Price: $120 AUD / 700 mL
Distiller: Gidgie Distilleries
Availability: Australia, UK
Rating: If only I had a full bottle of this stuff. The addition of salt is revelatory, especially in a Navy Strength Gin that’s built from the ground up to be great for mixing. Classic in style, it does so by staying true to its native Australian roots, it tastes familiar, but exotic all at the same time. For Gin drinkers, Australia might be as far as you can go away and as close as you can stay all at the same time. Worth seeking out, highly recommended. [Rating:4.5/5]
From the line of gins which has brought you the evocative names The Sabres (40% ABV), The Cutlass (50% ABV), the West Winds kicks it up a notch with the sea-themed (in more than just name) The Broadside. Named for the Naval maneuver, the gin takes liberally from its namesake, and comes out all guns blazing at once. Bottled at 58% ABV [It’s Navy Strength] it draws botanically from the shorts of Australia where Sea Parsley grows and from the sea itself. Salt is among the ingredients.
Sea Parsley is closely related to both Parsley, Celery, and Alexander. Unlike other bushfood, this native Australian plant wasn’t eaten widely until Europeans landed on the continent’s shores and began eating the plant which reminded them of vegetables back home.
It grows in sandy/rocky areas, and often might be partially submerged during high tides, leaves and stems are both eaten. The leaves can give a slightly spicy flavor and are used as a seasoning, while the stems are eaten as a vegetable. For more details on range, the Australian Native Plants Society has a more complete write-up.
You’ll definitely tell something’s heady about this spirit from the nose, the high proof is evident. So look for those notes with caution and don’t blow out your olfactory sense by going to deep right away.
Pleasant classic style nose, with juniper up front, but a touch of violet/rose, floral creaminess underneath. A closer look perhaps suggests maybe coriander is some component of it, but then on the very next nose I get violets and vanilla.
And get this, as you let it warm and those top floral notes and juniper tones depart a bit, there’s an interesting vegetal note lurking back there as well. A lot is coming through on this nose with some surprises that await the patient sipper…
The palate is certainly a roar. Neat, the heat is unmistakable. But it’s oddly briny, with juniper at the fore, but it burns out just around the mid-point as the spirit’s epicenter moves into the back of your throat, you get some coriander and then vegetal/herbal notes as well. In fact, the finish seems to have this interesting sweet/spicy note that I’ve only really tasted in Australian Gins. [It’s in Botanic Australis () as well] It’s this somewhat slightly anise-y flavor that reminds me a bit of potentially wattle seeds or anise myrtle. Those of you really intimately familiar with the expression of each native Australian botanical, please forgive my amateur fumbling through these notes. It tastes familiar, but unusual all at the same time. The finish has a slight menthol, eucalyptus/mint lift.
The finish is long and harsh (neat, remember) with a lot of heat. The overall quality of the spirit itself is high with a nice mouthfeel a rich texture.
It certainly is built for mixing, and it does some of its best work with something as simple as Tonic or in a Negroni, But I think what might perhaps be the most compelling part of this gin’s offering in cocktails is that touch of salt. That briny, salty flavor, is something that skilled cocktails craftsmen and women are able to put to work expertly in drinks. Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence is a fantastic book that will transform your thinking about cocktail-craft in general, but also share some insight as to why that touch of salt in here might be the most revelatory component. It’s subtle, and although perhaps suggestive, it may be elevating your cocktails behind the scenes without being too obvious about it…
Anyway, this is a fantastic Navy Strength Gin that embodies a sense of place, while doing something traditional, that’s wholly its own. Impressive on a whole lot of levels, and worth seeking out.
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