Ray of Sunshine: Sunshine and Sons
When it comes to producing quality spirits, Tony Cox discovers it needs passionate and knowledgeable people, top-quality ingredients and a few rocks thrown in for good measure.
When four friends got together to establish Sunshine & Sons at Woombye they combined many years of experience in food and beverage.
As you would expect from those with a passion for quality, each step has been carefully considered, one of the most critical being the spirit base. Much research was done before settling on Barossa Valley grape spirit as the grain and gluten-free base spirit for their gin and vodka range.
The key reasons being the rounded, soft, viscosity you experience on the palate when consuming neutral grape spirit compared to other sources, especially grain-based neutral spirits.
The second reason is the exceptional quality of the spirit source.
The Original Vodka combines two ingredients only, the forementioned Barossa grape spirit and local Woombye water. The dilution is a very crucial part of the process. The water is added very slowly to preserve clarity and to achieve a true cohesion between the water and the alcohol so there is no splitting and the texture is consistent. The water source is also constant; and filtration is through volcanic rocks – currently the only distillery to do so in Australia – with rocks from Sunshine Coast headlands.
The limited-edition Barrel Aged Vodka is pale, with no artificial colouring used in the distillery; the caramel colour coming from having spent time in barrels seasoned with sherry.
Palate-wise sherry notes are evident, combined with peppery nuances and the viscosity and texture which comes with neutral grape spirit. I immediately bought a bottle to sip over ice.
Let’s get down to gin and the first tried was the Original Dry Gin. Firstly, each gin has its own botanicals and the key botanicals that sets Sunshine & Sons apart is the high florals, derived from pink rose petals, Tasmanian lavender, Tasmanian pepperberry and pomegranate. To highlight these aromatics and flavours better, no garnish is needed as a wedge of citrus changes the chemical balance of the botanicals.
Similarly, at the Distillery Door the team insists on Schweppes Tonic as they feel that most visitors will use that mixer at home and they wish to replicate that experience. The florals really come through on the palate and was exceptional drinking. Again, I voted
with my wallet and bought a bottle.
A little more fun for the team is the Pineapple Parfait Gin, an homage to the iconic Big Pineapple next door.
Coriander and juniper-forward, the addition of tropical ingredients such as pineapple, coconut, passionfruit and vanilla created a fleshy, rounded palate.
When tonic was added there was a dramatic change to aroma and flavour turning it into fruit salad in a glass, fresh and exciting rather than sweet and sickly.
Similar to the Barrel Aged Vodka, the Barrel Aged Gin sees time in French Oak barrels, seasoned with sherry. With peppery notes to the fore it also has the trademark texture and viscosity from the base grape spirit.
Mr Barista, the molasses spirit with Segafredo Zanetti cold brewed coffee and Sunshine Coast-grown double roasted macadamia was utterly delicious with the intensity of the coffee matching the intensity of the molasses.
The team is producing the first 100% Australian organic certified rum and the first Nil Desperandum Rum release is serving out its mandatory two-year barrel ageing period before it can officially be called rum.
The countdown is on, ready for the big reveal on 22 February 2022 at 2.22pm, an auspicious date for sure. If the gin and vodka are anything to go by, the rums will also be a cracking product.
The team at Sunshine & Sons are producing some fantastic spirits adhering firmly to a quality-first ethos. Whilst the Original Dry Gin and Original Vodka are the standard bearers, the limited-edition products that are showcased at the Distillery Door will ensure a constant stream of visitors just to keep up with what the guys are doing.
Do yourself a favour, jump in your car after first deciding on a designated driver, and visit the Distillery Door for a tour and tasting. It’s a sensational spot overlooking the lush green hills of Woombye with more than enough seating, ambience and delicious cocktails to make an afternoon of it. The guys are unpretentious and the energy from the passion they all share is evident. More importantly they are great drinks that are locally-distilled by people who know what they are doing.