Summer in Australia is all about beach time, BBQs, chilling out with friends, and enjoying a good old fashioned drink…or three.
As you can tell from our name, gin is our summer beverage of choice, so we were absolutely thrilled when we received a bottle of Botanic Australis Gin from Mt Uncle Distillery and Nip of Courage to review.
Not only is this gin distilled in our home state of Queensland (woo!), but it contains 14 botanicals – 13 of which are Australian Natives. There’s Wattle Seed, Lemon Myrtle, Bunya Nut, Finger Lime, Lilly Pilly and Peppermint gum to name a few…and only one imported but necessary ingredient (unfortunately juniper doesn’t grow so well in the Atherton Tablelands).
If there is a more ‘Australian’ gin we’d love to find out but really the most important thing about Botanic Australis is the taste. With so many different ingredients the potential for disaster is high, but to his credit, Mt. Uncle owner and distiller Mark Watkins has achieved a perfect balance of flavours and a gin that goes down very easily. Mark adapted his recipe for Botanic Australis from a 300 year old London Dry Recipe and after much trial and error he has really has achieved a unique and beautifully flavourful gin.
We first tried it neat and experienced a whole range of different flavour notes – citrus, aniseed and spice being the most dominant. However we couldn’t leave it at that, more thorough ‘research’ was needed. We wanted to know how the gin would perform in a more challenging environment: The Great Australian Barbecue.
We convinced a few friends to join us (really not hard when free alcohol is involved) then we set about procuring tasty cocktail recipes and some delicious summer BBQ recipes to match. The big day finally arrived this past weekend and it was fab – good food, great company and first class gin. We couldn’t have asked for more!
On the recommendation of Mark we kicked off the day with the Classic Negroni cocktail. While B’s husband barbecued a rack of lamb and some tandoori chicken, we we unleashed our inner mixologists and shook up around 50ml of Botanic Australis Gin, 30ml Vermouth and 30ml Campari with some ice (our measurements were approximate as we were working on a few varying Negroni recipes). We strained the cocktail into our glasses and garnished with orange peel and then…it was time to take a sip.
WOW! The tastebuds certainly got a wake-up call with this one. It certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste (Negronis aren’t my favourite) but for the Negroni lovers out there, this gin certainly serves its purpose.
Negronis are traditionally very strong and the Campari lends a bitterness that is a shock to the palate. Ours were slightly chilled, which leveled the first taste, but after a couple of sips they really grew on us. Particularly with such a flavourful gin, with orange and bitters it was a real flavour knock-out. B is not a Campari drinker but she has converted to Negronis.
After the Negronis were all finished, we went for a classic Gin and Tonic to have with lunch. We used Capi Tonic water, fresh lime and mint – not 100% traditional but certainly 100% delicious. The tonic brought out the sweeter, citrus side of the gin with just a hint of spice. A total winner!
Our G&T’s disappeared rather quickly in the warm midday sun, so we got a little more daring and went for an updated (read:bastardised) version of the Sicilian 75.
Simply mix 50ml of Botanic Australis Gin, 100ml of Blood Orange Capi Fruit Soda, 15ml Shot Campari, 50 shot Sugar Syrup, and then top with Prosecco and garnish with fresh orange.
This was a big crowd pleaser – fruity, fresh, a little tangy and perfect for the hot Queensland weather. It was super easy to make and the blood orange again highlighted the citrus notes in the gin.
Finally we finished of our gin-tasting with a Summer gin collins. Don’t be scared of this one – it’s not as sweet as you might think because the soda water balances the sugar. We even accidentally over-did the sugar syrup and it was still very subtle. Recipe for this one is: 50ml Gin, Juice of ½ a lemon (we had a little bit less of this), 15ml Sugar syrup, fresh berries then top it up with Soda water. You can choose to shake this one up with ice but we just threw everything in together and it worked a treat.
This was another huge favourite. The fruitiness just worked together with the gin to deliver a really well balanced flavour and there were definite murmurs of ‘best gin cocktail ever’ and ‘this is my new favourite gin’ after these cocktails were finished.
Botanic Australis Gin really is a must try for all the gin lovers out there. Heck even if you’re not that fussed on gin you should still try it! It’s unique, it’s Australian, it’s delicious, and even the packaging is amazing – the bottles feature gorgeous illustrations of the 14 featured botanicals by South Australian Designer John Draper. There are in fact 14 different bottles so you can collect each botanical for your liquor cabinet…we see a challenge coming on don’t you?
Now we’re off to Dan Murphy’s to pick up another bottle…