Pink Pepper Gin (500ml, Audemus Spirits, RRP $95)
I am addicted to pepper. There is nothing better than the smell of opening a bag of peppercorns, and this gin does that for me.
Audemus Spirits founder and distiller Miko Abouaf, a fellow Australian, set up shop in Cognac, France, after several years working as a Cognac distiller. The pink peppercorns in his Pink Pepper Gin pack a punch and are balanced with other tasty botanicals like honey, vanilla and cardamom.
It makes for a good mix of sweet and spicy notes all in the one hit. Even if you don’t love pepper, this gin is brilliant.
Pair with: Fever Tree Aromatic tonic (pink label), and, of course, a sprinkle of pink peppercorns (though you do spend the evening politely spitting them out, or delicately chewing them).
Ink Gin (700ml, Husk Distillers, RRP $82)
If you haven’t already tried this, put it on your list. You can’t go past Ink Gin if you want to make an impression.
It gets its insane colour from butterfly pea flowers, and it works like a litmus test. Pour into your glass and you have that rich purple colour; add some citrus and magically it transforms into a beautiful pink right before your eyes.
The gin is super pretty and fantastic for summer, as the citrus notes shine through and freshen you up like a cool breeze on a hot day. It’s made in NSW’s Northern Rivers in the hollow of an old crater.
Pair with: Fever Tree Mediterranean (blue label) and fresh lime.
Green Ant Gin (700ml, Adelaide Hills Distillery, RRP $105)
Don’t let the floating dead ants in this one put you off. It’s a stunner, and if you are partial to a Gimlet (gin and fresh lime balanced with a little sweetness), there is no better gin.
Green Ant Gin really pushes the bright citrus notes to a whole new level, combining the bright zestiness of green ants with a swag of native botanicals including finger lime, lemon myrtle, boobiala (native juniper), strawberry gum and pepper berry.
Yes, the dead ants will have people talking, but it’s the flavours that will have them swooning.
Pair with: Fever Tree Mediterranean (blue label).
78˚ Sunset Gin (700ml, Adelaide Hills Distillery, RRP $80)
Ahhh, I hear you say, he has been taken by the scourge of pink gins! And yes, to tell the truth, I had written this off before tasting – I was too scarred by the likes of the Beefeater pink gin and wasn’t inclined to give anything else a chance.
But I have enormous respect for Sacha La Forgia from Adelaide Hills Distillery, so I thought it deserved a chance… and that is how my mind was changed. The 78˚ Sunset Gin is a very cleverly put-together gin utilising rosella hibiscus for floral notes, with hints of raspberry and plumb, bush apple and strawberry gum.
Goes best in: A French 75 cocktail, although it’s also fabulous as a G&T with enough juniper punch to hold its own.
Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice Gin (700ml, William Grant, RRP $89)
Hendrick’s really inspires devotion from gin lovers – after all, it did popularise cucumber in gin, so it goes without saying the distillery is a master of the “subtle”.
This spirit is no different. It’s almost like a pink gin but without the pink. Lower on juniper, but with an explosion of raspberries, chamomile and orange blossom, grapefruit, irises and black currant.
Pair with: This is smashing with Capi Grapefruit Soda, dehydrated strawberries and fresh lime.
Side note: Hendrick’s Gin will present their range for tasting at the next Pouring Ribbons tasting club for women on February 5 at Hains & Co.
Raspberry Garden Gin (500ml, Knocklofty, Tasmania, RRP $70)
Tassie has been at the forefront of Australia’s new-wave booming distilling industry, and this craft producer heralds from the foothills of Knocklofty.
It is made with seasonal surplus fruit and berries rescued from local gardens. And they’re all organic.
I love that Knocklofty spirits are entirely hand-produced at a home-based micro-distillery and, unlike many gin brands, they make their own ethanol from organic raw sugar.
While it’s similar to a sloe (plum) gin, this one pushes a bright and beautiful raspberry flavour.
Pair with: Bickfords Bitter Lemon, with a little grind of black pepper and rosemary.
Hains & Co, 23 Gilbert Place, is open from 4pm-2am every day. The small bar will celebrate its fifth birthday on February 1 with a “sailor party” that will raise funds to support those affected by SA bushfires.
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