The Gin Guns: Introducing IN Noosa Gin!

Image source: IN Noosa Magazine

When Deb Caruso presented the challenge of creating a gin which reflected the essence of Noosa, she called in the big guns. Here’s how they approached the brief and what can be expected from the world’s first IN Noosa Wild Foraged Gin!

Meet the Collaborators

Deb Caruso

Mastermind/curator of crazy ideas
Deb’s passion for all things local drove her to start IN Noosa Magazine five years ago and her love of food saw her join Slow Food Noosa way before that. As Slow Food Noosa Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of IN Noosa Magazine, she is always looking to bring locals together and create things that capture the essence of Noosa. When she discovered Noosa had its own distillery, this gin-loving gal called on a few friends and called in a few favours to create the world’s first IN Noosa Wild Foraged Gin. The rest is history. History-making that is!

Tony Cox

Sommelier/drinks writer
With one of Noosa’s best palates for quality beverages and more than quarter of a century of serving, savouring and slurping, our wine writer brought his best palate into play to offer advice on the final flavour profile.“Yours truly joined in with the collaboration, staying out of the way of
the experts but lingering long enough to bask in some of the reflected glory of a fantastic finished product.

The starting point was to define the essence of ‘Noosa’. Words such as ‘fresh, briny, clean and green’ came immediately to mind. Base botanicals of Juniper Berries, Coriander seeds and Cassia Bark were utilized for the base gin then we tapped into Nick’s skills.

Lemon Myrtle was chosen because it contributes a fresh, clean citrus lift while Lemon-Scented Tea Tree reinforced that freshness but also provided green notes, reflective of our hinterland. Sea Blite brought a lovely saline edge; and Sea Purslane, whilst also bringing a briny edge also provides a slight bitterness and delicate acidity. The final local botanical, Sargassum, a type of algae, brings an iodine aroma and flavor which lovers of Islay malts could readily identify with. Jackson distilled each of the five local botanicals individually then took about the task of blending. He presented two options for final approval.

The first was fresh, had a definitive lemon-citrus lift, light-bodied with a hint of green/herbaceous notes and a subtle whiff of saline… quintessential Noosa flavours and aromas.

The second gin presented had a greater level of Sargassum; the result was a brooding, thought-provoking gin more designed for sipping in dark rooms in winter, curled up on the Chesterfield, with palate stimulation being more towards the back.

Whilst both were fantastic drinks the first option with it’s fresh, citrus, saline notes were deemed to be more representative of Deb’s brief.

The result: a delicious IN Noosa Wild Foraged Gin, the essence of Noosa.”

Nick Blake

Wild forager/chef
Nick Blake of Wild Forage Australia, based on the Sunshine Coast, has a chef’s background (including world-renowned Noma) with an education based in Environmental Science. Nick advised what local botanicals were readily available and suggested and sourced local ingredients which fitted the brief (see page 30 for more on Nick).

“It was such a unique project to be involved in – no one had ever done that before in Noosa. Working with Deb, Tony and Jack was such a great opportunity. My role was to source the botanicals and to interpret what was unique to Noosa in the way of ingredients for the gin. I did a bit of research into gins globally to see what had been done with botanicals. I looked into what would normally go into gin and then tried to interpret it into what’s specific to our region. There’s lots of Myrtle and Cassia and Wattles but I really wanted to showcase something that resonated with people. A lot of people in Noosa live here because of the beautiful coastline and the landscape so succulents that were salty and briny, and seaweed, first popped into mind.

For the hinterland where I do a lot of other foraging, there are a lot of hardier spices and more tannin-driven ingredients with a waxy flavour like Lemon Myrtle and Lemon-Scented Tea Tree which also brought in that natural lemony flavour.

Being a chef and working with these ingredients before to make infused oils and blending them into salts and things, I know that at certain temperatures when the ingredients break down you lose some of the aromas so we just talked to Jack who is a very experience distiller and he was already across it. That’s where we came together to realise we needed to distil each of these flavours individually and then blend them together to maximise each individual element before we brought them together as a final product. It was so important to get the right balance of lemon, waxiness and the saltiness of the seaweed. Some of the big succulents and the Myrtle can be bitter and overpowering if taken too far but it came together really well. I’m so proud of the role I played in creating this product.”

Jackson Boyd

Distiller/chef
Jackson Boyd, head distiller at Fortune Distillery, was charged with translating Deb’s brief into a reality and working with Nick and Tony on the flavour profile and end product.
“This was such a great experience, particularly working with like-minded chef/forager Nick and I loved the chance to use unique ingredients that are distinctly ‘ours’. The whole process was great working not only with Nick but also alongside people like Tony and Deb who understand the finer points of balance and flavour profiles to create a product is fantastic, unique and diverse.

There were some challenges as we were using ingredients we never used before. The saturation of flavours was uncertain so we created distillates of each ingredient to then create the perfect blend of what we call ‘Noosa’.

I am really happy with the end product. The clean precise flavours remind me of a shorebreak at Little Cove right through to the hinterland areas of Tinbeerwah and Cooroy. It’s a harmonious melody of Noosa’s very own wild foraged product!”

The last word goes to Deb: “Special thanks go to Tim Crabtree from Fortune Distillery for getting behind the concept. It was a fantastic exercise and I personally send a very big thank you to Nick at Wild Forage Australia for interpreting the brief into ingredients and Jack from Fortune Distillery for turning those ingredients into a magnificent finished product. Once again, the sage guidance of Tony was invaluable to ensuring that the end result was not a flight of fancy and that it has real ‘legs’. Talk
about the dream team!”

IN Noosa Wild Foraged Gin was exclusively provided to guests at A Real Taste of Noosa dinner as part of Noosa Food & Wine with a welcome cocktail and a souvenir 200ml bottle; it will be initially used as gifts for the many valued IN Noosa clients and supporters and, with enough pressure/interest, it may be available to purchase through Fortune Distillery. If you are interested in trying and purchasing this special product, please email tim@landandseabrewery.com

About the Author /

jolene@innoosamagazine.com.au

Jolene has worked in the local media industry for more than five years. She is now a small business owner, mother to one sassy toddler and a newborn baby and loves to share stories about Noosa from its glorious food scene to the inspiring people.

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