Tamborine Mountain Distillery – Some Presents from Down-under

Welcome to “I’m Crap Week” part two. In particularly appropriate fashion it is now over a month since “I’m Crap Week” part one. Continuing the theme of things that friends have given me to write about which I haven’t written about, I turn to a triumvirate of bottles from the Tamborine Mountain Distillery.

The distillery is in the south east corner of Queensland, about 50 km from the border with new South Wales. The area it’s named for is a plateau that itself is named for the lime trees in the area rather than the instrument. They have been going since the early 90s, when the Ward family moved to the area and found they had a bit too much fruit to eat on their own. Now Michael and Alla, along with their children Sonya and Alex, run the distillery and make an impressively large range of spirits. You can find the complete list on their website, but they’ve picked up over 200 awards for their spirits over the last decade, including silvers and bronzes at the IWSC and a more recent 3 gold medals at the World Spirits Awards.

Michael also has one of the most impressive beards I’ve seen in a while and has a similar approach to photos as me – open your mouth and look as mad as possible. It’s a good strategy. One day I hope to have as good a beard as him.

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A Pair of Absinthes – La Ptite and François Guy

I’ve been searching for interesting absinthes recently – at work we’ve been trying to get more in, but there’s just not been that much coming into the UK at the moment. Luckily with the arrival of a couple of newbies and a pair of interesting new local entries into the category from Adnams (English absinthe, made by an old school brewer, one of which is red and coloured with hyacinth flowers…) the drought is starting to look like it might break.

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More Absinthe – Alan Moss and La Clandestine

My mission to learn all things absinthe recently hit another waypoint after a mail from Maya of Distillnation (excellent doers of things with booze). I’d met her a little while back at Rumfest, where she ‘forced’ me to try the Botran range, and wondered if I’d like to learn some more about La Clandestine absinthe and its stablemates, as well as meet Alan Moss of Artemisia, one of the folks behind the liquid. After some date wrangling I ended up sitting with Alan one evening at Montgomery Place, one of the increasing number of bars starting to take Absinthe seriously, for a chat and a taste of his boozes.

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Barcamp London 9 – Beginner’s Guide to Absinthe

So, yesterday I did a talk at BarCampLondon about Absinthe. Which was fun. My main take-away from it is that doing a history of absinthe, a discussion of production methods, a hand around of the botanicals, a tasting of two, and the obligatory “Don’t set it alight” and “No, it won’t make you see things any more than Special Brew” in 25 minutes is Hard. Anyways, here are my slides, although I recommend you download them if you want to have a look as all the info is in the notes. If you don’t have Keynote (which I didn’t until last week) there’s also a PDF of slides and notes here.

Tasting Jade and La Maison Fontaine Absinthe

I’m really getting into this absinthe thing. After my evening speaking to Ian Hutton I’ve continued my reading and my research, had the folks at the Wormwood Society compliment me (I didn’t get anything obviously wrong) and have started investigating the availability of certain abinthes to put together an international bottle-share. However, towards the beginning of that I had another evening of education at the hands of Jenny Gardener of Sip Or Mix, who currently looks after the Jade family of liqueurs & absinthes and La Maison Fontaine, a blanche that was launched last year. M’colleague Tim and I met up with her in basement bar 22 Below, who have a selection of absinthes and appropriate apparatus for their preparation, for a run through her spirits.

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Enigma Absinthe with Ian Hutton

One spirit that I have severely lacked any knowledge of in the past is absinthe. I know that most of the stories about its mysterious ‘effects’ are rubbish and I’ve only really had two interactions with it: Firstly there’s my love of the Sazerac, which is turned from good into excellent by the absinthe washing of the glass to serve it in. Secondly there’s the bottle of blue and yellow food colouring heavy absinthe that I got when my mate Beth disappeared back to the USA, leaving her booze collection behind. Along with the (excellent) Herradura Añejo and Zubrowka there was also a bottle of absinthe, which I took to using to make pastis as if it was Pernod – splash of booze, bit of ice, topped up with water. In short – it messed me up. It’s not the plants or colourings that did that, just the horrendous levels of alcohol that I was sticking down my neck almost unknowingly.

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