It’s been quite the year to say the least and so we wanted to find a great way to say “Cheers, now on ya bike 2020” by creating something a little unique for you to enjoy. One of the great aspects of the coffee industry is getting to collaborate and be inspired by creative, passionate, quality focussed people. The team from Lair in Brighton had been working on some new cocktails for their menu while trying to incorporate some more coffee angles into the line-up beyond the all-conquering Espresso Martini. One beverage on the new menu, of which I have since consumed many in the name of research, caught my eye. The Berry Bramble. A classic combination of lemon juice, Chambord and in this case a Coffee and Cake Gin. I curiously asked who made the gin and was pointed in the direction of a local distillery called That Spirited Lot who had made it especially for them as a limited batch. It was then I knew to get in touch!
Image: That Spirited Lot Distillers
That Spirited Lot Distillers is a boutique family distillery located in Seaford, Victoria and is run by brothers Jon-Paul (JP) & Chris (Krill) Willigenburg alongside their sister-in-law Kate Barton. The team are currently focused on producing a range of Single Shot, Pot Distilled Gins produced from wine they collect from the local wine regions of the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. Having recently won a Silver (Contemporary) and Bronze (Classic Dry) in the recent 2020 Australian Gin Awards the team are gaining popularity for producing a high quality complex mix of the old classics and some experimental new age distillates. More recent examples of this are their Turkish Delight Gin and the spectacular Vintage On The Ninch which had been cut with Pinot Noir juice and aged in French Oak.
This passion for experimentation was abundantly clear when speaking with JP as he described the different sized stills TSP had on hand which allowed them to get a little crazy and try new things. Having worked a little with coffee before he was also quick to point out that the flavours pulled out are often determined by the natural aromas and floral highlights from the coffee itself, how intriguing. With this in mind there was only one coffee that came to mind.
The Tade GG washed from Ethiopia; a gorgeously complex tropical flavoured wonder that has been a highlight on the Five Senses menu over the last couple of seasons and has a permanent place on my personal coffee Mount Rushmore. This coffee is grown in the Oromia region, one of Ethiopia’s largest specialty coffee growing regions. Tesfaye Bekele owns this farm in the Shakisso (Guji zone), which is in the Southern part of Oromia. The regions’ volcanic soil is bursting with nutrients, creating a deep red and brown top-layer of soil, while the regions high altitude and dry weather allow for the cherries to develop very slowly. This helps gives the Tade GG its complex aroma of guava, apricots and tropical fruit. Everything I would want in a spirit.
With a little tasting under the belt it was settled that gin botanicals may just be a little overpowering a direction to head in and that a coffee spirit would help let these nuances shine. It was also around this time we had been tasting some new cascara samples and the inspiration was formed to combine this element in order to help capture the spirit of coffee (pun very much intended).
So what is cascara? Derived from the Spanish word for “husk” or “peel”, cascara quite simply is the dried skins of coffee cherries. These pulped skins are collected after the seeds (aka coffee beans) have been removed from the cherries. The pulped skins have often simply been thrown away or used as organic fertiliser, so cascara is not often a cafe staple. When put aside for use, they are dried in the sun before they are packaged up and sold as a tea. The end result is a beverage that has loads of natural honey and raisin sweetness, which tastes amazing even after its cooled. *pro tip – serve a little alongside a long black for a surprisingly harmonious accompaniment.
The choice was made to pot distill the spirit (instead of column distillation) using their mid-sized still known as “Short Round”. Production day arrived and Short Round was sitting there, waiting for coffee, ready to go filled with grape spirit, which is a natural recycled product from the wine industry. The top of Short Round was also configured with a double botanic basket. A large basket was placed directly above the boiler, and a smaller one placed after the copper head of the still which allowed access to extract more components from the coffee. The basket above the boiler is very hot, helping to extract more of the volatile compounds to give the spirit its coffee heart, while the post or ‘late’ basket brought more of the softer floral notes. A super unique approach.
The post distilled spirit was then allowed to rest uncut at 71% abv for 2 weeks to allow the oils from the coffee to mellow and relax into the spirit. This is a crucial step and allows the flavours to integrate in order to further enhance the character. Then it was time to add the cascara. This is when things get funky! The cascara was macerated for 22 hours until a golden colour was achieved. It was then taken out and re-dried in order to do a ‘double steep’ for an additional 2 hours.
A super complex spirit packed with upfront honey, raisin and a dash of apricot, that could also almost pass for something that has been aged in a sherry cask!
Straight Shooter has a warm aroma with coffee tones and, as the name suggests, is elegant enough to be enjoyed by slowly sipping neat or over ice. If you have Apricot Schnapps around, put it in!! For a refreshing twist, adding a generous splash (3parts) of Strangelove Coastal tonic, a large cube of ice, and a slightly squeezed orange cheek makes for a very quenchable summer number to see out the year.
Straight Shooter is a limited run available in 200ml bottles as part of our Double Barrel Spirits pack, so jump early to grab yours today to share with your loved ones. Huge thanks to the team at That Spirited Lot. Enjoy!