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Australian Craft Spirits You Need to Discover

By Kaddy Crew posted 03-01-2022 04:00 PM


Gone are the days when the ‘top shelf’ was a handful of global Scotch whisky names and a bottle of Grey Goose.

Now, fuelled by an explosion in craft distillers the goalposts have changed. The expectation is that stores and venues will showcase more, and dive deeper into what’s possible, whether that’s an expansive London gin collection, or an aperitif range that goes beyond Pernod. What’s most heartening is that the spirits boom is not confined to international producers.

The Australian Distillers Association (ADA) noted recently that in five years the number of distillers had grown from 75 to more than 300. And they’re not just the usual Syd/Mel ventures either, with two-thirds located outside major cities.

It starts with some simple collaborations. Take the excellent Balcombe Coastal Gin for example, which is made by Mornington Peninsula winemakers Barney & Cam from Garagiste alongside the team from Melbourne’s Craft & Co. distillery. This classy gin features locally foraged botanicals (including local kelp), and is inspired by the spice aromatics the boys like in their Pinot Noir.

Or maybe you’ve probably tried the Økar Island Bitter Amaro from wine/distilling power couple Brendan & Laura Carter using native currants and fingers limes. But have you sampled their Unico Zelo Mando, made using fresh Riverland Dekopon mandarins?

Speaking of fruits, we can’t go past Old Young’s Pavlova Vodka. Made by 2017 & 2018 Distiller of the Year James Young, this sees vodka with a meringue base and a summer fruit infusion (that is perfect with cranberry juice).

Of course, it’s not all dessert spirits. The new Poor Toms Strawberry Gin taps into the rampant pink gin fad, yet it’s bone dry. Made with fresh strawberries, young ginger and hibiscus flowers, it’s a drop-dead delicious gin that you’ll be hiding from customers.

Fittingly, this gin is also the key component for the new, eminently drinkable Poor Toms Negroni Spritz Cans, which finally present as an-all Australian negroni, in an ultra-convenient, and frankly addictive, 250ml can.