After many years of requests from customers and the trade, Big River has taken the plunge in 2023 and produced a Shiraz Gin. The style, first created by Four Pillars in 2015, has become popular marrying grape juice and gin into a uniquely Australian beverage.
How It's Made:
The grapes for Big River’s new Shiraz Gin come from Wallaroo Wines, near Hall ACT, in the cooler-climate Canberra region. The vineyard is owed by Phil Williams and Carolyn Jack. Clyde used to manage it back in his winemaking days, so he knew which block/row to source the best quality fruit. The 2023 vintage was not a hot one and the grapes only achieved moderate sugar levels, but the colour and flavour were excellent.
Grape picking bins, fresh off the vines.
True to Big River’s inventive ethos, we have experimented with the Shiraz Gin style by partially fermenting a portion of the fruit. After a short fermentation, the Syrah was fortified with a gin base to retain most of the grape sugars. Partial fermentation was carried out to better integrate the shiraz flavours with the gin base.
Fermenting shiraz grapes, ready for the addition of our gin base.
Most Shiraz gin producers use one of their existing recipes as the base gin to which they add the fruit. For our Syrah Gin, Big River designed a new base recipe from the ground up. Why go to all this trouble? For a better match between the fruit and the gin base is the answer. Our Syrah Gin base blends pepper and spice with classic lemon flavours. Both fresh Eurekas and dried peel are used, to add fragrance and cut against the sweetness of the grapes.
Samples from the development of the Syrah Gin base. Each bottle represents the trial of a new recipe or single ingredient distillation.
Why have we called this new release Syrah Gin instead of Shiraz? Glad you asked. Syrah is the French name for the Shiraz grape variety – they are the one and same thing. Syrah is used in the cooler climate, French style of wine. Our grapes are sourced from Wallaroo Wines, in the cooler-climate Canberra region, so this name fits perfectly for the style of Shiraz Gin we aimed to make. The cooler-climate shiraz fruit has lovely spicy, plummy flavours that marry excellently with our classic lemon-forward gin.
The Hard Work Pays Off:
Big River Distilling Co. is proud to announce that our Syrah Gin not only won a gold medal at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards (ADSA), but also picked up the trophy for the best Wine/Grape Gin. The ADSA awards are held annually and are Australia’s premier spirits awards. Competition was intense with over 970 entries in 2023. Congratulations to Clyde and the team for a well deserved accolade.