Ounce Gin is created for “hospos (hospitality workers) and home users” and made in a style that stands out when mixed with standard tonic water, says distiller Ty Swan.
Swan and his partners Chris Jones and David Danby have made six batches of Ounce Gin since their first commercial release in November last year, but the idea was in distillation for at least 12 months before that.
The trio met while working together at Hindley Street bar The Apothecary and then spent a year developing their ideas and working on flavours.
“We built our gin by looking at the end product – the way people drink their gin at home and in a bar,” explains Swan, who is now doing a stint at Leigh Street’s Pink Moon Saloon.
“We wanted our gin to stand out in that format – we didn’t want to have to rely on boutique tonics and syrups, so it needed a bit of punch.”
Ounce Gin is classified as a London Dry style, which means it is distilled in a single pot along with all its botanical flavourings, rather than being a blend of individually distilled ingredients.
Basically, gin is made by distilling neutral alcohol with juniper, a spice that comes from the conifer family and is the essential ingredient and primary flavour of the spirit.
“We also add macerated orange peel, crushed coriander seeds, vanilla pods, angelica, black cardamom, ruby red grapefruit, pimentos and two other botanicals that we keep under our hats for mystique,” says Swan.
“If you make blended gin, there can be too much batch variation. We don’t use baskets for the botanicals because the flavours are not as pronounced; we like to cook it all in the kettle. It’s a stylistic choice. We think our gin is similar in style to the Beefeater 24.
Ounce Gin is produced at the old Gumeracha Cold Stores in the Adelaide Hills, where the makers timeshare the space with Applewood Distillery.
The trio is also working on two further products: “An Amaro Montenegro or Campari-style bitter and a Martini-specific gin, similar to Plymouth gin, that doesn’t require the vermouth for depth and mouth-feel – you just drop in the olives and go,” Swan says.
“When you’ve worked in bars, you learn that there are little things that you can do to save on time and on prep – we wouldn’t expect our Martini gin to retail well, but there’s a market in catering for the bar trade.”
Another way they’re trying to get the local gin market on board is by being price competitive with imported gins.
“You can buy good-quality imported gin in bottle shops here for $45 and we retail our gin for $55 on our website. The difference in price is the excise tariffs Australian producers are required to pay,” explains Swan.
“We’re cutting things really fine, so it’s just a matter of getting our volume up.”
But for those who just want to drink gin, Swan gives the following serving instructions: “We believe that mixing two parts tonic (any tonic) and one part gin, with lots of ice and a good wheel of orange (a cross-section slice about 5mm thick) is definitely the easiest approach.”
And if you want to get fancy, he suggests adding flamed orange peel to your gin and tonic instead of a fresh wheel.
“When the flamed peel ignites, the flavour shatters through your drink, adding a really interesting component.”
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