elegant, clean finish.”
For me, the nose is heavy with vanilla and fresh cream. Kind of weird, but I like it. Georgia agrees, saying “The palate is viscous and tastes like lemon verbena. Like lemon curd.”
The Cambridge Distillery Japanese Style Gin, England – RRP $140
For Gaulke it’s ideal for a gin and tonic. “Personally, I’d mix this with Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic, [which] is sweeter and light, like lemonade, so it lends complementary elements to the lighter and subtle Japanese botanical notes.”
For Georgia, the flavours are subtle but notably Asian. “It reminds me of a gomae [Japanese spinach] salad.” I find the flavours more discernable. I wouldn’t say it’s subtle, I think there’s a lot going on, with the use of yuzu and shiso as botanicals.
Elephant Gin, Germany – RRP $95
“You know how baby oil isn’t made with babies? Elephant Gin isn’t made with Elephants,” jokes Gaulke. Bad jokes aside, 15 per cent of profits go to two African elephant foundations to support their preservation, so this is a gin with a conscience.
For Georgia and I, the Elephant Gin is robust and spicy on both the nose and palate. I think it smells like pine needles and dry roots, and it could be a little too much for me.
Settlers Artisan Rare Dry Gin, Australia – RRP $72
“Woah, this one is loud,” Georgia beams. “Definitely my favourite so far.” Texturally, it's quite different to other locally produced gins. It’s thick, and almost sweet but kind of fresh at the same time. We both find the use of native saltbush to be a distinct, dominant character. Settlers could definitely be mixed with a tonic like Fentimans. A dry martini with a lemon or orange peel would really open up all the characteristics here.
Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin, Germany – RRP $100
“It really reminds me of drinking riesling from the Mosel … It’s incredible. Citrus and slate-like minerality … the finish is great, long and fruit filled. This is the gin for me,” Georgia says. “It doesn’t coat the mouth like some of the others. It feels more crisp.”
Gaulke suggests using it to mixing a Bijou, White Negroni or a Hanky Panky. “The sweet floral and citrus tones and the underlying bitter components of the gin are exquisitely matched with the complexity of the other components of these drinks.”
Gilt Single Malt Scottish Gin, Scotland – RRP $70
Initially, we're surprised by the nose. This is full-on stuff, pleasant but really rich. Georgia finds a similarity with another spirit, saying it reminds her of tequila, with a sour saltiness to it. After a second taste we both become more fond of the Gilt, though, as it softened into the glass.
For Gaulke this gin works best with robust and yeasty Champagne. “It’s 100 per cent pure barley as the base so that means there’s quite a bit of popcorn and butterscotch … I love this as a great variation for a French 75 or a Death In The Afternoon.”
Greenhook Beach Plum Gin Liquer, USA – RRP $110
Beach plum, which is native to the coastal regions north-east of the USA, is a new flavour for Georgia and I. It's definitely piquant, but a bit too thick and rich for me. “I like it, it’s completely different and has a really nice sweet-and-sour thing going on,” says Georgia, “I could drink this, but just in small amounts.”
Gaulke explains, “Beach plums grow on the East Coast and have a similar flavour profile to sloe berries, but they have a sharp tartness that takes away from the medicinal sweetness usually associated with sloe gins. A great alternative to Aperol in a spritz.”
InterContinental Sydney Double Bay
33 Cross Street, Double Bay
(02) 8388 8388
Luxe Wine and Spirits imports many of these gins mentioned, see luxewinespirits.com.au for more details.