AN $8000 gamble by Bathurst microdistiller Ian Glen appears to be paying dividends with bottles of his newest gin blend finding an exclusive niche in the market.
Stone Pine Distillery’s latest seasonal offering fuses Mr Glen’s iconic gin with the earthy flavour of Central West truffles to create a limited edition Black Truffle Gin – the first of its kind in Australia.
But with truffles selling at $2000 a kilogram, just 300 bottles of the gin have been produced and around half of those were sold in the first week after Mr Glen launched it at the Australian Drinks Festival in Melbourne.
Mr Glen said he had been searching for a new seasonal blend following the success of Stone Pine’s Orange Blossom Gin last spring, with local produce a priority.
He began experimenting with local truffles before settling on a “savoury” recipe that also features black pepper, flaked salt, coriander seeds, orris root and juniper berries.
“For me, to be seasonal it has to be regional which limits the possibilities a little with our climate so when I got the idea of doing something with truffles I then had to be a bit patient and wait for them to ripen,” Mr Glen said.
“I thought it would be an interesting flavour and while I know of a truffle vodka in England, I didn’t think a vodka would the right fit for us.
“So I tried it with a gin and it took it to another level.”
I was a little nervous waiting to see how it was received because there was a significant investment.Microdistiller Ian Glen
Mr Glen sourced around 4kg of truffles from local farms to produce the gin and said he had been a little surprised by the final result.
“While it’s got a nice truffle flavour and I’m really happy with it, it’s a more delicate flavour than I thought it would be,” he said.
“The truffles tend to have a very potent, earthy smell but the flavour can be quite mild.”
Mr Glen said his gin sold well following its launch at the Australian Drinks Festival and is also available to buy from the Stone Pine website and local farmers’ markets.
At $135 for a 700ml bottle it is Stone Pine’s most expensive product, but the gamble appears to be paying off.
“I was a little nervous waiting to see how it was received because there was a significant investment in it, but while it is a niche market there appears to be enough people out there interested in gin and interested in truffles to make it work,” he said.
For more information on the Stone Pine range, go to stonepinedistillery.com.au.