STORY AND PICTURES BY RICHARD CORNISH
The air is filled with the aroma of spices and fragrant herbs. They are intermingled and intertwined making it is difficult to discern one single note. There’s juniper. Was that orange peel? Fennel? This Phil Spector style wall-of-perfume greets you when you walk into Kyneton’s Animus Distillery. This warehouse-style building has been set out like a cocktail bar with sweeping wooden bar and high chairs. The rest of the space is taken up with low tables book ended by deep leather chesterfields. The shining fermenting and distilling equipment plus the sweet lingering aromas let you know this is a working gin distillery.
Distiller Rob Turner speaks with pride when he describes the different approach to gin making he and his partner Luke Jacques along with Joel Wilson and Aaron Robinson have taken. “We use the vapour pressed method,” explains Rob, referring to the two metre tall stainless steel and polished copper towers. “We take a basket of botanicals and place them in the still above the spirit.”
The botanicals refer to the flavoursome spices, roots and peels that impart their flavour into the final product. As the alcohol evaporates it infuses the aromatic compounds within the botanicals into the distilled alcohol. Rob explains that other distillers will steep their botanicals in the spirit prior to distilling. “Ours is such a labour intensive process,” says Rob. “We have to hand peel all the citrus and remove every trace of pith otherwise the gin becomes bitter and has a flat taste. It takes hours and hours.”
Animus started several years ago. Rob and Luke would go to Joel and Aaron’s house for a meal and then expand their shared love of malt whisky to gin. They experimented in Joel and Aaron’s garage with different botanicals, retro-engineering the great gins of the world.
In 2015 they moved the operation to Kilmore where they worked for 18 months perfecting the recipes for their gins that make up the Animus Range. In August last year Animus opened. “We
thought we would have one gin,” says Rob with a laugh. “We ended up with three."
Macedon Dry is an elegant gin with a lemon and lime citrus profile that sits alongside the high notes of the juniper. Floating around this are cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and mountain pepper. “If you’re mixing with tonic then go 50/50 gin and tonic,” suggests Rob. “There’s enough tonic to release the aromas but not too much as to drown it.”
Animus Ambrosian has a South East Asian accent with mandarin, kaffir lime and white sesame, along with fresh turmeric, galangal and ginger. The Green label Arboretum Gin is made with strawberry gum leaf, lemon thyme, rosemary, oranges and native bush tomato support the classic gin notes of bold juniper, coriander seed, and citrus, with a long, spicy balanced finish. The Animus team grows a good number of the botanicals.
If you’re interested in dipping your toe in the gin waters then drop by Animus and ask for the Gin Tasting. This gives you a neat sip 10ml sip of all three gins so you can try them side by side for $10. Then there is the Gin Flight that offers you 15ml of each gin, garnish and tonics to make your own perfect G and T for $30. There are six gin martinis, nine gin cocktails plus single malt whiskies, Japanese and Australian whiskies, local beer and wine plus cheese and charcuterie plates.
Animus Distillery and Bar,
1/89 Piper St, Kyneton;
Wed- Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri 4pm-11pm,
Sat 12pm-11pm; Sun 12pm-8pm;