Craft gin in Victoria is huge, driven by a host of inventive entrepreneurs. The Foodie World caught up with Chris Cameron and his passion project Naught Distilling, recent big winners at the Australian Distilling and Spirits Awards.
Where did your love of gin come from and what was the impetus to create your own distillery? How did you ‘learn your trade’?
My love for gin developed after making beer. While brewing beer at a venue I thought that someone should do this for spirits, and that pushed me down the rabbit hole of the world of spirits, and in particular gin.
I started trying all kinds of different gins and eventually got to the point where I felt my palate was good enough to try making it myself. I bought myself a small 5L copper still and started making some really poor versions of gin. After over 300 distillations at home, I jumped in the deep end at started a distillery and brand. It took me roughly four years from idea to scaling up to a commercial size.
How would you describe your gins in terms of flavour profile?
Our three gins are quite different in flavour profile and texture.
Our original is our Australian Dry Gin (one of the recent award winners) and it is my favourite. Juniper leads the palate and is quickly followed by a lovely citrus from our fresh oranges and coriander seed, the mid palate is warming spice, cassia and pepper berry with a really nice smooth texture, it finishes with some more citrus and lingering star anise. It stands out because it is so approachable and smooth – it really is a gin you can sip neat.
Naught Overproof is a completely different beast. At 57.4% it is one of the smoothest overproof/navy strength gins on the market. Lovely pine notes lead to an oily citrus and warming cardamon mid palate, finishing with white pepper and pink grapefruit notes. It is brilliant in cocktails, especially an Aviation.
Naught Sangiovese is our first limited release gin. It is made by macerating Dal Zotto Sangiovese grapes in our Australian Dry Gin for over two months, stirring and breaking up the grapes every day. The result is a beautifully smooth, sipping gin that has a lovely cooked cherry, strawberry and hay notes to it. It still has some lovely spice notes, but at 37.5% it is dangerously drinkable.
What was the inspiration behind creating the Sangiovese gin? How would you recommend that is drunk?
The Sangiovese was created as it is one of my favourite red wines. I wanted to choose a grape that is versatile and different from other wine-based gins on the market.
I wanted a gin that had a lovely cerise colour, earthy tones but a subtle sweetness that made it lovely to drink straight up. It definitely exceeded my expectations. My favourite way to drink it is over ice with a slice of fresh citrus (either lemon or orange). My next favourite is in a Sanjo Sour.
What are your favourite cocktails using Naught gin?
Great question about cocktails. There are so many and each of our gins works well in different cocktails. Here are three favourites for our gins.
- Australian Dry makes an amazing Clover Club, fresh raspberries bring a nice tart sweetness to the warming spice and star anise of our hero product.
- Overproof gin simply must be tried in an aviation, it elevates all the flavours and carries the gin notes through the entire cocktail from start to finish.
- Sangiovese as mentioned works so well in a sour. The sweetness of the Sangiovese grapes work in harmony with lemon juice to make a well balanced smooth cocktail.
What would you recommend in terms of food pairings?
Our Australian Dry gin would pair well with an entree, fish or light bites. It is delicate, smooth and light. The flavours will complement chicken and fish more than red meat.
An Overproof gin goes really well with Indian. The cardamon and white pepper spices marry well with Indian cuisine and the refreshing grapefruit finish contrasts with the spice.
Our Sangiovese works well as a digestive, similar to a dessert wine, but punchier. Nice cheeses and rich desserts go well with this gin.
Naught Distilling can be found at 2/32 Peel St, Eltham, Victoria. It’s about 25 km north-east of Melbourne CBD.