It may not say it on our license plates yet, but South Australia has definitely become the gin state and it’s no secret that we’re home to some of the best distillers in the country. It seems like every month there’s a new release coming out and it’s hard to keep track of them all, but here at Glam Adelaide we’ve dedicated ourselves to the task of rounding up and tasting a bunch of the best local gins.
John Lark is the godfather of craft gin in Australia and his distillery door is a must visit on any trip over to Kangaroo Island. As well as helping to launch the gin craze, he was also ahead of the trend in using native botanicals – this one includes native juniper alongside Italian juniper berries. The gin itself has a bit of heat, but it’s not too heavy on the juniper and the balanced flavour has a hint of sweetness that lingers pleasantly.
Serving Suggestion: The Basil & Blackberry Bramble from Howling Owl sounds like a tongue twister, but with Beerenberg blackberry jam and fresh basil topped with soda, it’s more likely to loosen your tongue.
Started by four guys who have been friends since childhood, Red Hen keep things super simple. They have one product, and they do it damn well. This small batch London dry is the quintessential gin. There’s plenty of juniper, but it’s still very smooth and it’s got enough flavour to be interesting without ever being overpowering. It’s also a very forgiving gin if you want to experiment and will go well in almost anything, making it perfect for sharing with a large group.
Serving Suggestion: This really is the gin that will go with anything, so why not try a classic like a martini with a bit of olive brine.
More than any other distillery in South Australia, Applewood is a place that’s willing to try new things. Their signature gin has 25 botanicals and as you’d expect, there’s a lot going on. Though it uses mostly native botanicals like peppermint gum, pepperberry and finger lime, the delicious haze of spice ends up smelling like a Thai kitchen with hints of cloves, kaffir lime, ginger and green cardamom. The result is lots of warmth and flavour, making this the perfect gin to enjoy all through the winter.
Serving Suggestion: Keep it simple with this one as there’s so much flavour and mix with Capi tonic and a cucumber garnish for freshness.
Angove Family Winemakers has historically been associated with wine and brandy, but they’ve put their many years of experience together to craft this gin. Unlike many other SA gins, it uses grain spirit and to keep the gin organic they’ve had to source botanicals from around the world. The gin itself is straightforward and very smooth with just a hint of citrus, making it a versatile spirit that can be used in a variety of drinks. Serving Suggestion: For something very refreshing, try their mint gimlet recipe. https://www.instagram.com/p/BdeceNEgps-/?taken-by=blindtigerorganicgin
Another gin from a larger company (23rd Street Distillery is owned by Bickford’s), this surprise packet comes out of the Riverland and is one of our favourites. The juniper presence is gentle and local mandarin and lime give it a real citrus lift. It’s spicy and sweet, almost like a lemongrass and ginger tea and the result is an elegant, floral and feminine gin that is absolutely delicious
Serving Suggestion: Let the gin shine by mixing it with Fevertree Mediterranean tonic and garnishing with a slice of fresh pink lady apple.
The two brothers behind 36 Short started off making Australia’s first rakia, but have since branched into gin. This spirit is unsurprisingly citrus dominant, but it’s not overpowering and the blood orange really comes through in the oiliness. To balance that, it’s slightly higher in alcohol at 45% and the result is a rich, lightly spiced gin.
Serving Suggestion: A laid-back gin and juice, using freshly squeezed blood orange.
Sacha La Forgia at Adelaide Hills Distillery produces a range of drinks but the flagship product is this gin, which was recognised as the best in the world at last year’s American Distilling Institute Awards. As you’d expect, it uses pure Adelaide hills water and the result is a crisp, clean gin that we could drink all day (and night). It’s beautifully balanced with just a hint of spice and there’s a real length to the flavour, which lingers on the tongue.
Serving Suggestion: Australia’s only estate negroni, using Adelaide Hill’s Distillery’s Bitter Orange amaro and red vermouth.
This navy strength gin packs a serious punch at 56% ABV, but you wouldn’t guess that when you taste it – the grain spirit is very smooth and you’ll need to be careful not to get carried away. The aroma is sweet and lightly spiced, giving off hints of cinnamon toast and the result is surprisingly delicate.
