Not your nanna’s gin

4 June, 2020

This classic spirit’s revival and the best bottle shops in Chatswood to buy it

Walking into a bottle shop in Chatswood just a few years ago and your gin options would have been sorely limited. The choices were basically the mass produced, big brand gins from the UK that had been around for years. The kinds of bottles you’d see in your nanna’s drinks cupboard for her daily gin mixed with the classic Schweppes Indian tonic water. Solid and dependable, but hardly exciting. But then, at some point in the last few years, gin became, well, cool. Suddenly, boutique craft distilleries have popped up all over Sydney. Archie Rose in Roseberry led the charge. Northern Beaches favourite, Manly Spirits, started distilling gins with foraged sea vegetables that imbued their drinks with a true sense of place.

And last month, Finders Distillery launched just down the road from Chatswood in St Leonards. Of course, let’s not forget some of the ground-breaking gins from overseas that now dominate the bottle shop shelves. Walking into BWS at Chatswood Interchange can leave you spoilt for choice – they really do have an amazing range! There are the local picks, like Archie Rose and Manly Spirits above, as well as the rose and cucumber infused Hendricks, Edinburgh Gin Elderflower Liqueur (oh hello, yes please!), Roku gin from Japan, and so many more.

Yep, there’s no denying that Chatswood’s gin fans are now spoilt for choice, whether you’d like to keep your drinking local, or enjoy all the premium gins from around the world.

So, what makes gin different from other spirits?

Right now, you might be wondering what makes gin different from other white spirits. Typically, a mix of what are known as botanicals are distilled with the spirit to give gin its flavour. These botanicals are usually naturally occurring ingredients and the array used is wide. This includes the classic botanicals like angelica, ginger, citrus fruit, spices and herbs.

Then some distilleries are using more unusual options like seaweeds, and here in Australia, a growing number of distilleries are using native fruits, herbs and spices like native limes, wattleseed, lemon myrtle and pepperleaf. But the one botanical that all gins must include to be legally called gin is juniper. Juniper berries come a type of conifer and give gin its piney, resinous flavour.

How to enjoy your gin

The classic is a gin and tonic, which is popular for good reason! Whether you like the classic Schweppes tonic, or you want to experiment with premium tonics like Fevertree or the Australian-made Capi, there’s a great range of options these days. And of course, there’s so much potential with garnishes too! Start with the classic slice of lemon, or play around with more unusual pairings like strawberries and ground black pepper, wedges of cucumber, fresh herbs like rosemary, mint and more. Try different combinations and see how they bring out different flavours and aromas in your gin.

And of course, don’t forget that gin is a versatile spirit for cocktails too. There’s the classics like martinis and negronis, as well as any number of unique creations being made at bars across Sydney. So, all you amateur bartenders, grab your gin, your cocktail shaker and your imagination and see what new brilliant favourite you can create. You can even tag us @chatsfood on Instagram to share what you’ve made.