The inaugural Fine Spirit Expo for Gin & Vodka took place last weekend at Rydges World Square in Sydney. Held over two days in sessions of three and a half hours, the expo featured gin and vodka tastings, and a Luxe Bar to indulge in the finest of foie gras, caviar and pearl meat paired with premium vodka and gin.
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Spirits were on taste from Australia, England, Scotland, France, Sweden, USA and the spiritual homes of vodka, Russia and Poland. There was also vermouth for those who are partial to a martini.
Here is a snapshot of some of the Expo’s highlights.
The Luxe Bar gave Expo guests the opportunity to indulge with four pairings of fine food and matching spirits for an unforgettable taste experience at additional cost.
The Foie Gras, by Edouard Artzner from Alsace, was delicate with a delicious creaminess that was paired with Boe Gin. This sipping gin from Scotland is aromatic and strong-flavoured which overpowered the foie gras in this instance.
From the House of Petrossian, Siberian Sturgeon Caviar farmed in the South West of France was matched with Petrossian Vodka. The vodka has soft aniseed aromas on the nose, is ultra smooth, luxurious on the palate with a medium finish. This was a perfect match that accentuated the creaminess and briny character of the caviar.
Oysters make pearls and pearl meat which is not wasted is harvested by Paspaley in the Kimberleys. Prepared ceviche style, the Pearl Oyster Meat was drizzled with and accompanied by Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin. There was meatiness to the oyster flesh and a crisp texture which married well with the juniper and pepper notes of the gin.
If one wished to be as decadent as the Tsar, what better than Petrossian Caviar and Imperial Collection Vodka served from a decanter after it emerges from its home inside a Faberge egg. The vodka was smooth which contrasted well with the creaminess and saltiness of the caviar making for another perfect pairing.
Gin & Vodka Tasting
Australian distillers were popular with Expo guests. Archie Rose Distillery had their Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin and Original Dry Vodka on taste as well as presenting a sensory experience with botanical distillates available to nose.
666 Vodka provided a pick me up with a delicious spiced Bloody Mary to reinvigorate palates before presenting their range of 666 Pure Tasmanian Vodka, 666 Autumn Butter Vodka and the recently released 666 St Ali Coffee Vodka which is a cold filtered coffee spirit that delivers a natural coffee flavour.
Debuting at the Expo, Ironbark Distillery from NSW make all their spirits using neutral cane spirit, all at 40% ABV. 313 Dry Gin is made from five botanicals and is warming with a long finish while the 313 Dry Wattleseed Gin is a great sipper with the addition of wattleseed. The Crystallus Vodka is soft and sweet to taste. Neither gin nor vodka, Chai Spirit is made in the same manner as the gin with vapour infused chai leaves, making for a delicious and refreshing drink.
From the New World Whisky Distillery was the latest New World Projects small batch seasonal gin, Korenwijn (43.5% ABV). Made from the same malted barley as the single malt whisky, it has been triple distilled to leave a robust spirit that has had a heavy dose of juniper to stand up to the malt. A most unconventional gin, a gin for whisky drinkers. Delicious.
Hailing from Sonoma, Califronia Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin (45% ABV) delivers plenty on the nose with fresh grassy notes, sage, citrus and hints of juniper. The citrus opens up in the glass and makes this a great sipping gin and one of the standouts of the Expo.
Produced in a genever distillery in the Netherlands, Wenneker Elderflower Gin (40% ABV) distills the elderflower separately from the botanicals, juniper and citrus to make a gin that is floral, sweet with a hint of juniper on the nose. These aromas follow through on the palate with the elderflower coming to the fore as the citrus develops and delivers a long finish.
Gin Mare, which we previously featured in our Top 10 Gin article, served up a Dirty Martini garnished with an olive so as to highlight the Mediterranean botanicals in the gin.
Edgerton Original Pink Gin (43% ABV) is a London dry style is delivers above its proof with a grapefruit and slightly bitter finish.
From New Zealand comes Fiorland Blue Duck Rare Vodka and Chatham Island Black Robin Rare Gin, both at (43% ABV). Both have a peppery kick with the vodka following on with citrus notes.
Berry Bros. & Rudd presented Karlsson’s Gold Vodka (40% ABV) from Sweden. The spirit is made from very young heirloom potatoes that have yet to form skin which delivers an unusual aroma with the taste being dry. Adding cracked black pepper to a drink amplifies the taste and finish. No 3 Gin, another of our Top 10 Gin was on taste.
The Pernod Ricard stand was bedecked with a miniature copper still to highlight the distillation process of Absolut Elyx vodka. For the gins, Beefeater 24, Plymouth Gin, another in our list of Top 10 and Plymouth Sloe Gin were available to taste.
Dry Fly Washington Dry Gin (40% ABV) makes use of local wheat and water from Washington lake to produce this gin. It has herbal, fresh, green aromas with flavours that start sweet then develop into green apple, lavender and some citrus upon tasting.
Opened in 2014 was the first distillery in Edinburgh in over 150 years. Pickering’s Gin (42% ABV) is a London Dry with citrus profile. Light on palate and slightly underwhelming, its navy strength cousin, Pickering’s Naval Strength (57.1% ABV), using the same botanicals, packs more punch with its higher proof.
Crafted in England, Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin Batch #6 (42% ABV) blends Cape Gooseberries and Baobab fruit with seven botanicals in this African-inspired gin.
Le Gin 1& 9 (40% ABV) is made in France using Jamaican pepper, orange Valencias and ginger. The aromas of pepper and spice follow through to the palate delivering heat and warmth. Le Gin 1& 9 would work well in a martini.
Polugar is an unusual wheat based spirit from Poland, touted as being between vodka and whisky. Polugar No 1 Rye & Wheat (38.5% ABV) made with equal amounts of rye and wheat has aromas of freshly baked bread and is like a new make whisky spirit.The palate is creamy with peppery with spicy notes on the finish. Polugar No 4 Honey & Allspice is the same as No1 but has been infused with honey and spices giving a Christmas cake character with loads of cinnamon and clove. This is a warming, sipping vodka.
Potocki Vodka (40% ABV) is made with rye harvested around the distillery in central Poland. This is a sweet easy sipping vodka with a nutty finish.
There were many expressions of vodka from Russia such as Beluga Noble (40% ABV) made from wheat. The vodka is sweet and peppery from the addition of a honey extract. The Imperial Collection showcased Gold Russian Vodka and the Golden Snow Russian Vodka that has 24 carat gold flakes as well as Imperial Palace Vodka which is made from a recipe from the period of Tsarist Russia. The Legend of Kremlin Vodka (40% ABV) is smooth and clean delivering plenty of heat on the palate. All of these vodkas tended to be a sweeter style.
Overall, it was a most enjoyable show with a good vibe among visitors and exhibitors. The venue was centrally located and easily accessible by public transport. The expo showcased a cross section of quality brands, many of which were new to us, which is a good reflection of the variety on taste. Seating was available allowing visitors to rest their feet, discuss their tasting or to have refreshments. The food had an Easter European take, was plentiful and replenished frequently during the sessions. Water fountains were well positioned around the tasting tables.
The Expo tapped into the growing interest and increase in the range of craft gins and white spirits as well as the continuing popularity of bar culture and the martini with opportune timing. Here’s to next year and what it brings in gin and vodka!
The Fine Spirit Expo: Gin & Vodka 2015 was held on Friday 30 and Saturday 31 October 2015 at Rydges World Square.
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