There was an exciting buzz in the air to hear that Animus Distillery had selected Kyneton as a destination for their Cellar Door and Gin lounge. We chatted with the founders about Animus Gin Lounge and the experience they crave for their visitors.
Welcome to Kyneton! What makes Animus Gin different to other Gins?
We are Craft spirit geeks! Our gins are obsessively handcrafted, and many of the botanicals we use we grow ourselves. We release all our gins overproofed at 50%ABV as we feel this is the best way to display the rich complexity and depth of our fresh botanicals, whilst maintaining the balance and flexibility to be enjoyed neat as a sipping gin, or in a range of cocktails.
Can you tell us about yourselves? What kept you occupied before you created Animus Gin?
We have a range of backgrounds in science, medicine and corporate managers/team leaders, and we all currently work in professional jobs. Joel and Aaron both work as doctors in the public health system, Rob works as a manager in the private sector and Luke is a team leader in the public service sector. We’ve all been friends for about a decade, and our shared interest in fine wine and spirits led us to start our own venture, with the aim of creating the best possible Australian spirits we could, without compromise.
Can you tell us about the Animus Gin distillation process?
We start with super-premium Australian grain spirit, then triple filter this using our custom gravity fed carbon filtration system, to provide the cleanest possible base for capturing the essence of our botanicals. We grow many of the botanicals ourselves, to ensure we have the freshest ingredients for our gins. We keep the distillation process relatively simple in order to maintain focus on the contribution of our botanicals- all our botanicals are prepared fresh and sit in a basket through which the alcohol vapour passes, capturing the rich flavours of the ingredients before reaching the condenser where it is cooled back to our liquid Ggin. Distilling in this basket pressed way allows us to achieve a balance between some of the lighter floral elements and the richer oilier elements in our gins, and avoiding some of the overly “stewed” characters. We think this works particularly well when it comes to getting the best out of the fresh citrus we use.
Can you explain the Australian native ingredients you use in your botanical baskets?
For our Classic Dry Gin we aimed to create a bold, citrus-forward gin with a long, complex “baking spice” finish, built primarily around traditional gin ingredients, but with some distinctly Australian elements. For this recipe, we have included mountain pepper berry and lemon myrtle. Mountain pepperberry provides a spicy edge, along with contributing to the rich oily mouthfeel. Lemon myrtle has a characteristic lifted citrus flavour which when used in very small quantities.
Arboretum Gin is our most herbaceous gin, and also the most complex in terms of a recipe. We’ve used mountain pepperberry, along with strawberry gum which is native to the tablelands of New South Wales. This sensational eucalyptus leaf contributes subtle musk, vanilla and strawberry flavours that provide a sweet, almost chewy edge to this predominantly savoury herbaceous gin. Bush Tomato is a native fruit that grows on shrubs in the arid regions of Australia. Their flavour is similar to a spicy tamarillo with a hint of sticky raisin.
For Ambrosian gin, we have used some quite different ingredients for our recipe. Although kaffir lime is not native to Australia, we grow the plants ourself- we’ve also used fresh Australian mandarins, fresh numeric, galangal and ginger, along with white sesame to create this modern gin, inspired by South East Asian ingredients.
You have won so many fabulous awards in such a short time. What is your most coveted award and why? Which award would you ideally want to win?
We spent almost two years developing and refining our recipes before releasing any of our gins to the market, as we wanted to release the best possible gins we could. A large part of that time was spent learning how each of our ingredients behaved in distillation and what each ingredient contributed to various aspects of the nose and palate of our gins, along with how we could create a harmonious balance between these. Using the palate of unique ingredients we have access to in Australia, the four of us couldn’t agree on just one gin recipe, so we found over time that our ideas coalesced into three distinctly different gin expressions.
We have been thrilled with the reception we have had thus far, particularly the fact that each of our three gins won a medal at the last two awards we entered, as we value the feedback from the expert judges who assess these awards. The Arboretum winning gold at the Melbourne International was fantastic news for us, as it was our first gold medal. We certainly aspire to keep pushing the quality of our gins to an international award-winning standard, but ultimately, the greatest satisfaction for us is seeing and hearing the enjoyment of our customers.
Which Gins would your ideal Gin cabinet contain (other than your own of course!)?
Our favourite craft spirits are pretty much universally those that convey a unique sense of identity and place, based on the ingredients and techniques they use. With this in mind, we love the following:
- Monkey 47
- Poor Toms Fool Strength
- Westwinds Broadside
- Koval Dry Gin
- Kangaroo Island Spirits Old Tom Gin
What’s your favourite way to serve Animus Gin?
All of our Gins are different, which we have created to be used as a palate of options to create unique and exciting cocktails. My personal preference is for Classic Dry as a Negroni, Ambrosian as a Martini with a twist and Arboretum as a Gimlet or neat on ice.
We are excited that you have selected Kyneton as the location of your new Animus Gin Lounge and Cellar Door, what ultimately made you choose the area?
We have had our eye on the Macedon area for a while as the place where we wanted to move and expand our business. This region of central Victoria has some really incredible wine and food, and a very appreciative local food culture. Kyneton and particularly Piper street is well known for its gourmet food and wine, and we wanted to be a part of this growing enthusiasm for the area and hopefully provide some extra attraction and a point of difference with our craft distillery.
Can you explain the experience you’re wishing to impart on visitors?
We want to provide a relaxing cocktail lounge, where people can sink back and enjoy a gin flight, cocktail, fine wine, whisky or craft beer surrounded by warm tunes and accompanied by the aromas of our Animus Gin being produced fresh in this space.
We enjoy producing our Gin and we would love to offer a space for people to see and learn about the process, feel our passion and go home with their own bottle of Animus Gin. We hope you like our gins as much as we do, and we look forward to hopefully seeing you soon!