Bass & Flinders Distillery is a family run distillery in the Mornington Peninsula. Holly, who runs the distillery with her father Wayne, made the trip down to Sydney to give us a chance to experience their unique gin masterclass.
As the 8 of us settled into our seats, Holly smoothly began regaling us with an entertaining recount of the history of gin. We learned about the distillation process and the 3 different methods of making gin. It’s one thing knowing a product is good quality. It’s totally different learning about the degree of care given to every step of the process. While most gins are grain-based, Bass & Flinders make theirs from a grape-based alcohol – which they actually make on site instead of buying it (as most distilleries do). They source the grapes from a nearby private vineyard, specifying which characteristics they’re looking for. The benefit to creating their own base-syrup is that if there’s some unwanted variation in the grapes, they can usually balance it out during that process.
Don’t ask me how. It’s sorcery.
After that, we moved on to our own gins. Juniper, in case you weren’t aware, is the key ingredient. Without juniper, gin is basically just blended vodka. The other main player, present in almost every gin, is coriander seed. We played with the proportions of those two essences first (using droppers, and working in 1mL increments. This was SCIENCE GRADE alcohol creation). Once we were happy with our base, we moved on to the botanicals. There were about 14 botanical essences in front of us, laid out on axes with the aromatics grouped at one end, and the dries on the other.
“The trick to a good gin”, explained Holly, “is to have a balance of dry and aromatic”.
With her blessing to sample the essences and encouragement to taste-test our gin blend every step of the way, we set out to create our perfect alcohol.
If we weren’t happy with our blend, we had another set of juniper and coriander seed to use as a base. I kept mine simple and used flavours I know I like, so I spent the extra time taking advantage of the cheese platter and frantically texting my friends for help with coming up with the perfect name for my gin.
When we were done, we had the chance to sample the rest of the products. My personal favourites were the ‘Gin 10 – Wild & Spicy’, which featured cardamom, orange, and pepper berry, and Angry Ant – made with the ‘alarm pheromones’ from native ants.
Oh, and they keep all recipes on file, so you can re-order the gin you design in the class when you finish your bottle.
Despite my own preference for gin, something would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ochre. Bass & Flinders’ aged grape spirit (like cognac…but not made in Cognac). Double distilled, aged in oak barrels previously used to store aged spirit for 25 years. If artisan spirits are your thing, this is an impressive one to keep on your shelf.
Liv S. is a creature of warm weather and negronis. Her interests include long lunches, trying new things, and triple utterances. Follow her frolics on @callmememphisjones, or tenderlcreative.com.au .