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Water of Life – Hellfire Distillery / Kilderkin Distillery

If you have followed this series with a modicum of interest and harbour a weak spot for fantastic, artisanal spirits, Tasmania would be doubtlessly be have made it on your to-visit list quite a while ago. Visiting the southernmost state of Australia twice a year, I never cease to discover new distilleries that know to tantalise my palate with their creations.

Case in point: The Daly family. Originally known for potato production, the family eventually commenced using their crop for spirits production and formally established its operation as Hellfire Distillery four years ago.

With their creamy Potato Vodka constituting their core release, their portfolio has grown to encompass an impressive range of gins and liqueurs. Hand crafted in nature and focused in provenance, Hellfire put local rainwater to good use and infuses their distillates with Tasmanian botanicals.

My first exposure to Hellfire Distillery’s emissions was their Summer Gin, the ingredients of which read like a floral poem, with boronia flower, Tasmanian leatherwood honey, sarsaparilla root and mountain pepper berries dominating the flavour profile. While it serves perfectly to concoct a summery G&T, I find it even more enjoyable to sip neat.

The Sloe Gin expression uses berries growing wild from rural hedgerows, which after maceration are responsible for the beautifully intense colouration and the citrussy highlights which are set against a backdrop of orangey spiciness.

The flavour profile of Hellfire’s Piquant gin is more on the herbaceously bold end of the spectrum and quite refreshingly so with lemon myrtle, olive leaves and lemongrass creating intensive flavour that come to sing in a strong Martini.

The Limoncello, how else could it be, is based on the juice of specifically grown and then hand-peeled lemons and proves to be Hellfire’s spin on an Italian classic.

Now, while I love coffee, as a flavour in beers or spirits, it has never been a favourite, however, the fact that Hellfire’s way of marrying Using Colombian, Guatemalan and Ethiopian beans from Tasmanian Special to create their cold-drip Coffee Liqueur makes a regular appearance with desert should give an indication of the quality of their craft.

I certainly hope to be visiting the distillery one day and that Hellfire will hopefully start to try their hands at creating their own whiskey expression.

Produced at Kilderkin Distillery and located in the proximity of Ballarat, Larrikin Gin made a splash when after years of experimentation, they launched their first expressions in 2017.

With the Australian term “larrikin” denoting a disregard for conventions, the distillery is dedicated to paying homage to its home base, which harbours a colourful and longstanding history of both illicit and licit distilling by using traditional distilling methods, they also started to infuse the process with their own idiosyncratic and contemporary approach.

With quality and carefully calibrated flavour profiles of their gins being the main tenets, Kilderkin's artisanal gin range are infused with not only local botanicals but finetuned with ones sourced from more remote corners of this earthround to ensure that their small batches provide unique and tantalizing experiences for the distinguished palate.

Being into whiskies, Barrel Aged gins are usually my go-to when it comes to sipping gins neat.

Larrikin’s variant clocks in at 43.5% and benefits from maturation in American Oak barrels that not only previously held Bourbon, but have been further enhanced by holding Tasmanian whiskey. It is this refinement that adds a subtle well-rounded edge and delicate oak nuances, which serve as a canvas on which the Juniper and carefully selected botanicals unfold their vibrancy. The choice of casks imbues Larrikin’s Barrel-Aged expression with unique characteristics that with such delicately pronounced highlights is rarely found in the wild. Delicious on its own – no need for mixers.

Ready to step things up a notch?

Larrikin’s Sunburnt Country – Bush Tucker gin could not be more on the nose as far as the telling nomenclature is concerned: What we have here is Kilderkin creating a quintessential Australian gin, with provenance and native botanicals taking centre stage.

With the alcoholic potency locked in to be the % equivalent of the highest temperature that was ever recorded on terra australis, i.e. 50.7, every facet of this expression is an ode to down under.

Not unlike it was the case with the Barrel Aged Gin, Kilderkin Distillery’s scientific precision comes into play in the flavour department with the broader brushstrokes derived from the dominant botanicals being masterfully counterpointed by citrussy highlights, zesty lime and the faintest hint of both sweet and tarty plum flavours.

Going by the consistent quality of their gins, I can only hope that Kilderkin Distillery will channel their alchemy in the creation of their own whiskey expression sooner than later.


images from company websites

July 15, 2021

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