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Tasting Gin | 78° Gin

TASTING GIN | 78° GIN
78° GIN

Sasha La Forgia started Adelaide Hills Distillery in 2014, but he confessed to me recently that he may have done a bit of backyard stilling when he was a teenager. I’m confident to guess that his spirits have come a long way since then!

Sasha trained in winemaking and spent many years travelling the world working on vintages and learning about distilling before returning to Adelaide to start the Adelaide Hills Distillery. 78° Gin was their first product, but has been joined by The Italian, a bitter orange liquor that goes great in a Negroni, The Gunnery spiced white rum, a range of vermouths, and Australian Green Ant Gin is collaboration with Indigenous bushfood company Something Wild. Sasha also does a great range of limited releases under the Left of Centre label.

PROCESS

A true hands on distiller, Sasha even made his own still! A copper column and basket still that gently vapour infuses the botanicals using a neutral grape spirit, it is the Adelaide Hills after all. The spirit is heated to 78°, hence the name. The heart cut is blended with local water to an ABV of 42%.

BOTANICALS

Juniper
Coriander seeds
Lemon peel
Lime peel
Orange peel
Nutmeg
Clove
Cinnamon
Orris root
Black pepper
Star anise

TASTING NOTES

The most noticeable fragrance at first sniff is coriander, but, and this is a huge thing for me, the coriander hater, to say, but not in a bad way. It blends with the trio of citrus in a pleasing way with juniper and black pepper offering spicy support.

The citrus is really the star on the palate. I think the use of the three citruses along with the piney citrus of the coriander combine to create a complexity that give a long finish and is almost sweet and floral. The star anise lends support in the sweet finish. Back in the middle there is strong London dry characteristics, with the range of spices blending happily with juniper. This is a very fine presentation of a London dry and it’s easy to see why it took out a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

IN DRINKS
TASTING GIN | 78° GIN

 A traditionally inspired gin like this has to sampled in a gin and tonic, and it has a great time in Fever-tree Indian tonic water with a twist of lemon peel. Although my standard pour is usually 3:1 I found the right balance of 78° is 2:1, so go slow friends!

TASTING GIN | 78° GIN

I wanted to have a go at a couple of traditional cocktails and decided to start with a Hanky Panky. I used Cinzano vermouth and instead of Fernet Branca I used two drops of extremely bitter wormwood tincture, which gave great depth of flavour, but overall the 78° is a bit too subtle to stand up to this cocktail.

TASTING GIN | 78° GIN

Finally I made up an distinctly Australian Clover Club using Distillery Botanica raspberry liqueur. It took a bit of tasting to get the ratios right. As a Clover Club is usually made is raspberry syrup, rather than liqueur, I had to up the ratio to get enough raspberry flavour over the additional alcohol, then I added a dash of sugar syrup balance the extra alcohol, but it ended up quite tasty. With a bit less punch than the Hanky Panky, gin really shines in this cocktail.

CLOVER CLUB

60mL 78° Gin
30mL Distillery Botanica raspberry liqueur
20mL lemon juice
5mL sugar syrup
One egg white

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker and dry shake to emulsify the egg white. Taste and adjust to your palate. Add ice and shake to cool. Strain into a coupe or Nick & Nora glass.

Roasted Grape Gin Fizz

Roasted Grape Gin Fizz
Roasted Grape Gin Fizz

I roast grapes pretty regularly for crostinis and the like. The combination of bread, creamy cheese, sweetly roasted fruit, nuts and herbs is hard to beat and has a million renditions with the changing seasons. A few weeks back, I was eyeing the beautiful stewed juices from a batch of balsamic roasted grapes and strained out some for a gin collins. I really enjoyed flavor, but wanted to concentrate it a bit more and ultimately came to this roasted grape gin fizz. The roasted grape syrup is creamy and viscous, more like a puree, from blending the whole roasted grapes along with the juices before passing the puree through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the solids. Use leftovers with club soda for a creamy grape soda or in other cocktails.

Grape Gin Fizz

makes 1

  • 1 ounce club soda
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce roasted grape syrup*
  • 1 egg white (about 1/2 an ounce)

This cocktail is best served in a chilled glass, so place an 8-ounce coupe, fizz or collins glass in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, but up to a few hours before making. Add club soda to your chilled glass and set aside. Combine gin, lemon juice, roasted grape syrup and the egg white to a cocktail shaker. Shake without ice for 10-15 seconds, then add in a scoop of ice and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Strain the cocktail into your serving glass onto the club soda and serve. Garnish with a thyme sprig and/or fresh grape(s). 

*Roasted Grape Syrup

Roasted Grape Gin Fizz

makes about 1 1/2 cups syrup

  • 2 cups seedless red grapes
  • 1 ounce balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine grapes, vinegar, olive oil, salt and brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl, then spread out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Add the thyme sprigs to the grapes and bake until the grapes begin to shrivel, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer the roasted grapes and juices to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve, using a rubber spatula to push the syrup through, and store in a sealable airtight jar. Keep refrigerated and use within 1 week. The syrup will be thick and creamy. 

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Beet & Goat Cheese Spread

Beet & Goat Cheese Spread

Need an idea for those leftover holiday beets or a low-fuss dinner appetizer? This beet and goat cheese spread just takes a little roasting time for the beets, unless you’re using already roasted beets then you can throw this together in minutes. I love serving it with peppery arugula, toasted walnuts, extra crumbles of goat cheese and a drizzle of honey. Swap out the arugula for fresh mint, the walnuts for pistachios or pumpkin seeds, or the honey for a drizzle of orange juice. 

