It’s ‘gin o’çlock’ around the world, the liquor that began as a medicinal tonic once again one of our top trending drinks.
There’s no better time than now to learn more about gin and its distilling process, especially when it comes with the opportunity to make a bottle of gin according to your own personal tastes.
Brisbane Distillery in West End, fresh and gorgeous following a recent renovation, has just reopened their venue which features a 23m long cocktail bar and luxe banquette booth seating. As Brisbane’s only ‘grain-to-glass’ distillery, making both gin and Caribbean-style rhum, Brisbane Distillery holds pride of place high in the distilling stratosphere.
The addition of a custom designed, state-of-the-art Gin School right next door (in fact co-joined) to the existing distillery is a huge asset, the venue not only functional, but also a beautiful space.
Surrounded by vintage botanical illustrations and shelves holding 150 tins of different botanicals in alphabetical order, we take a seat at a table in front of one of the thirty individual copper stills. They are mini versions of the huge stills you will have seen used in distilleries; the shining copper distill pot a work of art.
Our two-hour course begins with a potted history of gin and the distilling process, and then it’s time to begin.
Most of the hard work has been done for us, the base spirit having already been made from barley. Our task is to add our chosen botanicals, distilling the brew to infuse them.
We have our own instruction booklet and, most importantly, a flavour wheel as tools, the botanicals divided into seven categories such as citrus, herbal, floral etc., helping us to develop a profile of the gin we would like to make.
Of course, there’s our guide as well, ready to answer any questions and on hand to advise us on combinations and quantities to ensure that our gin was well-balanced.
With a gin cocktail already consumed for inspiration, I choose to add Kakadu plum for its sweet/sour qualities, finger lime and lemongrass for their citrus notes, orris root to get smoothness and honey for mouth feel, as well as juniper, the quintessential gin botanical.
Somewhat recklessly I tip portions of the botanicals into a bag, which is added to the still and the process begins, the temperature-controlled hotplate under the still assisting in the distillation process. Vapour from the still cools and runs off as high-alcohol gin, blended to strength with distilled water. (That’s a ‘distilled’ version of the process for the sake of brevity.)
It has been said that making gin is “a mix between science, art and black magic”. Yes, and perhaps a little bit of knowledge.
Whatever, with some rose for colouring (thinking an Instaworthy photo to reflect the plum flavours), there was definitely some magic happening in my still, the resulting gin being amazingly palatable!
The opportunity to create your own unique gin is a must for gin and tonic lovers, fitting right into the ‘experiential tourism’ boom we’re enjoying in our local areas.
I felt that I grasped most of the science involved in the process, probably because it was so well explained. I loved the experience of being in charge of my own still, choosing my own botanicals and making a unique gin to please my particular palate.
With a couple of gin cocktails and our own cheese platter to fortify us through the class, this was an enjoyable, creative experience. It would also make a perfect present for someone special giving knowledge, the experience, plus a unique bottle of gin to take home. Winner, winner!
GIN SCHOOL DETAILS
Brisbane Distillery’s Master Distiller Experience costs $189 per person. Classes are available from Wednesday to Saturday at 2pm and 6pm. Bookings are essential via Brisbane Distillery’s website.
Brisbane Distillery, 259 Montague Rd., West End Ph: 0480 779 239
Open: Tues – Sat 11am – late; Sun 12noon – 6pm.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast attended the Master Distiller Experience as a guest of Brisbane Distillery. Some photos credited to Brisbane Distillery.