This is a gin as beautiful and unique as the collaboration that made it. Muscat grapes macerated for eight weeks in gin made with Australian botanicals. On the nose, it is aromatic, floral, and rich, the clean, lean juniper dancing around old-fashioned blousy roses. On the mouth, it is luscious and full-bodied, the unfermented sugar from the grapes clinging to the lips, the dryness of the strawberry gum and peppermint gum like a bush track on a hot still day.
Muscat Gin is a 50/50 collaboration between Lee Attwood from Backwoods Distilling Co. in Yackandandah and Rowly Milhinch from Scion Wine in Rutherglen. Milhinch’s brown muscat grapes were trucked to Yackandandah and allowed to steep in Atwood’s gin for 56 days.
Backwood’s gin is itself a beautiful creature, made with premium, resinous juniper berries and gum leaves, which are native to the region. Alongside these are classic gin botanicals like orris root and angelica for body and sweetness, the dusky spiciness of cardamom, high notes of coriander and a little citrus tang from lemon myrtle, which appears long after the gin has been swallowed. After two months the grapes were basket pressed, and all that ruby muscat colour, sweetness, and complex floral notes became one with the gin.
That the muscat and gin work so well together comes as no surprise, as the men who made them are now great mates. Attwood and Milhinch met at the clearance sale of historic Mount Prior Estate in Rutherglen. They were trying to outbid each other on old oak barrels in which tawny port had been aged. At the end of the day, packing up the spoils of the auction in the backs of their utes, they started talking. That conversation has not stopped, and the result is this Muscat Gin, marketed under the Still & Stem brand.
Still & Stem Muscat Gin has enough natural sugar from the grapes, around 100g per litre, to give it great body and balance to enjoy it neat on a large block of ice, perhaps a few drops of water to help liberate the aromatics. Rowly also recommends pouring a few fingers of the gin over ice, dropping in a slice of dehydrated orange, and topping up the glass with Capi tonic to your taste, long or short. Get in quick as only 1100 bottles were made.