Hear from two experts on distilling gin, and check out 6 great bottles

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Gin is everywhere at the moment. In Australia alone, there’s upwards of 80 craft gins that are being made locally and appearing on back bars across the country, and globally at trade shows like Bar Convent Berlin, it feels like every second bottle you taste has a good whack of the juniperous stuff.

With that in mind we’ve spoken to two gin experts — Natalie Fryar, the head distiller for new Tasmanian gin, Abel Gin Co., and Raj Nagra, the global ambassador for The Bombay Spirits Company who travels the world spreading the gospel of juniper.

We’ve also pulled together six great gins from around the world — from as far afield as Ireland and Germany.

Take a look below.

natalie fryar

Expert No. 1: Natalie Fryar, Head Distiller, Abel Gin Co.

Australia has seen a boom in craft gin production — here we hear from one of Tasmania’s newest gin makers.

What is it about your distillation process that is unique to your brand?
Each botanical element for our Abel Gins is cold soaked in triple distilled grape spirit and distilled separately in our botanics still.  These botanical distillations are then blended back into the final quadruple distilled base grape spirit to ensure consistency of flavour profiles in each batch of gin.  The quadruple  distilled grape spirit gives the gins a lovely round mouth feel.  

Could you speak to the importance of the botanicals you use? How do you maintain consistency of flavour?
Our distinctive Tasmanian botanicals are what make the Abel Gins.  A base of juniper and coriander with a blend of fresh citrus layered on top provides the platform for these native Tasmanian botanicals.  Because we use fresh botanicals for everything from our citrus to the native Tasmanian botanicals we get a bright fresh flavour profile from each element.  Essence Gin has delicate floral characters provided by foraged Tasmanian tea tree blossom and locally sourced rose blossoms.  Quintessence Gin’s spicy richness comes from Tasmanian mountain pepperberries and local kunzea which offers the heady aromatic richness of Cradle Mountain.  These botanicals are seasonal so we harvest and distill them at their aromatic peak to ensure we really capture the Essence and Quintessence of the Tasmanian wilderness.  Rather than blending to a recipe we blend our botanic distillations to a master blend to ensure a consistency of flavour from batch to batch. Years of blending non vintage sparkling wine has given me the palate and skills to ensure this consistency.

What role does juniper play in your gin? What characters are you looking for from juniper as a botanical?
Juniper and its partner coriander are the bedrock of our gins but they provide the platform for other botanicals to shine, it has never been our goal to deliver a juniper heavy London Dry style.  We don’t want people to drown their gins in tonic to make the juniper approachable, we want our gin to be appreciated as much on its own or in delicate cocktails where people can really enjoy these unique and attractive flavour profiles…really, the perfect martini gin is our Quintessence, just needs to be poured in a chilled glass and served with a citrus garnish, we suggest orange zest.

The award-winning distillery, Laverstoke Mill, where Bombay's gins are made.

The award-winning distillery, Laverstoke Mill, where Bombay’s gins are made.

Expert No. 2: Raj Nagra, The Bombay Spirits Company

Here we hear from The Bombay Spirits Company’s global ambassador on what makes their gins unique.

What is it about your distillation process that is unique to your brand?
All Bombay Gins are made using a 100% Vapor Infusion, London Dry Distilled method, which we pioneered in the 1830’s. Unlike many ‘steeped and distilled’ gins, we only add water to the final distillate to dilute to bottling strength, this process is called ‘single-fold’. Our gins deliver harmonious and superior complexity in flavour as a direct result of this process and proprietary botanical recipe.

Bombay Gins are made at our state-of-the-art, double BREEAM accredited, multiple award winning distillery, Laverstoke Mill, incorporating sustainable methods of production like heat recovery from our condensers during production, used to pre-heat the next distillation and our glasshouses.

Could you speak to the importance of the botanicals you use?
Alongside distillation, botanicals are the most important element in gin production. We take our botanicals very seriously, and are the only major gin company to have a dedicated Master of Botanicals, Ivano Tonutti, a master in this field who tracks our botanicals harvests around the world, ensuring the best quality and consistency. He well knows the types of botanicals that are most suited to our vapor infusion distillation process to deliver bright, vibrant flavours. Instead of purchasing botanicals in the open market, Ivano works directly with our dedicated suppliers, helping them forecast up to three years, to ensure consistency. He also supports local communities, shortening supply chains. For example, he works with a local NGO in Ghana to ensure the community are trained in sustainable agriculture.

What role does juniper play in your gin?
Juniper is the most vital ingredient in any gin, and for good reason, as it lends an enormous spectrum of flavor. Our juniper specifically comes from Tuscany, and is supplied by the Pastorini family, who have been harvesting juniper for 200 years. Our Juniper is of the Pine-green spectrum, with engaging, bright, fresh, clean notes of lavender, mint, citrus and fresh cut grass. Our juniper has a direct accord with the other botanicals that make up our recipe which are all viewed in the same way, thanks to our Master of Botanicals.

6 great gins from across the globe

Here’s six great gins from across the globe

Star of Bombay: Using a slow-distillation method, the 10 Bombay botanicals (plus by ambrette seed and bergamot orange peel) undergo greater extraction resulting in a fuller flavoured gin, bottled at 47.5%. Bacardi-Martini

Glendalough Wild Spring Botanical Gin: A seasonal gin from Ireland, it’s made using a base of 11 botanicals — juniper berries, coriander seed, and lemon peel among them — and a selection of botanicals that they’ve found growing around the distillery during Springtime. Rogue Wines

Hendrick’s Gin: Hendrick’s is an emblematic gin of recent times, flying the flag for Scotland. Its addition of rose and cucumber set it apart, along with the eccentric branding and the classic serve of a slice of cucumber in their G&Ts. William Grant & Sons

Abel Gin Co. Essence: Here’s a newcomer to the Aussie scene. One of two gins from The Abel Gin Co. from Tasmania, the Essence is citrusy and floral in character and well-suited to a delicate style of Martini. The Abel Gin Co.

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin: Hailing from the Black Forest in Germany, and employing 47 unique regional botanicals, it’s a complex, satisfying gin.
Baranows Emporium

Prohibition Gin 42%: A citrusy and floral nose, there are characters of blood orange, juniper and pepper on the palate with herbs and vanilla present, leading to a long finish.
Cerbaco