Another new gin, Sly Grog, has been distilled for the Sovereign Hill Living Museum in Ballarat by nearby Kilderkin Distillery. It incorporates plants grown in the popular tourist destination, which recreates a 19th century gold rush experience.
“I wanted to use plants that were growing here at that time,” says Cherrie Neale, Sovereign Hill’s chief horticulturist. “One of these that we incorporated was the bankia flowers which the Native people used to make a sweet, sweet drink.
“To greet the European arrivals and the plants they brought with them, we chose rosemary. And the Chinese in the goldfields used juniper berries for medicinal purposes. We respected the three cultures.
The gin, which is available on the Sovereign Hill website and poured to visitors on-site at the period-themed United States Hotel on the town’s main street, was created to help raise funds for the museum.
Kilderkin also draws on a long regional tradition dating back to the era that Sovereign Hill is reviving. Robert Dunn’s distillery, founded in Warrenheip near Ballarat in the 1860s, became famous for its gin – and whiskey – towards the end of that century.
“Sovereign Hill is a story of stories,” says Neale. “And this Sly Grog gin is a natural connection to the horticulture, history and cultures of this place through time.”
SoHi Garden Envy Gin | Southern Highlands, $79
Soft and seductive floral fragrance, silky texture, lingering finish rich in juniper. Perfect for a lazy afternoon G&T, with herbal garnish – and the bottle is beautiful to look at.
Beachtree Quokka Gin | Sunny Coast, $75
Bold juniper, blueberry and native peppercorn on the attack, round and warm, with a spicy finish. Good in an all-Australian negroni, with local vermouth and bitters.
Gin Sly Grog | Ballarat, $85
Lots of citrus notes: lemony myrtle, orange and desert lime, and a nice undertow of flowers and herbs thanks to hand-picked banksia and rosemary. Good gin martini.
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