Our next distillery article takes us to Distillery Botanica in Erina NSW, the home of Moore’s Dry Vintage Gin, one of the original Australian craft gins, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur and the new Distillery Botanica Gin.
With the recent explosion of micro distilleries and Australian craft spirits, it’s easy to forget that only a few years ago, the industry was relatively unknown with only a handful of distillers.
Distillery Botanica, The Fragrant Garden
Distillery Botanica was established in 2006 by distiller Philip Moore who was the founder of Renaissance Herbs. A year later, he began producing liqueurs and spirits using 100% native Australian botanicals. The aniseed myrtle liqueur came first, followed by lemon myrtle liqueur, mountain pepperberry and wild lime liqueur, before production included vodka and gin.
The Distillery Garden
Distillery Botanica is set within two and a half acres of picturesque gardens with lush greenery, herbs and flowers. The distillery was previously called St Fiacre Distillery after St Fiacre, the patron saint of gardening but since most people couldn’t pronounce the French name (fee-ackr), the name was changed in 2010 to reflect its natural setting.
Still and Condenser
A tasting room near the entrance allows a peek into the stills, the bottling and labelling which is all done by hand.
Close up of Still
Moore started with a 600L pot still made in Tasmania then added a swan neck and condenser.
Philip Moore, Owner and Distiller
The column still has 6 distillation chambers, pressing a lever activates a chamber. “Its purpose is to clean the alcohol,” Moore explains. “It has a special rock on a drum that traps bad smells. We use a rock instead of activated carbon so as to not to strip flavour.”
Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin
L-R: Distillery Botanica Gin, Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin
Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin (40% ABV) is one of the original Australian gins and has won a silver medal in the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. The base spirit is wheat and the word “vintage” is used to account for minor variations between batches. Moore uses herbaceous juniper, Australian coriander which gives orange peel and peppery character, wild lime from Rockhampton which is a cross between lime and grapefruit that gives bitterness on the back palate, macadamia for texture, Illawarra plum for a slightly sweet juniper fruit character, and liquorice in very mild ppm for sweetness. All botanicals are distilled separately via vapour infusion then blended.
Distillery Botanica Gin
Solidified Coconut Oil used in Enfleurage
When it comes to the new Distillery Botanica Gin, Moore uses a thousand year old process called “enfleurage” for some of the botanicals, namely rose and Murraya. The petals are laid on a metal tray containing solidified coconut oil then covered, allowing the aromas to seep through into the solidified oil. The fat is then placed into a container with alcohol and frozen. The coconut oil solidifies and the alcohol is run off.
The Murraya is extracted twice, once by enfleurage, and by vapour infusion. The former has a much more delicate scent while the latter imparts a jasmine-like scent. The juniper distillate is obtained by vapour infusion as well as maceration and distillation in thea pot still, the latter giving a richer and more resin-like flavour.
German berggarten sage, chamomile from the garden and orris root distillates are obtained via pot distillation. Australian coriander undergoes a 12 hour maceration and distillation process. Orris root, which gives the gin a sweet and viscous mouthfeel with a bitter finish, has a violent scent. Along with the earthy and musky angelica, it holds the gin together. You can read the Distillery Botanica Gin tasting notes here.
Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
Pump & Plate Used in Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
The production of Mr Black Coffee Liqueur is naturally kept close to heart. The coffee beans are now roasted by Campos, infused in grain-based alcohol and water, then put through a wine press to press out the juice. The liquid is left to settle and for the sediment to drop down. “It’s called “racking”, then a pump and a plate suck the liquid in,” Moore explains. Racking occurs three times instead of filtering out the sediments then sugar is added. The liquid is then run through a coarse filter when bottling.
Distillery Botanica Cellar Door
Distillery Botanica has a tasting room when visitors can sample and purchase various spirits and liqueurs. Well worth sampling are the Raspberry Liqueur produced by maceration with 1 kg of fruit per litre, the Raspberry Schnapps which is handcrafted in German style and Absinthe Reverie, a silver medal winner in the 2013 IWSC.
Then and Now: St Fiacre Distillery / Distillery Botanica
We first visited the distillery in December 2011 while holidaying on the Central Coast and returned in March 2016 for this article. Here are some photos taken during the original visit when the distillery was in the process of changing its name.
Distillery Botanica is located at 25 Portsmouth Road, Erina NSW on the Central Coast, an easy ninety minutes’ drive from Sydney. Portsmouth Rd is located off Terrigal Drive between Erina Fair and Terrigal Beach. Look for the sign “Distillery Botanica” on the left hand side of the road as you head towards Terrigal.
Distillery Botanica is featured in our Guide to the Central Coast.
25 Portsmouth Road, Erina NSW 2250
Ph: 02 4365 3968
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