Price: $80 /700 mL
Distiller: Mt. Uncle Distillery
Origin: North Queensland, Australia
Availability: Australia [buy online here]
Rating: There’s so much intrigue in here, it’s hard to know where to start. I love peeling back the layers of flavor here, especially in that it plays with our expectation of gin, taking native Australian ingredients which parallel the common set of gin ingredients. Instead of Anise, how about a Myrtle which approximates that? Mint for River Mint, Lime for Finger Lime, etc. Fans of contemporary gin will like this spirit as far as their love for spearmint and menthol-aromas will take them. Fans of classic gin will likely find this to be among the louder strain of gins which eschew ties to the London Dry tradition for something else altogether. I recommend it as a curiosity, but also as a good gin for the right kind of refreshing summer cocktail that needs that extra mint kick. [Rating:3.5/5]
Firstly, a special thanks to my friend Katie who picked me up this bottle during her recent trip to Australia! Thank you!
Botanic Australis in <100 Words
The name itself tells you what you need to know: this gin is a tribute to the flora of Australia. In addition to Juniper, you see a couple of more common Australian botanicals. Wattle Seed and Tasmanian Pepper-berry have appeared in a handful of gins in the past couple years. The Anise Myrtle is not actually a type of anise, but the aromatic molecules are similar. The finger lime is a developing commercial crop native to Australia. The fruits are about the size of a cocktail wiener, and have been described as “gourmet bush-food.” Three types of Eucalyptus are here as well, but my favorite might be the bunya nut. Bunya trees can grow over 100 feet in height, and the Bunya Nuts themselves can be as large as a foot in diameter and 25 pounds in weight! In Australia even the pine cones can kill you*!
The Botanist Is In
There’s way too many exciting things in here to cover any one too closely. Here’s a brief overview of what I missed in the “way more than 100 words” summary above:
Cinnamon Myrtle a.k.a Neverbreak a.k.a IronWood – savory, confectionery herb often used in tea. “Spicy Cinnamon” flavor, often served with Lemon Myrtle as well.
Lemon Myrtle – One blog devoted to bush food describes it as “a fresh fragrance of creamy lemon and lime.” Its used in everything from soap to sorbet and even fish.
River Mint a.k.a. “this rambling mint bush.” – Growing along disturbed creeks and rivers, this opportunistic plant thrives in alluvial floodplains. It tastes like spearmint and makes great mint jellies.
Lilly Pilly a.k.a Riberry a.k.a Cherry Alder – Lilly Pilly is used to describe several different small berry fruits, though the one that appears in this gin is from an ornamental, rain forest trees. The berries appear in bright clusters, akin to grapes on the vine. The fruits themselves taste like a cross between cranberry and cloves.
Alpiinia Caerula a.k.a Native Ginger – The small shoots of the plant are said to taste like ginger and are used as a local substitute.
Noticeably mint on the nose, with an herbal/fruitiness. Something like a cross between basil and lemon verbena? Eucalyptus seems the clearest note to me, but there’s hints of anise, peppermint, and fresh greenery.
The spirit itself though is unfortunately rather thin in terms of texture. The palate barely whispers on the tip on the tongue, as the spice which comes out seems to spread from the back on out, lighting the mouth with flavor from the the throat forward. Sweet and somewhat nutty, the main affect of the palate is efflorescent Eucalyptus leaves. Pine and herbaceous, green juniper are present albeit in a more muted expression. The late palate is full of spearmint, which lasts. The finish is primarily minty and actually is quite long lasting.
The Gin and Tonic was bright and full of minty notes. Crisp and clean with a long peppermint finish.
The Gimlet nicely complemented the taste of the spirit with a fresh citrus counterpoint and lent it a pleasant balance Your mileage may vary though, the overall profile of the drink reminded me of citrus-mint chewing gum.
The Moonlight Cocktail, led with violet candy on the nose, strongly floral on the palate, with parma violets, lemon/lime and mint. The combination of herbal/mint notes are nice, but I think a little bit of juniper-led astringency might have really elevated the cocktail.
Finally, how about a Martini? The herbal vermouth stands out in contradistinction to the mint/herbal notes of the gin. I’m noticing in the cocktails I’m making that there’s a common theme that balance seems to be coming from the combination of other ingredients. The gin has a distinct point of view but I think the balanced 4:1 Martini stands head and shoulders above the spirit neat.
* Others have done their best to inject some sense into this nut fear-mongering, “Well I’m sure they could kill someone, but I reckon they mostly fall down in storms, so the chances are pretty low.” [interview with Adam Grubb from Very Edible Gardens on Bunya Nuts]
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