Our multi award winning micro distillery has been operating commercially since January 2019. We have two signature gins, The Classic and The Connoisseur, both of which have won medals at the two most prestigious gin competitions in the world - the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London and the San Francisco World Spirit Competition.
In addition to our two signature gins, we also have our limited edition navy strength gin, The Admiral. Released in June 2020, this deliciously sinful gin is a whopping 57%ABV and, we reckon, one of our best gins yet.
Over time, our plan is to gradually expand our range of limited edition and seasonal gins to showcase the flavours of our farm and the beautiful Sapphire Coast of NSW.
truly small batch
All our gins are made in small batches of only 200 bottles at a time on our much loved 100 litre copper still, "Jill".
While a 100 litre still might sound pretty big, it's actually really (really) small in the world of commercial gin production. The fact that we use such a small still is one of the many things that sets us apart from other distilleries, most of whom will use larger stills that are automated to at least some extent. Here, everything is done by hand and taste using small batch artisan methods.
Each of our gins starts as an idea in Gavin’s head and then slowly takes shape in our little 2 litre research still, Eve. Once we’re happy with the mix of botanicals and the balance of flavours, we then scale up the botanicals and do a trial distillation in our 10 litre still, Charlie. It’s only when we think we’ve finally nailed the recipe on Charlie, that we take the leap of faith and fire up our 100 litre still, Jill.
In coming up with new recipes we always take inspiration from the classic gin flavour profiles of yesteryear (when gin tasted like gin and flavoured vodka had yet to be invented).
local and seasonal
But as much as we're inspired by the past, we're part of the here and now and so are our gins. To foster that connection to time and place, we consciously craft each of our gins to use as much locally available and seasonal produce as we can.
The Classic features native Australian fingerlimes grown here on the farm, as well as blood orange, grapefruit, lime and lemon that we also grow.
The Connoisseur also uses homegrown citrus, but its special connection to place is seaweed that we collect ourselves from the local seashore.
As for The Admiral, native kurrajong seed from a tree next to the distillery gives this gin a sweet nuttiness as well as a connection to place.
Every bottle of North of Eden gin that you buy has been made on "Jill", our 100 litre copper alembic still.
Handmade in Portugal, "Jill" embodies a way of making alcohol that dates back over a thousand years. That's right folks! People were making alcohol on stills just like Jill when the leaning Tower of Pisa was only a gleam in an architect's eye, Angkor Wat still wasn't finished and the Mona Lisa wouldn't be painted for another few centuries.
As the grand old dame of distillation technology, Jill's undeniable old world charms also mean she's a little more demanding and temperamental than her modern counterparts.
Modern stills, as well as being bigger than Jill, also allow distillers to automate large components of their gin production. Not so Jill.
It takes between 12 and 16 hours to make a batch of gin on Jill. We're with her the entire time. Partly because she has to be direct fired on an open flame, but primarily because nothing is automated. We manually make all the cuts, and just like in the days of the original artisans, everything is done by taste. Knowing when to make those cuts — the Heads, the Heart and the Tails - is what we like to think of as the art of distillation.
There are certainly quicker and easier ways to make gin, but there's something special about creating great gin on such a grand old lady using traditional, small batch artisan methods.
We make true London Dry gins meaning all our gins get made on a single still run and the only thing we add at the end is water. There are, of course, many other ways to make delicious premium gins, but we just happen to have a particular love for the London Dry style and so that's what we do here.
To start, we add neutral grain spirit and water into the pot of the still. Botanicals are then individually weighed out, before being layered (in a precise order) in a muslin cocoon and suspended in a basket over the pot of the still.
We then make up a paste from rye flour, which we use to "fuse" the three separate components of the still (the pot, the column, and the onion head) into a single sealed unit for the length of the distillation.
Once the still is sealed, we fire her up and wait for the alcohol and water in the pot to get up to the magical number of 78 degrees Celsius.
It's at that temperature that the alchemy starts to happen.
Vapours from the liquid in the pot of the still rise up to the basket of suspended botanicals, extracting all those delicious flavours through a gentle refluxing process. Captured in air, those extracted flavours are then carried in a gaseous botanical brew through the lyne arm to the condenser.
The condenser in turn transforms our steamy botanicals back into liquid form, to emerge drop by drop at the other side. Almost gin... but not quite...
The Art of Distillation
Coming up with a great gin recipe takes time, research, patience and skill. For us, though, the real "art" of distillation is knowing when to make the "cuts."
To understand what we mean by that, you first need to understand that for single shot London Dry gins - which is what we make - gin comes off the still in "fractions".
What do we mean by fractions? Basically, all botanicals vapourise at different rates. The first to vapourise are the lighter florals, followed by some of the citrus notes. These are the first flavours to emerge in liquid form in a distillation Next to emerge are the remaining citrus flavours, followed by earthier botanicals, like orris and angelica root. Last across, the crucial flavours of coriander and juniper.
All these "fractions" emerge sequentially over a period of many hours, topped and tailed by other, less desirable botanical flavours.
In most commercial distilleries, the decisions about what fractions to keep, and which to discard, are automated. Computer programs make decisions about "cuts" based on alcohol concentration, distillation time and/or temperature.
Here on the farm, we do everything the old-fashioned way. We do it by taste. That's why when we're running Jill, we're constantly monitoring for taste and taking decisions about when to start collecting fractions and when to stop.
It's not necessarily a better way to make gin. There are some exceedingly delicious gins (including some on our gin shelfie at home) made using awesome new stills and modern technology.
What we do is just a little different. It's a much slower and smaller way of making gin. But we think it puts a little more artisan back into the art of distillation. And we think that can only be a good thing.