PETER LOWRY OF THE LIBRARY BAR, WELLINGTON ON WHY CHOOSING GIN IS MUCH TOUGHER THAN DRINKING GIN.
It’s populist, versatile, reasonably easy to produce, generally appropriately priced and can be tailored to the taste of the producers or to reflect the flavours of its region. These are the reasons that led to the popularity of gin, which started its journey in 1751 on its way to becoming the world’s favourite spirit. Though an easy product to produce, it’s fairly difficult to produce a great product. So why is gin the ideal ‘craft’ spirit? As it can be produced quite quickly – almost a ‘distill and go’ – small producers can create and then sell their product without the financial burden of ageing.
No waiting for 14 years in a barrel, and a spot of bad weather at the wrong time won’t ruin a vintage. A lack of oppressive set rules (rule 1: use juniper, rule 2: be boozy) means that individuals can stamp their style, locality, subconscious bias, their own tastes and motives in a way that’s nigh impossible with other spirits. With the world of gin to choose from how do we at The Library curate a list of 30 gins? Like gin itself, we need a mix of spice, fruit, herbal and floral. A gin for Martinis, one for Negronis and one for Singapore Slings. A gin that you can take seriously and emphatically appreciate for its intricate elements, or simply a G&T to enjoy while you wait for your friends. At The Library bar we have a bias towards local producers.
We meet the distillers, embrace their style and tastes and see their foibles on display within their products. Wellingtonians want something new, weird and wonderful. Great coffee has taught us to respect and appreciate a well-crafted product and craft beer has taught us to try anything once. Now you are ready to graduate to gin!.
Peter’s top picks….
(MARTINBOROUGH, NZ) HAWTHORN EDITION GIN
A great example of a bartender seeing a gap in supply and telling a producer about it over impromptu drinks in Greytown. Said bartender then turning up to work to find a new Navy Strength Gin ready to go. In the tradition of its conception, a naval-style ‘pink gin cocktail’ is the perfect way to enjoy the Hawthorn Edition.
(YARRA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA) BLOODY SHIRAZ GIN
A wonderful gin variant is sloe gin, a Victorian-style gin made with rather odd little sloe berries. An excellent example of a regional expression is the Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz. No sloe berries in the Yarra Valley but there sure are Shiraz grapes. The substitute of choice provides a deep red colour and juicy flavour. Makes a great gin fizz.
REID + REID
(MARTINBOROUGH, NZ) REV. DAWSON’S GIN
Juniper, juniper! Selfconfessed grumpy distiller Chris Reid states his main complaint with ‘modern’ gins is a lack of core juniper. The Rev. Dawson’s (named after his temperance-movement activist grandfather – ironic much) has bountiful juniper. This gin makes any gin classic cocktail well and makes it Kiwi as bro!
SACRED SPRINGS SUN KISSED GIN
DANCING SANDS DISTILLERY (NELSON, NZ)
Sacred Springs are not shy when it comes to experimentation. A wasabi gin and chocolate gin attest to that. The Library gin of the summer has been their rhubarb and strawberry imbued offering. As they say, “It’s a sipping gin.” Pour over ice with seasonal fruit and sip.
(PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND) ORIGINAL GIN
An old-world style gin of near perfect softness, balance and heritage. I love it because for me it is the gin of memories and joy. My girlfriend (now wife) used to sell me Plymouth Gin and I used to make her Plymouth Martinis –three parts gin to one part vermouth with a drop of orange bitters. Love gin.