A few years ago my friend Belinda travelled solo across Australia in her V8 Holden Commodore, with a mission of visiting as many craft gin distilleries as possible (a girl after my own heart).
Travelling more than 12000km (including the Nullarbor) she introduced herself to dozens of regional craft gin-makers, from Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills to as far afield as Busselton. She spent her days talking gin and learning about the industry.
Her gin adventure turned out to be life changing, because when she got back to the Gold Coast she realised her true passion was the wonderful world of craft distilleries.
She’s become a huge advocate for Australian-made spirits, telling me only 1% of all alcohol in Australia is actually made in Australia.
“We need as many people as possible speaking about Aussie spirits, the quality here is high and we have so many unique botanicals on our doorstep. Each craft gin is a regional Australian experience and a reflection of its locale.”
Belinda has built up a following on Instagram with stunning photos of her gin cocktails: patronsaintofgin
While chatting with fellow gin-stagramer Hee Chung (onedrinkaday) at a Brisbane gin festival, they came up with the wicked idea of making their own gin and bringing it to market.
“The research part was great fun, we tested lots of different combinations using loads of different botanicals. We wanted our first gin to be easy on the palate and a tipple that most people would enjoy even if they weren’t necessarily gin drinkers.”
They arrived at a light, sweet and simple blend of six botanicals; juniper, orris root, angelica root, orange peel, chamomile flowers and whole vanilla bean, made on an alcohol base made from molasses to give it a relaxed and soothing note.
After a 2-hour brainstorm they settled on a name for their gin – and the beautiful Amulet was born.
“We partnered with Lord Byron Distillery in Byron Bay to make, bottle and sell Amulet, and we’ve just sold the last of our 285 bottles. We’ve had some great feedback, ‘very smashable’ someone said.”
“Bringing our gin to life was a brilliant experience. It was easy enough to make and bottle our gin, the hard part was convincing people to buy it. We soon realised that despite having a collective following of nearly 200,000 on Instagram, Amulet was by no means an overnight sell-out.”
“The support from many of our online friends was overwhelming though, and our favourite experience has been the Amulet cocktails and reviews appearing online. Such a thrill to see!”
“Sales is a tough game for craft distillers, who mainly rely on cellar door sales. Most people just go to their local bottle shop, Dan Murphy’s or First Choice. So getting our gin into the hands and homes of gin drinkers was a rewarding feeling.”
While coronavirus lockdown means she can’t travel right now, Belinda is still managing to get her hands on Australia’s top craft gins through her subscription with Gin Lane.
“The crew at Gin Lane carefully curate new craft gins from around Australia, and a new bottle arrives on my doorstep every month. I add it to my ‘Gin Wing’, my collection of around 200 gins.”
Of course I had to ask Belinda to share one of her favourite gin cocktails with me!
Belinda’s favourite gin cocktail:
Gin Old Fashioned
- 60ml gin (preferably barrel aged but not necessary)
- 10-15ml authentic maple syrup (if you find a barrel aged one even better!)
- 1-2 dashes Orange bitters
- Orange zest
Place ice into a tumbler. Stir gin and maple syrup over ice in a mixing jug until chilled. Strain into glass, add bitters and stir lightly. Express oils from orange peel over the glass and use as garnish.
And away you go, sip sip ahhh
Hi, I’m Shannon, a travel and food blogger living on the Gold Coast in Australia. My hobbies are cafes, gin and baked goods. Sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Instagram @_eatwelltraveloften_ for more of the good stuff.
LISTEN TO MY GIN CHAT WITH BELINDA ON THE BREAD AND BUTTER PODCAST