Spicing it up with Cauldron's Limited Release Christmas Gins
Some have labelled it 'Christmas cake in a bottle', others suggesting 'it tastes just like my grandmother's Christmas pudding'.
'It's all about circling back to the flavours that remind us of a particular occasion or special event,' says head distiller Darren Stewart on the release of his 2022 Christmas gin.
'In developing the recipe, we looked at all of those traditional Christmas spices and flavours, and as you know, there's the backbone of juniper but also mountain-grown oranges and ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, plus glacé cherries and a few other bits and pieces. These are the flavours that signify Christmas.
It's been a positive growth year for Tamborine Mountain's Cauldron Distillery, and this season's pre-Christmas limited releases of the Christmas gins (a pair) have proved the most popular to date. The two seasonal gins include a punchy, clean, direct from the still 'gin-clear' version; the other, a Muscat oak wine barrel-aged interpretation that intensifies the fruit-flavoured aromas due to its time in the former solara muscat barrel.
While there are other Christmas gins in the marketplace, Darren explains that only some actually 'pack the flavour' that Cauldron Distillery has managed.
'We are passionate about making gins that have unique strong, and bold flavours. So you couldn’t possibly confuse our spirits with another due to these distinctive flavours,' says Darren.
'Our Christmas gin, in particular, is a bold expression of Christmas spices and fruits. And so it does shine through in a cocktail, in a G&T or with another mixer, for example, the fabulous Dark Soda from Long Rays that we serve and enjoy in-house.'
Light Ray's Dark Soda is a low-sugar, more complex soda mixer made for complementing dark spirits with its blend of orange peel, ginger, smoked vanilla and kola nut melding well with the Christmas gin yet not overpowering it.
'It's currently my favourite drink right now. It doesn't have that very sticky Coca-Cola overly sweet taste and mouthfeel when you drink it. Instead, you've enjoyed your gin with a really subtle but complex mixer.'
In terms of complexity, the new Barrel-Aged Christmas Gin release is undoubtedly one for those who seek the ultimate expression in wonderfully detailed, full-flavoured, aged spirits. A Witches Falls Winery (Tamborine Mountain) oak barrel used to mature solera Muscat (a fortified wine) is the key to the new gin's layered complexity.
'Through our close friendship and previous collaboration with this local winery, we were able to acquire one of their previously used barrels,' says Darren. 'Earlier this year, when we made our Christmas gin, we added a high-proof 64% alcohol Christmas gin directly into the barrel, as the higher percentage of alcohol was specifically selected for maximum flavour extraction from the barrel itself.'
'Having been a part of the solera fortified wine maturation chain for several years, there were these wonderfully sweet, rich sultana fruit flavours emanating from the empty barrel and this deep red colour to the oak timber inside. So we wanted to extract those out of the barrel as well as some subtle French oak flavours. Interestingly, the barrel was also previously used to mature Cognac, so the gin result is quite varied and unique - it's simply outstanding,' explains Darren.
'The barrel has both softened the spirit, but it's also added those absolutely fantastic rich flavours; also, of course, adding colour. The previous wine product was a deep crimson red, so we've extracted a pinky hue in addition to some lovely wood colours, culminating in a delightful light rose/honey-coloured tone. It's added another dimension to the gin.'
Cauldron Distillery has released only 350 bottles of the Five-To-Five "Limited Release" Barrel-Aged Christmas Gin 2022 for sale. A 700ml bottle retails for $125 AUD. 30 bottles will be kept back that will form part of the distillery's back catalogue collection to be shared at future special events.
Sitting at the same $99 price point as Cauldron's seasonal range of gins, the Five-To-Five "Limited Release" Christmas Gin 2022 (non-barrel-aged) saw a solid burst of first orders upon launch and consistent daily sales ever since. Both gins are expected to sell out well before Santa has time to consider how he'll climb down some of Tamborine Mountain's taller chimneys. It looks like it'll be simply milk and cookies for him this year.
Taking one of Darren's gin-making classes is another way to indulge in the Christmas gin experience, and Darren explains that he's more than happy to divulge more than a few trade secrets, allowing people to make their own Christmas gin.
'We want people to experiment in any way they see fit with the aim of helping them make their very own gin to be proud of. We hold stock of all of the traditional and classic Christmas spices so they can have a go at making their very own Christmas masterpiece.'
Intimate in style, Cauldron Distillery's Gin Making Class can be enjoyed as a couple or in a small group. It is limited to only 6 bookings per class. The duration of the experience is 2.5 hours and comes with 3 complimentary gin and tonics per person and a delicious cheese grazing board. After the class, you will have made your very own one-of-a-kind bottle of Gin to take home to enjoy with friends and family.
Book your gin making class here