Young Henrys has delved into the world of distilling. This is on top of taking over Sydney’s beer market one tap at a time, and launching its own one-day music festival. The first spirit to be released from the “Newtown Knuckleheads” is not an average London Dry gin, either.
Young Henrys is known for playing with words as well as booze, and so it’s within character for head brewer, Richard Adamson, to have neatly named the soon-to-be-released Young Henrys Noble Cut as the first grain-to-glass (or as described by Adamson as “grain to brain”) gin to be produced in Australia. Previous beer brews have gone by the labels Brew Am I (a collaboration with band You Am I), Brew Tang Clam (a clam stout made while listening to the Wu Tang Clan) and Hop Van Damme: Double Impact (a double hop and malt version of its regular Hop Ale).
Reaching under the counter for a growler of gin, Adamson explains. “In the case of a lot of other gin brands, the base spirit is bought in, and it’s only the aromatics that are distilled in Australia.” Young Henrys is distilling its own spirit using barley. The custom copper still being used was sourced from an eighth-generation bootlegger in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.
The connection between beer and gin may not be immediately obvious. But Adamson reckons, “Pretty much every brewer drinks gin when they get sick of beer.” In the case of Young Henrys, the brewer’s influence might be easy to spot in the end product because the dominant botanical used in the gin is the same hops used in most Young Henrys beers.
The Noble Cut is styled as a London Dry, so of the approximately 15 botanicals in it, many would be familiar to those who fancy an afternoon G&T; juniper, coriander, cassia bark and angelica root. Other less-common botanicals used include bush tomato, pepper berry and cáscara (the ‘cherry’ of the coffee plant) sourced by Toby’s Estate.
We sampled the The Noble Cut both neat and mixed with tonic. The robust base of the hops is distinct, but not overpowering. It’s a damn fine drink either way, but probably better suited to mixing rather than a dry gin martini. It definitely holds its ground against other locally produced gins such as Melbourne Gin Company, Four Pillars and Westwinds.
Young Henrys is currently also working on a “white whiskey”, which is an un-aged whiskey bottled straight from the still. White whiskeys can be very tasty and what many young start-up whiskey producers release first to generate cash flow. As yet there are no plans to increase the range beyond these, although eventually a navy-strength gin (must clock in at 57 per cent) may be released once Young Henrys learns the ropes.
The Noble Cut is available for pre-order from March 9 through younghenrys.com/gin. The gin will be launched in venues from April 2.