Bone Dry Gin Is Our Best Gin Yet. This Is How To Drink It
Every time we release a new gin at Archie Rose, it undergoes a vigorous taste testing regime. It’s regarded by all who take part as the best part of our job. We taste a new gin with every tonic available on the market, as well as every garnish. We then take it to another round where we match vermouths for Martinis. Each stage involves dozens of matches and usually results in a resounding winner.
At Archie Rose, when it comes to partner ingredients as important as mixers and vermouth, we describe ourselves as agnostic. We choose to remain impartial because we are aware there are many brands out there, both in Australia and globally, which produce great products. Our job is to tell you what we think are the best pairings.
Then along came Bone Dry. To put it simply and bluntly; this is the best gin I’ve ever drunk. And that's down to a combination of three things:
1. Our new stills are quite frankly some of the best in the world, if not THE best. The vacuum capability means we can distill at lower temperatures, which means we can capture more of the bright true essence of the ingredient, rather than their cooked or stewed counterparts.
2. The blend of botanicals is nothing short of brilliant. For Bone Dry Gin we distilled Juniper not one, but three different ways! And it’s joined by single estate Australian coriander seed, Tahitian lime and lemon-scented gum.
3. Our distillers are incredible. Master Distiller Dave Withers and his team are growing by the year—once upon a time it was just Dave and one other distiller, now we have a whole team, including our Senior Spirits Blender, David Fisher. Fish has one of the greatest jobs at Archie Rose; to smell and blend spirits all day long. The entire distilling team has been commissioning the new distillery for the past 18 months, and this new gin is a wonderful omen for us—proof the botanical spirits coming out of our new home have a bright, lucid future.
We are riding on what I believe, at least for gin, to be our golden wave. We’re playing with a new kit—it’s exceptional—and the years of research we’ve put away are coming to fruition in a scientific way we only dreamt of before.
Back to the tasting. Nick Baxter, Rocky Hair and I sat down to our favourite challenge: matching Bone Dry with tonics, garnishes, and finding the perfect ratio of vermouth for a martini. As we’re still in an endless lockdown this was the first time we had to do it remotely, so we all excitedly received an oversized Archie Rose shipper in the mail. It was a great unboxing. A fresh off the press bottle of Bone Dry, that I turned over in my hands appreciating the undulating, debossed label in the flesh.
We also received a dozen little tonics and 16 mini sample-sized bottles of vermouth. Rocky, Nick and I had been scouring our local shops for appropriate garnishes and we had all acquired the “big four” citrus: lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange. Between us, we’d also collected apples, cucumbers, rosemary, thyme, a pineapple (just in case), jalapenos, caper berries, capers, sicilian olives (plus black olives, because Nick felt like it), and sweet pickled onions.
We started with the tonics. Most scored pretty well—the gin was shining through the sweetness of the most cloying, and singing with the more restrained. We settled on Strangelove No. 8—itself a tonic that is reinforced with juniper. What does a gin with three types of juniper distillate need? That’s right! More juniper. It was equally good with market leaders Fever-Tree, Capi and Schweppes, but by a nose Strangelove had it.
Then we moved on to the serious business of matching 16 different vermouths. It did well with them all. They were all Martinis I’d happily quaff at a bar. But while we were chilling down the gin to add to glasses filled with 5ml of each vermouth, we noted that Bone Dry was actually pretty awesome with no vermouth.
A Martini made without vermouth is known as a Churchillian Martini, named after the British Prime Minister who purportedly bowed in the direction of France while stirring down his gin. I highly doubt he ever bowed at France, but maybe a begrudging nod. Hitchcock allegedly waved his bottle of vermouth over the mixing glass while stirring down the gin, while surrealist Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel made his martinis by allowing a beam of light to pass through the vermouth and land upon the mixing glass. All ridiculous traditions that should be reintroduced immediately.
My go-to Martini is dry with a twist, though I’ll happily stray if the bartender has a spin they think sits well with a particular gin. I usually end up returning to my favourite ratio, but with Bone Dry Gin I’m going Churchillian, garnished with Sicilian olives. While it’s great with every vermouth we tried, I think Bone Dry is spectacular simply chilled and diluted.
The most remarkable thing about this new gin is the excitement of all the team that has tried it. It’s just exceptional. And every single way we’ve thought to try it has been exceptional, too.