Sitting on Mount Arthur, on the tip of the Tasman Peninsula, McHenry Distillery is one of Australia’s southernmost distilleries and with a wide range of whiskeys, vodkas and gins, has an enviable and uniquely Australian feel.
In fact, it’s very Australian.
Several years ago, Parliament House approached McHenry when they were considering creating a bespoke gin. This project was shelved, with McHenry instead supplying their regular dry gin, but the bespoke idea remained.
When asked to create a bespoke gin for the 30-year anniversary of the new Parliament House, Bill McHenry knew that it needed to be more than just a unique style, it required something that symbolised the country itself. He decided that Federation Gin would include a botanical from each Australian State and territory, gathered lovingly by indigenous Australians.
Sounds simple – identify a botanical from each state, then you’ve got a unique taste that everyone loves. Except that mother nature if a cruel mistress and Australian botanicals are seasonal, resulting in limited releases based on the time of year. The McHenry team needed to find botanicals that were available and complimented each other.
So, eight botanicals were needed to represent the states and territories, and on the table in front of Bill were nearly forty. The job was mammoth, which of these would work well with each other? Which may dominate the other too much? What about the availability? There’s no point in making a great gin that can’t be duplicated because the rain starts falling!
Eventually, the following botanicals were selected for the gin:
Mountain Pepper Leaf from the ACT, Cinnamon Myrtle from Victoria, and Wattle Seed from South Australia combine to add the savoury, nutty, spicy base notes that come to the fore when first tasting Federation Gin. Lemon Myrtle from Queensland, Strawberry Gum from New South Wales, Quandong from Western Australia and Kakadu Plum from the Northern Territory balance this out with light floral, fruity and citrusy high notes that are a little less obvious at first.
Finally, and perhaps most interesting is the Celery Top Pine, a native of Tasmania. This is the botanical adding those familiar junipery pine notes to the Federation. If you’ve never tried it before, you’re not alone; Federation is its first use it as a botanical in gin and we look forward to seeing its inclusion more in the future.
How should you be drinking this one? We think it’s an incredibly versatile gin thanks to that blend of savoury, sweet and floral botanicals.
With the colder weather we’re having at the moment, playing with the warm, spicy notes of the Federation is the way to go. Mix up a gin mule with a quality ginger beer (good for keeping those colds at bay), rather than the traditional G&T.
Of course, we’re right in the middle of negroni week and Federation is a classy gin for this classic drink. If like us you prefer a little more of the gin to come through, feel free to up the ratio of gin in your negroni (you won’t regret it.)
A classic recipe is:
- 30 ml Campari
- 30 ml Sweet Vermouth
- 30 ml Gin
Fill an old fashioned glass with good ice.
Add equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and gin and stir well.
Garnish with a slice of orange.
We’ll generally up the gin to 45-60 ml in this recipe. For a really Australian twist, use Maidenii Sweet Vermouth and Applewood distillery’s Økar Amaro instead of Campari.
While you’re waiting for your negroni to settle, why not try Federation neat? This is a wonderfully smooth, drinkeable gin which will have you coming back to it again and again. The more we sit with it, the more notes and botanicals we seem to discover.
However you choose to drink it, enjoy!