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Water of Life – Big River Distilling

Updated: May 11

Within the five years of its existence, Canberra-based Big River Distilling has established itself as a veritable heavyweight on the firmament of Australian craft gin distilleries, which is not further wondrous given the Chief Beverage Engineer’s expertise and highly developed palate in the realm of winemaking and viticulture, which served as a foundation from which he set out to reinterpret and innovate what gin could be.

If I had a pinpoint the DNA of Big River Distilling’s approach to channelling its alchemy in the realm of artisan gin creation, I would condense it to the middle ground between citrussy, savoury, herbal and floral notes in a bid to pay homage to the Canberra terroir as well as to local botanicals , thereby counterpointing alcoholic notes and the endeavour to have it culminate in a crisp finish.

The fact that Big River Distilling’s bottles are easy on the eye with labels being created by local artists does not hurt either.

My first exposure to Big River Distilling was via their core expression, i.e. the Canberra Dry Gin, which is essentially a nod to the much lauded, tried and tested London Dry style. Infused with botanicals from the Canberran environs, it adds an idiosyncratic note and sense of place and character to it.

With juniper notes assertively taking centre stage, flanked by the grounding, earthy characteristics of angelica root, liquorice and cassia, the subtly nuanced citrussy highlights are derived from a melange of lemon myrtle, oranges, coriander and lime.

What I love about the Canberra Dry Gin is the well-calibrated spectrum of flavours, with the aforementioned being further accentuated and rounded out with Australian mountain pepper leaf, which adds a distinctly spicy and savoury dimension without being overpowering.

The remarkably long finish culminated with the slightest hint of cucumber, leaving one lusting for another sip.

Given the complexity of the drop, I find that adding tonic is only detracting from the experience and I can only hope that Big River Distilling is considering to branch out into the creation of their own whiskey range soon.


T • April 21, 2022

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