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An extract from The Australian Spirits Guide by Luke McCarthy
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The Australian Spirits Guide by Luke McCarthy journeys through 51 of the country's best distilleries unearthing 60 of the finest spirits. Each spirit has its own history and passion as well as tasting notes, serving and cocktail suggestions.
In this extract we meet a Yarra Valley winemaker, Andrew Marks, who uses his skills to create a finely balanced gin:
'In life, there are drinkers and there are martini drinkers.’ Andrew Marks certainly fits the latter camp. It’s a proclamation from Frank Moorhouse’s Martini: a Memoir, a book dripping with gin, and one Marks has a practical affection for. The book, along with its eponymous cocktail, ignited his interest in gin a number of years ago.
But being a winemaker by trade, Andrew was more capable than most to capitalise on the interest.
He plies his trade at the family vineyard, Gembrook Hill, one of the Yarra Valley’s most respected, an hour east of Melbourne. But his career as a gin distiller began in a more informal setting – the kitchen. It was a short-lived experiment. Once fumes from the tiny still he was using started to contaminate his apartment, something had to give, so he purchased a slightly larger Portuguese bain-marie still, previously used for fragrance extraction, and moved his distilling operation to an old shed in the winery.
Extensive experimentation followed, where he trialled a range of different botanicals and methods.
He began blending distillates from each botanical, just like blending vintages, to achieve the flavour profile he was after. Then in 2013, the first small-batch gin was released under Marks’s Melbourne Gin Company label.
The gin itself is complex. It manages an intriguing balance: none of the individual notes dominate, but they all build on its overall impression. Almost like a fine wine or something.
To taste: Citrus, rosemary, forest floor, subtle juniper. Textural and creamy on the palate.
Best served: I really enjoy this neat. Wet or dry Martini? Arguments have been fought. Both work.
Botanicals: Juniper, coriander, sandalwood, cassia bark, rosemary, navel orange, angelica root, orrisroot; Australian natives: Macadamia, honeymyrtle.
Distillery location: 2850 Launching Place Road, Gembrook, VIC
Cellar door: No.
Price range: $$
The Australian Spirits Guide by Luke McCarthy is published by Hardie Grant (Melb, Vic, Oct 2016; HB, 240pp). This extract is reproduced with the kind permission of the publishers.
- Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)
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