Oxley Gin

Oxley Gin bottleTwo real treats arrived for me off the plane from England. First, my good friend Marty, back from a couple of years as Brand Ambassador and general rapscallion for 42 Below over in England. The second treat was the hip flask of Oxley Gin Martin had slipped into his luggage.

I had first heard bout Oxley over at the Dizzy Fizz, and a few times on Twitter. Marty managed to fill in a few more juicy details.

Oxley has been developed by Bacardi, in response to an acknowledgement that the traditional style, premium Gin segment is growing very quickly and that the stalwart of their portfolio, Bombay Sapphire, doesn’t really deliver a good enough juniper hit amongst its 12 beautiful, if a little floral, botanicals.  Bombay uses the Carter Head still, reckoned by many to be the pinnacle of distillation.

Oxley is a big step away from the Carter Head still. Bacardi have patented a new type of still, to produce the spirit at sub zero temperatures. At sea level, the world over, alcohol is known to boil away at 78.3 degrees Celsius and water at 100. It is precisely this gap that makes the wonderful process of distillation possible. What some smart bastard at Bacardi must have noticed is that boiling points drop at higher altitude. Boiling a pot of water on Everest will only be tepid, as opposed to piping hot. Getting stuff to boil at sub zero temperature requires considerably more effort, there being no mountains higher than Everest and running a still in an unpressurized plane being frightfully expensive.

Now, according to the marketing spiel, the process is a closely guarded secret, distillation occurs at -5, then at -100 the vapour is cooled back into pure, lovely Gin. It does sound  very fancy and hard to work out. However, it’s really not. Those standard temperatures for boiling are at 760 mm Hg, which is an expression of pressure, as measured by mercury in a vacuum, or barometer, as it has come to be known. What Bacardi have done is to create a still whose pressure can be cranked down to a mere 12.6mm Hg approximately 1/350 of the normal pressure on earth. Which pretty much means they create an environment pretty close to the atmospheric pressure on the Moon. (actually about ten times the Moon’s pressure, but it’s a factor of ten we can’t really measure). Water would boil around 11 degrees at that pressure.

The point of all this physics (for any of you who are still reading) is that in normal distallation, the heat quite literally cooks the botanicals, degrading them and bringing out odd tastes, the freezy method means the 14 botanicals that Oxley includes stay snap frozen fresh. The result is a Gin that is very smooth, with good juniper and a nice balance of grapefruits. A little less spicy than the Beefeater 24, but very much its own thing as well.

The leather strapping, the tin bucket, the four day a week production schedule, the 240 bottle batches, the individual numbers all point toward a pretty special product. The 60 pound price tag will be seen by many (including me) as taking the piss, in the same way Absolut’s  Level did with vodka.

All that said, I can’t wait to try it in a martini.

Cocktail, Spirit, Sydney

Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin

GIN-700mlOne of the real gems that I found at the Bar Show was Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin, produced only an hour’s drive (on a good day without traffic) outside of Sydney at the St. Fiacre Distillery on the beautiful central coast.

Handcrafted by self proclaimed wizard of the still, Philip Moore, this Vintage Dry Gin is the product of a sevenfold blend of vapour infused distallates. These are produced in a Carter Head still.

Now you may have noticed a level of explanation that I don’t usually go to, and there is a very good reason for that. There are only reckoned to be five operational Carter Head stills on this green earth and guess who has used one to produce a delightful, delicate Gin that has taken the world by storm? who else but Hendricks, of course. They too blend a number of infused distillates together to create their masterpiece.

Where Hendricks could be taken as a Scottish thumbing of noses at the bastions of English Gin conventions, Moore’s is an unashamedly Australian affair. A strong and pleasantly oily citrus base of grapefruits, Tahitian limes and wild limes from Queensland forms the base flavour and takes it towards Tanqueray Ten or Beefeater 24 territory. Setting this Gin firmly on its own in the marketplace is the addition of four Australian botanicals. Cinnamon Myrtle, Coriander seeds, Illawarra Plum and Macadamia nut give a very different finish, smooth, subtle and pleasurably different.

The branding is a bit crap, it certainly doesn’t do the product inside the bottle justice and with my marketing hat on it’s going to be tough for the brand to have the sort of success that Hendricks has, with the way its speaking now.

However, you should still find yourself a bottle, because (1) its great to have a local product that has been made this well and tastes this good, (2) you can be the cool kid introducing something before everyone knows about it, (3) It will be amazing in a long G&T or Collins this Sydney summer and (4) you can’t buy this in America (and with FDA approval of non-US native botanicals being what it is, you maybe never will be)

Philip Moore also produces a range of Australian liqueurs (38.00), which are on sale alongside the Gin (49.95) on the St. Fiacre Distillery web store if you can’t find it in a local store, or make the trip up the coast.

There’s a reason I mention the liqueurs. I’d like to update a David Wondrich cocktail to make something a little more local.

The Central Coast Classic.

60 mls Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin, 10 mls Native Plant Spirits Mandarin Liqueur, a couple of dashes of Fee’s Rhubarb Bitters. Give that a good stir over ice in a tin, and strain it over a couple of big ice cubes in an old fashioned glass and I have been garnishing pretty much everything with the peel of those amazing blood oranges that are in season right now.