Over 120 people have made their own gin the Melbourne in the past six months. Don’t worry, there hasn’t been an outbreak of rampant bootlegging and no one will be dying of methanol poisoning; this is how many people who have taken one of Bass and Flinders Distillery Gin Masterclasses so far.
We trotted along on a very, very chilly Melbourne afternoon to the Stables at Como House where we were ushered onto a small detached room with the most glorious aroma of gin. Each place at the table was set out with a paper placemat with about 10 individually distilled botanicals and a bigger glass of juniper and syringes for exact measuring.
The Masterclasses have been specially designed by the distillery to replicate the process of creating a professional standard gin without distilling a whole batch. Under the careful instruction of distiller Bob Laing we start with juniper and earthy notes like coriander, angelica root and sweet almond, then in another glass the lighter notes like pepperberry, citrus, cassia bark (cinnamon), chilli and cardamom. Tasting as you go is essential, but your ability to judge what you are tasting, and keep track of what you’ve put in, lessens rapidly throughout the process. I found myself heading to the cheese table time and again in an attempt recover senses.
The botanicals were surprisingly unpredictable. Regular readers will know I loathe coriander, but the distilled coriander seeds tasted nothing like coriander. Cardamom is so incredibly pungent that even 1mL can overpower your whole your whole blend. Ginger has almost no flavour when distilled, so it’s cold infused instead, which is almost as strong as the cardamom.
I managed to come up with three blends before I got to the point where really, everything tasted the same. My second blend was my favourite. I wrote it up on the form and in the coming weeks a whole bottle of my blend will be arrive in the post. At the end of the year they will make up every blend from the Masterclasses will be made and tasted by professionals and the one chosen as the best will be added to the Bass and Flinders commercial range, with a percentage of profits going to talented ametuer. So who knows, maybe there will be a Ginstress Gin available next year.
Bass and Flinders Distillery Gin Masterclasses are available at their distillery on the Mornington Peninsula, at the Stables at Como House and The Wine House. Keep an eye on their website for dates at details. Cost is $120 per person/place.
Disclaimer The Gentleman Gin Drinker and I attended the Masterclass as guests of Bass and Flinders. While I appreciate the generosity of this gift, my appreciation has not influenced this article.