Royal Exhibition Gin Review

This is definitely the most self-indulgent gin review I’ve ever written, you can’t taste this gin, there will never be another bottle of this gin. I distilled this gin myself with William McHenry from McHenry Distillery.

I was at the Australian Drinks Festival at the Royal Exhibition Hall (hence the name) in Melbourne last year, and William had brought along his teeny little still so people could distill their own little gins, which is just what I did.


You can see here how the little still works. The neutral alcohol goes into the flask which is placed in an electric heater. When the alcohol reaches a certain temperature (which I can’t remember, sorry!), you add your selected dried botanicals. As the alcohol begins to boil it would travel up into that little glass condenser on the left, and then down into a little jug out of frame. Pretty easy and really fun.

The neutral spirit was William’s vodka.


I chose to go really simple with my botanicals. I’ve done quite a few classes where I’ve blended individually distilled botanicals to make a gin, and I’ve never done very well with it. I always want to put in ALLLLL the botanicals and it ends up tasting terrible. So I chose just five:

Licorice root
Coriander seeds
Lemon thyme
Black pepper


I was so happy with my gin! So much better then my blending attempts.

The scent is really junipery, of course, love my juniper! With the savory lemon thyme note sings through too.

On the palate, the juniper and lemon thyme are at the front with the licorice root offering a sweetness in the middle and black pepper as a spicy top note. The coriander seed melts into an earthy background.


My gin is just perfect of a bone dry martini with a twist of lemon. The sweetness from the licorice makes it a bit too sweet for an olive garnish.

I gave it a go in a gin and tonic and at first, it was awful. The Fever-tree Indian tonic water opened up at licorice way too much and it ended up being way too sweet. Quite sickly. I had a good search through the fridge and found some pickled green peppercorns which I thought, rinsed and cracked, this could be great. Nope, didn’t cut it. Then I remembered that I had a little sample bottle of 100% pure organic lemon essential oil. The bottle didn’t have a proper dropper so I accidentally put about 3 drops into my gin and tonic (one drop would do), and my friends it was so bloody delicious! I loved it. I’m now super excited about working with essential oils in gin and tonics and cocktail.

A quick note on essential oils, many of them are not safe to be consumed. I will be doing research and working with only safe, 100% pure oils.

While you can’t try my gin, you can get yourself to Tasmania and distill your own the McHenry Distillery! You can find out more and book here.

Disclaimer I was given the opportunity to distill this gin for free courtesy of McHenry Distillery. While I appreciate the generosity of this gift, my appreciation has not influenced this article.

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