It’s that time of the year again when the Royal Queensland Show, or as the …
What is Splendid about Gin?
As the rain clears, and the mowers come out, the gardens are blossoming and the weather is finally warm enough to swim in the ocean. It is also time to stash away the mulled red wines, the whiskeys and the hot chocolate. Spring time is gin time. And gin means refreshing citrus flavours, sweet syrups and cold sparkling tonics.
“Mother’s Ruin” or “Madam Geneva”. That’s what 1700s London called the crisp juniper flavoured spirit we now call gin. Originally used for medical purposes the spirit rose rapidly in popularity amongst the lower classes of the time, in a period that has become known as the “Gin Craze”.
In recent years gin has again increased in popularity in Australia. According to Roy Morgan Research (2015) gin is gaining on vodka as Australia’s white spirit of choice. And with this craze is emerging a wonderful craft spirit boom that’s about regional flavours, local producers and some fantastic gins.
Recently I had the pleasure of sampling a fine gin borne from the beautiful East Coast of Tasmania. The Splendid Gin have managed to create a beautiful blend of quintessentially Tasmanian, yet classically English spirit, with blends of fruits and botanicals. Gone are the days of mass-produced, mass consumed spirits from who-knows-where. Nowadays it’s the local flavours and characters that really make for a winning drinking experience. And The Splendid Gin are leading the pack having recently won a silver medal at the the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
I spoke with Mike Travalia, who created the Splendid Gin with his wife Ange Boxall, and couple Tim & Kellie Lyne, to discuss Australia’s recent gin revival and the majesty of The Splendid Gin.
When did the concept for The Splendid Gin begin, and what led you to choosing this particular spirit?
Half of The Splendid Gin team own and run a very successful winery on the East Coast of Tasmania – Spring Vale. As that name suggests, there is a natural freshwater spring on the estate and it seemed like a great opportunity to utilise it for something quite special.
We both live in old heritage properties once inhabited by a famous English writer and illustrator Louise Anne Meredith. She did very intricate botanical studies from our gardens and given some of the gin botanicals are sourced from there, it felt like a beautiful way to continue her (classically English) legacy and love of Tasmania.
As most people are probably aware, gin is having a big revival hence provenance and sense of place has a big part to do with that.
Oh, and we love drinking the stuff!
What sets The Splendid Gin apart from the more conventional tastes of the imported brands?
Obviously, juniper is a critical ingredient to gin however, our focus was much more on the subtlety of other (local) botanicals and the quality of the spirit itself.
The Splendid Gin is made from a grape spirit where often other (and lesser quality) gins utilise cane or grain. It is distilled a total of four times which is unusual in itself, especially given we only use spring water as part of that process. The result is a very refined and high-quality spirit. You can sip it neat all too easily. Our profile is very feminine with high notes of different citrus, bergamot and coriander. Almost all the botanicals are organic and come from the pristine East Coast of Tasmania.
How do you explain Australia’s recent love affair with gin, and the swelling number of gin bars popping up around major cities?
It’s a big world out there. The breadth and depth of flavour profile is huge. It’s no longer “I’ll have a cheap gin with some post mix tonic please…” by any means.
Given the range, you can match it to individual tastes, styles, times of day and even food.
We’ve noticed a lot of food pairing emerging which is a new chapter.
Regional differences play a big part too. The fact you can sample different gins from practically all over Australia is very exciting.
What’s your favourite way to enjoy a tipple of The Splendid Gin?
I can never walk past a classic G&T and The Splendid Gin, with a slice of fresh mandarin and CAPI tonic is quite magnificent.
We often have a cheeky snifter neat on a big rock of ice too.
And finally, what Splendid plans lay in store for the future?
We are launching a new Splendid gin based product, similar to the famous Pimms, at Taste Melbourne in Yarra Park from November 30th.
It’s all about the delicate sensory experiences of summer, with a lower alcohol content and perfect with a bunch of fresh fruit and handfuls of ice.
Come and try it for yourself. It’s Splendid.