A few weeks after Junipalooza, I came across a Spirits Business article asking if gin has peaked. Has it? The gin resurgence in recent years has been in full swing with craft distilleries popping up almost every month just in the UK and a generous handful on Australian shores. Short production time is one of the many factors to have contributed to this wonderful resurgence with brands constantly pushing the barriers to create a unique product. Jared Brown of Sipmith (the brand responsible for reviving craft distilling in the UK) predicted locality as one of the growing trends for the category when he spoke at the London Junipalooza in 2016. Distillers have been embracing the use of local or native botanicals to create exciting new expressions of our favourite Mother’s Ruin – curry leaves, seaweed, angry ants, sheep whey, the list goes on.
I have been on my personal gin journey since 2013 when gin was having a prior comeback. Now we are treated to festivals like Junipalooza where gin cavalries come together for a weekend to dazzle taste buds with their offerings. They come with hopes to ‘beat’ each other (whilst educating), to earn a deserving spot in every juniper enthusiasts’ home bar. Exciting times indeed!
Junipalooza in Melbourne’s Meat Market last month was my third gin festival, the first one being Junipalooza London back in 2015. Organized by the lads from Gin Foundry, they are currently planning for their 5th installment in London next year. Its Melbourne counterpart , co-organised by The Gin Queen, Caroline Childerly, is heading into its 3rd year.
This year Junipalooza Melbourne turned 2 with the help of 32 different gin brands featuring local favourites, newcomers and the world renowned. The surge in gin diversity has naturally seen a rise in tonic varieties. Newcomers StrangeLove truly compliment the growing craft gin scene in Australia – their Dirty Tonic is my favourite! Fentimans were also on hand providing many options for a refreshing standalone drink or cocktail mixer – their Pink Grapefruit tonic is absolutely delicious! Passionate distillers were on deck speaking about their creations, collaborative distilling, experimenting with native botanicals and the future of the spotlight spirit – a true gin geek haven!
The success of festivals like Junipalooza are a result of consumer demand. To quote Childerly, “Consumers are way more engaged and interested about where their produce (whether it’s food or booze) comes from..” Gin is going and has been going through a renaissance.
+ Pride in witnessing WA brands flying the flag at Junipalooza. Here’s looking at you OLD YOUNG’S and GINIVERSITY.
+ Rediscovering Australian favourites & bringing some home with me; FOUR PILLARS and ANIMUS.
+ Checking gins off my long to-taste list ; MANLY SPIRITS, BROOKIES, NEVER NEVER and PATIENT WOLF.
+ Inspiring stories behind some gins; KEW, BROOKIES and BROKEN HEART .
+ Insightful Q&A sessions and Masterclasses. Collaborative Distilling was my personal favourite.
+ Tasting new gin offerings ; the Old B.A.G barrel aged gin by Old Youngs B.A.G, Bangkok Gin by Hippocampus – a collaboration with Long Chim inspired by Thai flavours, Liverpool Vs Collingwood gin by Dodds and Craft & Co. Creativity was in abundance!
+ The craft ice cream booth 196 Below – their salted caramel martini ice cream was life changing.
+ Distillers and their Passion – It was a testament to what a great industry this is and reminded me why I embarked on my own gin journey.
My gin soaked tips
1. Go with a friend – it’s always more fun.
2. Eat beforehand– soakage!
3. Stay hydrated
4. Pace yourself – go the G&T route vs neat if necessary.
5. Plan your festival – pick the brands you’d like to try first and work your way around.
I hear exciting things are in the works for Junipalooza Melbourne 2018. In the meantime, early bird tickets for Junipalooza London 2018 are now on sale. I might just see you there! Till the next gin soaked adventure – stay inspired.
UPDATE: Some Early Bird tickets left for Junipalooza Melbourne 2018. Click here for some juniper fun! See you there.