The Best Tasting Gins 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019
With Serving Tips from Seb Reaburn of Anther Spirits

The best tasting gin in Australia right now

Let's start with the best. The best tasting gin in Australia right now is the Imperial Measures Distilling Ounce Gin – Bold. This herbal, savoury and harmonious gin won the best gin overall in the 2019 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. Seb suggests Soda or Tonic with a Green Olive, or let the juniper shine in in an old school Melbourne Gin Palace gin macchiato. Measure three parts gin to one part tonic with a chunk of fresh lemon and plenty of ice. Sip slowly.

London Dry Gin

London dry gin. You’d think it would come from the capital, when in fact it can be made anywhere in the world. It’s a very dry gin and its flowery and aromatic characteristics are a result of adding the botanicals during the second or third distillation. It’s the most versatile of gins, used in a variety of cocktails like martinis.

Five of the Best Australian London Dry Gins

  1. Big Tree Distillery 'Elegant Dry', Victoria

  2. Cedar Fox Distilling Co. Gin, Victoria

  3. Two Pencils, Granddad Jacks Craft Distillery, Queensland

  4. Triple Juniper Gin, Never Never Distilling Co, South Australia

  5. Prohibition Original Gin, Prohibition Liquor, South Australia

Navy Strength Gin

Navy strength gin is typically juniper led and weighs in at 57 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). The name comes from a long-standing tale suggesting the British Royal Navy measured a spirits’ strength by igniting it. If the alcohol lit then this was ‘proof’ that it was above 57% ABV, and it was allowed on board the ship.

The Best Navy Strength Gins for You to Try

  1. Royal Blood Gin, Brogan’s Way Distillery, Victoria

  2. Sticks & Stones, 5Nines Distilling, South Australia

  3. Kalki Moon Navy Strength Gin, Queensland

How to Enjoy Navy Strength Gin

Navy gins are fantastic for mixing as they maintain their gin character even in small quantities.  

Seb says “You would think that when you drown them in tonic so that the final mix is normal strength, they’d taste like normal gin, but they don’t. The flavour hits you, with more bright spices and super fresh citrus.”

Seb’s advice with navy?  Don’t be shy with the tonic, they reward mixing with a tremendously refreshing tall drink.

The best gins are powerful herbaceous gins, so any garnish that brings forward the spices will shine. Seb enjoys the Brogan’s Way Royal Blood Gin with lime and rosemary, Sticks & Stones 5Nines with lime and a few cardamom pods, and Kalki Moon Navy Strength Gin with lemon and a slice of fresh ginger.

The Best Barrel-Aged Gin

As the name suggests, gin is popped in barrels and the interplay between spirit, wood, temperature and time provides it many of the classic aged spirit flavours that gin is not usually associated with, such as vanilla, caramel, oak, and smoke. Sometimes, if the barrels have been used to age another spirit or wine beforehand, the gin takes on some of these flavours.

Hand distilled in small batches in Collingwood, Victoria, the Anther Honey Old Tom Whisky Barrel Aged Gin is a gold medal-winning experimental distillation which marries the gin with the oak and whisky of the barrel. Macadamia, honey, and fresh cream in the still gives a soft, luscious, sweet gin, but with no added sugar.

Seb says “After almost three months in oak, we just love this gin. At first, it is juniper and rich wood, hints of whisky, then floral botanicals and citrus from Geraldton wax, all mixed with flashes of spice from pepperberry and clove. The finish is really smooth, really rich, with the honey flavours closing out the experience.”

Seb’s serving suggestion for the Anther Honey Old Tom Whisky Barrel Aged Gin is to make a gin Sazerac cocktail with two shots of gin, some sugar, a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters, all served in a chilled rocks glass washed in absinthe with a lemon twist.

Gin’s Fruitier Sister: Sloe Gin

Sloe gin is a red liqueur made with gin and sloe berries, which are a small fruit relative of the plum, native to England and only in season once a year.

If you have the opportunity, we recommend a sip of the mysteriously complex Southern Wild Distillery’s Dasher + Fisher Sloe Gin – the handpicked sloe berries foraged from across Tasmania make this extra special.

Seb recommends enjoying sloe gin on the rocks with an orange slice or in a Charlie Chaplin cocktail: equal parts Dasher + Fisher Sloe, Marionette Apricot Brandy, and lime juice, all shaken hard and served straight up!

A Whole New World of Gin

One of our favourite things about the amazing growth of Australian craft gin is the diversity. This is so clear in the range of contemporary new world gins out there. There is a new world of gin that pushes the original definition of the London dry style. Typically, this means less juniper and more of another botanical, and/or citrus. New world gin is led by smaller distilleries – an industry willing to take risks to develop new and bold quality products.

Four of the Best New World Gins and How to Enjoy Them

  1. South Coast Distillery - Batch Zero Gin, South Coast Distillery, New South Wales.

    Seb recommends garnishing this one with citrus and cardamon, or hear the gin sing in a dry martini with a grapefruit twist.

  1. 78 Degrees, Adelaide Hills Distillery, South Australia.

    This spirit is fast becoming a classic on its own. Seb’s advice is to serve it garnished with pink grapefruit in a G&T. You could also have it in a classic Martinez cocktail: gin with a splash of sweet vermouth, curacao and a dash of maraschino, served straight up.

  1. Chamomile Gin, Alchemy Distillers, Victoria.

    Seb would serve this one with classic citrus like lemon or lime for a fresh G&T which goes well with the spicy sweetness of true chamomile. It’s also bright enough to hold its own in a Tom Collins or even a Singapore Sling.

  2. Teddy and The Fox, Bellarine Distillery, Victoria.

    Teddy and the Fox gin starts like a classic London dry, then gives what Seb reckons is “the best example of balancing the power and flavour of native lemon myrtle, while never losing site of the juniper.” Try this gin with a sprig of fresh lemon myrtle if you can get hold of some, or fresh lime and basil leaves. The other winning serve is a Southside cocktail, gin, fresh lime and mint leaves, served short.

Not So Standard: Experimental Gins

Expect to see more experimental gins which accentuate different flavors from strawberry to wild plum to gingerbread. There’s even a Christmas Pudding gin by Victorian distillery Noble Bootleggers.

One Smokin’ Experimental Gin You Must Try

The one special experimental bottle you’ll want is Australia's first smoked gin. Produced in Queensland, Mt. Uncle Distillery’s Botanic Australis Bushfire Smoked Gin is based on an original London dry gin recipe but with the original ingredients substituted for our own smoked Australian native botanicals.

Seb says “We all know and understand smokey whisky, but the Mt Uncle manages to embrace the smoke without losing the clean freshness that is essential to gin.”

Seb recommends the Botanic Australis Bushfire Smoked Gin in a Martini with green olives, served cold and strong. The other very tasty drink he would create with its unsual flavour is an old gin cocktail called a Princeton, two parts gin to one part port with a dash of orange bitters and a twist of orange peel. Expect a complex flavour experience when combined with the port and orange.

The top 16 gins are based on the results of the 2019 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, Australia's first and leading national spirits competition, in which Seb participated as a judge. Seb Reaburn and co-distiller Dervilla McGowan think they achieved the perfect distillation when they entered the Awards and were awarded Championship Gin 2018.