Serving Suggestion: Mix this one with cloudy apple juice over ice and you’ve got apple pie in a glass.
While many other distilleries by their grape spirit in bulk, Settlers spirit comes from grapes grown onsite and they source their botanicals from as close to home as they can. The first thing you’ll notice about this one is the colour – this isn’t a slight blush but a full on pink that’ll lend a beautiful hue to any mixed drink. That colour comes from rose petals and raspberries, and the result is sweet and very light on the juniper with an aroma that gives off hints of creaming soda.
Serving Suggestion: Mix with lemonade for a lovely looking pink lemonade.
Given that most gin uses grape spirit from the Barossa, it’s a surprise that it took so long for a gin distillery to open there. But while these guys were the first, there are plenty of others hot on their heels. The Generations Dry Gin uses botanicals like fennel and anise, as well as some toasted French oak in a nod to the winemaking heritage of the region. You’d think that would soften it out, but this one still hits you in the face and is really hot going down.
Serving Suggestion: Stick with the Barossa theme with a twist on a Tom Collins that uses Maggie Beer verjuice.
Made up at the Glen Ewin Estate, this gin is unlike any other you’re likely to find. The bottle says that it has a “subtle fig aroma” but don’t believe it for a second. This is figs, figs and more figs with a healthy dash of winter spice and the result is sweet, jammy and utterly delicious. At 29% it drinks more like a fortified wine than a gin and this sticky drop is perfect for pairing with cheese after dinner.
Serving Suggestion: If you’re not having it as an after dinner drink, try mixing it with dry ginger ale and garnishing with a thin slice of fig.
At 69%, Prohibition’s Liquor Co.’s Bathtub Cut Gin, inspired by the 1920s underground Gin being produced across the US, is something of a revelation. It’s alcohol percentage in itself isn’t the selling point because, long ago did we give up the idea that stronger was a selling point. What is incredible is the front palate flavors of grapefruit and even a touch of sweetness, followed by the star anise and wormwood taste that lingers after you try it straight.
Ounce Gin (Imperial Measures Distilling)
A Southern Dry Gin, Ounce Gin is a delicious union of boatnicals. Highlighting orange, vanilla, cardamom, juniper, and coriander. Ounce is a characterful dry gin in the style that we’ve grown to know and love. It’s distilled in the Adelaide Hills at the Applewood Distillery by Imperial Measures, and is one of the many demonstrations of how our amazing local spirits work together.
Ambleside Distillery Gin
Gin lovers rejoice! Adelaide’s newest distillery has opened right in time for the summer season. The list of local distillery’s is getting longer and longer and here at Glam we honestly couldn’t be more excited to welcome Ambleside Distillers to the scene. Ambleside Distillers have burst onto the scene with 3 sensational batches of gin each showcasing Trudy, Steve and Matt’s individual tastes. The No 8 Botanical showcases lighter citrus undertones, wile Big Dry provides a huge hit of flavour for those of us who just can’t get enough punch in our gin, and Small Acre which is focused on the use of local Adelaide Hills ingredients.
It’s very obvious that here at Glam Adelaide we love a local gin distiller, and it’s always exciting when they do amazing things on an international stage. Which is why we were pretty excited to discover that SA’s very own Never Never Distilling Co. had been named as the only Australian gin to make the prestigious Top Trending Gin list by Drinks International. The triple Juniper Gin asks, how much juniper is enough? Realises you can never have enough, and comes out with a bright dry gin.
If there’s one thing we love, here at Glam and here in SA, it’s a solid craft gin, and we get rightfully excited everytime a new one is announced. So today was pretty monumental in the office when the boys at LOBO let us in on their latest project, Djinn. Djinn started the way all good spirits do, with the gin-eouses at LOBO thinking about how they could infuse more orchard flavours into their apple schnapps and apple brandy. Turning their attention to an orchard range of Gins, Djinn will be the first cab off the rank.
You can find these and many other gins in good local bottleshops, but if you want to try before you buy, the Tasting Australia Spirits Awards Party on Thursday 19 April is the perfect place. Tickets include 8 tastings as well as a chance to meet the distillers behind some of Australia’s top drops, and you can get them here.