Juniperlooza — Melbourne’s riverside festival of gin returned for a weekend filled with good times and G&Ts. Held at the expansive Boatbuilders Yard, the venue managed to fit in 22 gin producers, roving performers, DJs, talk & taste sessions, and a whole lotta gin lovers (both sessions sold out well in advance.) The festival is an opportunity for local (and international) gin makers to showcase their wares. Each distillery had their own stand and signature drinks, ranging from classic G & Ts to fruity bramble tipples to dramatic negronis. (Patient Wolf’s smoked negroni was delivered under a glass bell jar for full effect). The atmosphere was a merry one, welcoming to novices and gin nerds alike. Upon entry, ticket holders received a G&T token along with a reusable metal straw as part of the festival’s efforts to reduce waste. The organisers also teamed up with TerraCycle to recycle the plastic cups and turn them into recycled plastic products.
With a dedicated gin aficionado by my side, we made the most of chatting with new producers as well as revisiting some of old favourites. We discussed handpicking sloe berries in Tasmania with McHenry Distillery and took a metaphorical rainforest walk with Brookie’s gin. (Brookie’s Cape Byron distillery is situated in the heart of a regenerated rainforest which produces many of the botanicals used in their dry gin.) Melbourne local Cedar Fox told us tales of using backyard botanicals while The Botanist schooled us on their Scottish Isle of Islay gin. I swooned over Forty Spotted’s Rare Tasmanian gin aged in Lark whisky barrels and discovered a new favourite summer cocktail – Patient Wolf’s Snow Pea Collins.
As if all these gin chats and gin drinks weren’t enough, we also registered one of many free Talk and Taste sessions running throughout the day. These sessions gave attendees an in-depth look at a specific distillery and its products. Held on the historic Polly Woodside (a sailing ship from 1885), it was an opportunity to channel our inner sailor and learn more about gin the best way possible – through multiple tastings! Our session with Bass & Flinders covered everything from extracting ant pheromones to the ultimate Aussie negroni ingredients.
If you’re keen to experience more of Australia’s booming gin scene in a fun festive atmosphere, I suggest following Juniperlooza and jumping on tickets when they go on sale. If this year’s sold-out weekend sessions are anything to go by, Melbourne is full of happy gin drinkers eager to snap up tickets.
Jenny S. is an event addict. When she’s not attending live shows, you can find her sampling the latest craft beer or sipping a creative cocktail.
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