This time it has collaborated with Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden. Considering the distillery was founded to create gins inspired by memories of Australian summers, its latest limited-edition gin, called Rather Royal, makes perfect sense.
Distillery Botanica’s master distiller, Philip Moore, took the project on after hearing about a similar collaboration in the UK. “The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and the London Distillery Company joined forces to make their own gin,” says Moore. “I thought it was a good idea to do a similar thing here in Sydney with the gardens’ director of horticulture, Jimmy Turner.” Distillery Botanica has taken botanicals from the Rose Garden and Spring Walk (among other spots) in the garden.
Only 1000 bottles have been created. The gin has several different character notes including juniper, citrus, spice and floral. “I didn’t want to restrict us to one category,” says Moore. “Drinking the gin is like a walk through the Botanic Garden on a warm summer’s day.”
For the savoury juniper element, Moore has used juniper, sage and horehound, and for the florals he has used Pope John Paul II rose, camomile flowers and Murraya flowers. “The citrus note was initially difficult. We couldn’t get fruit from the Botanic Garden because the public picks it all,” Moore says. “Instead we used mandarin leaf, which tastes a lot like mandarin skin, which is what you use to make gin anyway – you don’t use the fruit.” The gin is finished off with curry leaf for spice and orris root for an earthy flavour.
Serve Rather Royal Gin in a Martini or Negroni, or straight up with tonic water. For a garnish, Moore says he can’t go past lemon zest. “I have 30 millilitres of the Royal Botanic gin, 100 millilitres of Fever Tree tonic and a piece of lemon zest about the size of your little finger. And plenty of ice, of course.”
It looks like another collaboration with the Botanic Garden may be in store. “They’re having their 30th birthday celebrations soon, so we have discussed the possibility of making a gin to celebrate, using botanicals from each of the different gardens,” says Moore. “The Blue Mountains has more cold-climate plants, like those in Europe and England, whereas Mount Annan’s botanic garden specialises in Australian and rare plants, so that gin would be more orientated towards Australian plants.”
A sizeable chunk of the profits will go towards conservation projects at the Royal Botanic Garden. Bottles of the aromatic spirit are available for $129 from Distillery Botanic’s website, selected stockists and over the bar at the Botanic Garden Restaurant.