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By Sarah Frish, ContributorISSUE #018 HARVEST 2019 | Community

Meet Our Growers

Meet the local growers responsible for this year’s Harvest 2019 Poorman’s Orange Gin, supplying us with the most exceptional Poorman’s and bergamot oranges and emerald green finger limes.

You need great produce to make great spirits – simple as that. Archie Rose wouldn’t be the distillery it is today without the help of incredible local growers, harvesters and foragers. For our latest release, Harvest 2019 Poorman’s Orange Gin, we worked with some of the best; Peter Dryden and Elsa Payne, the growers responsible for some of the country’s most intriguing citrus fruits including Poorman’s orange, and Vickie Shina, a pioneer in growing native Australian bush foods who supplied the emerald green finger limes. Keep reading to get to know the growers behind this year’s Harvest 2019 Poorman’s Orange Gin...

Peter Dryden, Wombat Bottoms

Peter Dryden grows rare, unique and exceptional citrus fruits. Since finding his first Poorman’s orange, Dryden has supplied some of the country’s most acclaimed chefs with bergamot, cumquats, yuzu and, of course, Poorman’s orange. Back then, he was a Risk & Environment Consultant, with a small stake in truffle growing and a hankering for a sea change. “We found the tree in (my wife) Elsa's parents' garden in Turramurra and decided to grow a couple in Gordon,” he explains, “We couldn’t find anything like it commercially in Australia and showed it to a few chefs – they encouraged us to keep growing.” Soon after, Dryden bought an 11-hectare property near Wollombi in the Hunter Valley and named it Wombat Bottoms.

He recalls NOMA’s request for 50 bottles of cordial for their Sydney pop-up, supplying 700kg of Poorman’s orange for Adelaide’s award-winning restaurant Orana and countless Poorman's and Bergamot oranges to Peter Gilmore at Quay to make marmalade. Despite his humble reputation and farm’s success, citrus growing hasn’t been without its challenges – especially in recent times, losing 80 per cent of his property in the summer bushfires. Through it all, Peter remains optimistic, “We were incredibly lucky most of our orchard was left intact. Out of 400 trees, we only lost 10. We’ve still got animals around us too – I might’ve even heard a koala making some noise a couple of nights ago.” It’s his dedication to craft, friendly professionalism and quality of produce that resonated with our team – not to mention, the beautiful citrus character of his Poorman’s and bergamot orange, distilled swiftly into this year’s Harvest 2019 Poorman’s Orange Gin.

Vickie Shina, Marvick Native Farms

For over 17 years, Vickie Shina and her husband Mark have pioneered Australian citrus farming, working with CSIRO to grow and develop new varieties of vibrant native finger limes. Spending her childhood in the country, she’s always had a connection to land and the produce it bears, moving to Perth in 2003 to grow bush foods with husband and chef, Mark Andrew. They learnt through trial and error, favouring rainforest varieties grafted onto native Western Australian root systems to grow compact trees that produce 50kg of finger limes a season. How many limes is that? “Lots,” she laughs, “I never stop to count them, I’m too busy picking!”

We’ve worked with Vickie since day one, using her crimson blood limes and vibrant sunrise limes as distillates for our Core Range and Tailored Gins. For this year’s Harvest Gin, we trialled eight different varieties from her farm, choosing the emerald green finger lime for its distinct herbal edge – a perfect match for juniper. For Vickie, the shine’s never worn off the truly Australian native citrus; she swears by finger limes in gin and tonics, spooned over oysters or straight up, “I end up with citrus burn at the end of the day because I’ve eaten so many straight off the tree!”

Our new vintage series, Harvest, celebrates provenance, sustainability and the bounty and diversity of the annual Australian harvest. Each year, we’ll be releasing different spirits – including gin, vodka, whisky, rum and others - with a hero theme or ingredient that showcases the growers, providores, foragers and regions Archie Rose has worked with the preceding year. Our first release under this label, Harvest Gin 2019, will be released on 24 February 2020, featuring the rare and unassuming citrus, Poorman’s orange and will be available from 24 February 2020 from great bars, independent bottle shops and as always at the Archie Rose Bar and www.archierose.com.au.