Bass and Flinders: Pioneers of Artisanal Gin
Bass & Flinders Distillery is a small scale, locally-owned Mornington Peninsula distillery located in the stunning Dromana with a true sense of place. Taking inspiration from surroundings distilling high quality, bespoke spirits that take flavours from Red Hill to Cape Schanck. All of products embody the true holiday nature of the Mornington Peninsula.
Founded in 2009 as an artisanal distillery producing small batch grape based spirits. Using a traditional alembic pot still and a passion for adventure Bass & Flinders set out to create a range of handcrafted spirits including brandies, gins and liqueurs.
Bass & Flinders was the first distillery in the region one of the first established Australian craft spirit distilleries. The inspiration for founding a distillery surrounded by vineyards was simple – stay true to the region through use of local produce wherever possible, and the distillation of grapes to produce fine spirits. From an admiration for hand crafted, premium aged spirits through the distillation of grapes, taking inspiration from traditional French Charentaise production methods.
The vision was driven by a family passion to produce premium products solely through the distillation of grapes, that capture the essence of our home on the Mornington Peninsula, and showcase expertise and versatility.
Every distillery has their own narrative.
Like their namesakes, Bass and Flinders are committed to continually exploring the infinite possibilities to create unique small-batch, handcrafted drinks staying true to their region. The Mornington Peninsula and its abundance of flora is a driving influence when curating a flavour profile, overlayed with sustainability and availability of produce. Bass and Flinders not only use unique local botanicals but hand forage a lot of our ingredients. It's not uncommon to arrive at the distillery and see locally foraged kelp or strawberry gum hanging over the fence!
With a purpose to always stay dedicated to the true craft of distilling for the ultimate drinking pleasure, Bass and Flinders are one of the few distilleries to produce your own eau de vie, grape-based spirit, from a single vineyard from Victorian grapes. Shiraz and Chardonnay grapes are the go-to and then they are double distilled into a bright and fruity eau de vie in small batches using an Alembic Pot Still. Producing the base spirit provides a viscosity and profile unlike any other form of base spirit. It adds to the overall flavour profile and enjoyment of the end product as it created a more refined and smooth. A dedicated approach to distilling is rarely seen in the industry with a first-hand experience from vine to bottle.
With the environmental elements and the techniques used by Head Distiller Holly Klintworth, one of only two second generation distillers in Australia, makes Bass and Flinders incredibly unique.
The story of Orient gin
One of the most recent additions the Orient Gin is is complex yet incredibly smooth, with lingering flavours and a little kick from the addition of a little Sichuan pepper. This gin was created as a nod to the heritage of our founders who are of Chinese descent, but also to compliment our countries love affair with flavours from the East (but with all locally sourced ingredients, of course).
Distiller Recipe for Orient Gin
This gin packs a real flavour punch - botanicals such as mandarin, kaffir lime, sesame, Victorian Jujunes (red dates) and native Strawberry gum coupled with our grape-based spirit mean that it doesn't need a lot of extra intervention to be enjoyed.
30ml Bass and Flinders Orient Gin
60ml Fever Tree Clementine Tonic
Dehydrated orange wheel
Cassia or cinammon stick
- Combine all ingredients into a generously iced Gin balloon
- Garnish with cassia or cinammon stick
With a play on unique botanicals such as ant pheromones in Angry Ant Gin to apple cider and cassia bark in Winter Gin, and hibiscus rosella and cherries in Cerise Gin, we at Gin Birds headquarters ask what is next! Today they are experimenting with a blend of brandy and cognac, but have shelved most plans like many other distillers today focused on producing hand sanitiser for the Australian community during these difficult times.
The life of a Australian craft distiller
Bass and Flinders talk about how wonderful it is to belong to the Australian craft industry, which is extremely supportive especially amongst the distillers themselves, and through craft spirits fans who are willing to pay extra to support local.
Some challenges do exist however as Australian craft spirits still only makes up <1% of total spirits consumed in Australia which shows there's a lot of opportunity for growth, and a lot more people need to convince to choose Aussie spirits over international brands, which can be challenging due to the struggle to compete on price. Excise tax is the single most important challenge every Aussie distillery faces, being taxed much higher than brewers or winemakers, and is something they are consistently lobbying the government for to seek relief and further support. Today Bass and Flinders pay $24 per bottle of gin sold.
With all the challenges however Australian gin remains unique with the sheer number of flavours and aromas accessible in our own backyard is astounding, and yet to full explore all of these as an industry and this makes future of craft gin all the more exciting. When Bass and Flinders released Angry Ant Gin they were looking for native flavours a little left of centre - such as the ant pheremones - to show gin lovers just how diverse and interesting Aussie gin can be. There is so much more to be discovered.
Their purpose, we are told, always has been and always will be to stay dedicated to the true craft of distilling for the ultimate drinking pleasure of customers.
This racy gin is bursting with flavours of sweet mandarin, native strawberry gum and kaffir lime leaf. Jujubes & native wattleseed create texture and Sichuan pepper increased the depth of flavour.
Written by Suzan Temizer and Bass and Flinders.
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