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The Sipsmith Blog

Around the World in 80 Gins – Australia

in Articles July 22, 2013

Our next stop on the world gin tour brings us all the way to the Land Down Under.

Ranking number 13 on the list of top gin-drinking countries, Australia is a haven for gin lovers. But what exactly does drinking gin in Australia look like?

Drinking Gin in Australia

Australia might be best known wine and beer, but you’d be mistaken in thinking that they are the only drinks the country does well. In fact, gin has been consumed in Australia for centuries.

First invented by the Dutch in the 17th century, gin caught on with British drinkers during the Thirty Years War, when troops came to Holland to fight the Spaniards. Quinine, an ingredient in tonic water known to treat malaria, made the gin and tonic both a pleasure and a health necessity for colonising troops. The Dutch first made their way to Australia in the 17th century, while the British established their first of many colonies in the continent in 1788. And with the colonial troops, the gin and tonic followed close behind.

What do they drink?

Australia is currently experiencing a premiumisation trend in its spirits, whereby drinking rates are decreasing while the consumption of premium spirits is on the rise. High-end gins like Bombay Sapphire are making real in roads in the Australian market, while more traditional, standard gins are losing customers.

In addition to premium British gins, a number of hybrid British-Australian gins are also consumed in great quantities. Vickers Gin, which hails from the UK but is bottled in Australia, is a popular London Dry-style gin that’s made headway in Oz. Another hybrid favourite is Gilbey’s Gin, which originated in London but saw local Australian distilleries take on the origination during the 1920s.

In recent years, Australia has also experienced its own growth in artisanal distilleries. The West Winds distillery is leading the pack, and is creating gins with uniquely Australian tasting profiles. Some of the Aussie botanicals used include wattle seeds (seeds from the native Acacia plant that have a hazelnutty, chocolaty flavour) and bush tomatoes, which are typically dried and taste strong and sweet. West Winds even goes so far as to use the waters from West Australia’s Margaret River as the spirits’ base.

How do they drink it?

As premium gins are gaining a foothold in the Australian market, the gin & tonic is experiencing a resurgence as the classic way to enjoy high-quality gin. The craft cocktail scene is currently making waves in Australia, so bars like 1806 in Melbourne and Eau de Vie in Sydney are developing innovative ways to serve creative gin cocktails to curious punters.

Cocktail Recipe

Created by the West Winds distillery, the 40 Lashes marries their Sabre gin with fruity and floral flavours:

40 Lashes

45ml The West Winds Gin The Sabre

10ml crème de violette

30 ml lemon juice

Dash of orange bitters

Egg white

Serve in a coupette. No garnish.

Australia Flag ©Shutterstock.com – Aleksander Mijatovic

Coupette glass © lunapiena

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