Another field in which we’ve built up a reputation for excellence is in alcohol production (perhaps an unsurprising field of expertise for a nation that’s internationally renowned for our love of booze). Australia has long been respected as a wine producer, but Australian spirits have also begun to garner international recognition – with Australian gin racing ahead of the pack.
Indeed, at the 2020 International Wine and Spirits Awards, a whopping nine Australian gins were awarded gold, with two gins from Kangaroo Island Distillery leading the pack. Other Australian gin brands like Four Pillars, Melbourne Gin Company, Archie Rose and Seppeltsfield Road Distillers are internationally renowned as being top-shelf gins, enjoying a profile that eclipses that of other spirits (although it must be said, we’re pretty good at making whisky, too).
This explosion in craft gin expertise perhaps reflects our changing tastes – according to data from Roy Morgan’s 2019 Alcohol Consumption Report, the proportion of Australians drinking spirits is increasing, but all other alcohol types are declining, with gin and vodka the main drivers behind this increase in popularity. Gin has experienced the largest growth, rising from 7.4% to 9.0% of Australians consuming the drink in an average four-week period.
It’s truly a renaissance, and Australia’s fast becoming one of the world’s best gin countries, much to the surprise of many.
“Fifteen years ago, we wouldn’t even be discussing this,” Chris Cameron, founder of Melbourne-based craft gin distillery Naught tells DMARGE. Cameron, who has a background in professional basketball, has joined the growing ranks of Australian independent gin distilleries making a name for themselves at home and abroad.
After trying his hand at making beer and vodka, Cameron finally settled on gin – a spirit he reckons allows distillers’ creativity to shine.
“I’ve always enjoyed drinking gin, and wanted to discover more about how it’s made. With other drinks, you can be quite limited, but with gin… The world’s your oyster.”
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Cameron suggests the reason Australia’s become such a gin hotspot is thanks to the quality of our produce, as well as our unique native botanicals that can’t be found anywhere else on earth.
That said: one must be careful to use them sparingly.
“Native botanicals tend to be quite punchy, so you need to be careful that you don’t overpower the gin… [their] aroma is fantastic.”
Another reason Australians are turning more and more towards gin is thanks to the corporate responsibility of the country’s gin distilleries. As the COVID-19 crisis started to affect Australia, gin distilleries around the country regeared production remarkably quickly to making hand sanitisers and other health supplies.
Not only has this kept these businesses afloat during what’s been a shocking year, but it’s done much to engender goodwill with the Australian public.
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“Because gin starts with a neutral spirit, it meant that distilleries had the ability to quickly change,” Cameron relates. He hopes that beyond 2020, Aussies will return to ‘supporting their local’ when it comes not only to gin, but all sorts of products.
It’s a trend that’s starting to see some growth, particularly in the hospitality space: local restaurants and bars have seen a “remarkable recovery” as Australians have taken up the very European trend of ‘lazy lunching‘ as restrictions have eased across the country.
If all this talk of gin has got you feeling thirsty, check out our guide to the best Australian gin brands before you head to your local.