Beet & Goat Cheese Spread
Beet & Goat Cheese Spread

Beet & Goat Cheese Spread

Serves 4-6

  • 1.5 pounds beets, stems and greens removed
  • 4 ounces plus 1 ounce goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup arugula
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub the beets. Wrap each individual beet in foil, then transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 50-60 minutes, until the beet is tender and easily pierced through with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, hold the top tip of the beet and gently peel away the skins. You’ll know the beets are fully roasted if the skin comes off easily. Discard the beet skins and transfer the roasted beets to a food processor. Add 4 ounces of goat cheese, the minced garlic and lemon juice. Mix until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and top with fresh arugula, toasted walnuts and the remaining ounce of goat cheese, crumbled. Drizzle the dish with honey and serve with fresh bread. The bell marker

Beet & Goat Cheese Spread
Beet & Goat Cheese Spread

The West Winds Sabre Gin

The West Winds Sabre Gin

The West Winds Sabre was one of the first Australian gins I tried, and it was love at first bite. It’s not surprising it was my first Australian gin, it was one of the very earliest of the high quality gins to be made in Australian. But it used to be hard to find and I loved the stuff so much I’ve never quite managed to contain myself to my reviewing standards of sobriety (they are quite strict). Recently a local bottle shop started stocking it at a reasonable price so it’s becoming more of a staple in the gin cupboard.

The West Winds Sabre Gin

Back in 2009 four guys in WA set up The Tailor Made Spirits Company to distill contemporary Australian spirits at Margaret River. Their first project was The West Winds Gin. The regular range features the Sabre and the higher proof Cutlass. In 2012 they created a one off batch of 99 called Dirty Harry, which was the Sabre, but cut to 44% ABV and sold in a 1.5L magnum. This year they released a navy strength called Broadside. I managed a sneaky taste of it, but it’s not widely available at the moment. If you see it, snap it up!

The West Winds Sabre Gin Review

THE PROCESS

The Sabre is made in a German copper pot still. The neutral spirit is flavoured with juniper along with native and imported botanicals. The Sabre is made to be a nod to a traditional London dry gin with nothing added after distillation except triple filtered Margaret River rainwater to 40% ABV.

THE BOTANICALS

They don’t list all the botanicals, but this lot are in there:
Juniper
Coriander seeds
Wattleseeds
Lemon peel
Lemon myrtle

TASTING NOTES

The scent is rich with juniper; herbal notes & citrus. In the mouth there is a lot of alcohol heat, with a juniper flavour at the aftertaste.

IN DRINKS

In a dirty martini the saltiness and the ice neutralise the heat of the alcohol and bring back the delicacy of the botanicals and citrus. In a gin and tonic the flavour is full but light with a delicious creaminess from the wattleseed. With a good tonic water like Quina Fina or Fevertree and twist of lemon peel to garnish it is an absolutely excellent drink. The Sabre is such a good all-purpose gin, it’s terrific in cocktails (like a Negroni, right), makes a great martini and truly excellent in a gin and tonic. At a price point only slightly higher than Tanqueray and Beefeater I would strongly suggest you consider this as your ‘house pour’ gin.

See more about gin

WHAT OTHERS SAY

Time Out
The Gin Queen
Gentleman’s Cabinet
Darwin Foodies
Good Food

WHERE TO BUY

Dan Murphy’s
Nick’s Wine Merchant
And Broadway Cellars on Glebe Point Rd if you live in my neighbourhood!

Rogue Society Gin

Rogue Society Gin

Though I’ve always been very mindful of supporting Australian gins, I’ll admit I have been a little remiss in not featuring our antipodean cousins when New Zealand make some many fine gins.

Rogue Society Gin

Distilling in Auckland since 2014, Rogue Society is noticeable in the market for its strong brand voice and aesthetic. From the moment it launched with it’s eye-catching tall black bottle and silver nameplate it was clear the team meant business. The brand voice continues through all their copy and marketing distinguishing itself in the antipodean market with a level of finesse.

Rogue Society Gin Reviews

PROCESS

Rogue Society is batch distilled in a hand beaten 19th century copper still. They don’t explicitly describe their distilling process, but reading between the lines the botanicals are distilled at once rather than blended post distillation. The heart cut is blended with glacial water from New Zealand’s Southern Alps to an ABV of 40%.

BOTANICALS

Juniper
Lemon peel
Orange peel
Coriander seeds
Orris root
Angelica root
Nutmeg
Cloves
Cardamom  pods
Liquorice root
Cassia bark
Cinnamon

TASTING NOTES

Rogue Society is an uncomplicated gin. It owes a fresh, bright flavour to its classic London Dry botanical profile and that bright glacial water. Despite the presence of many warm spices, it is citrus that dominates the flavour profile, with a welcome juniper kick. The spicy notes only linger briefly with citrus rounding out the finish.

IN DRINKS

I found Rogue Society rather lost in Fever-Tree Indian tonic water. While perfectly pleasant it didn’t offer distinction against the quinine punch. However I found it an enticing backdrop in citrus driven cocktails. It makes an outstanding classic French 75, which I topped up with Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny Brut Champagne NV. At $20 a bottle, it is certainly not spectacular, and is rather bland on its own, but in a French 75 the all-important bubble texture is significantly smoother than an equivalent price Australian sparkling. The juniper and spice of the gin paired perfectly with the tang of lemon and fizz of champagne.

I also experimented with with a Gimlet, which again showed the strength of Rogue Society as a juniper backdrop. I made up a lime cordial with palm sugar (hence the colour) and basil stalks, which pair beautifully with gin’s citrus and spice profile.

More Infor about gin

WHAT OTHERS SAY

Gin Foundry

WHERE TO BUY

Amazon