Local produce the Heart and Soul of new gin
BUNDABERG is a city known for just one spirit.
But that could soon change, with start-up distillery Waterview drawing on a community of Bundaberg producers to inject local flavour into gin, vodka and whisky.
One of the latest projects, Heart and Soul Gin, sees new flavours with every batch and soon Waterview visitors will be able to design their own gin by infusing it with local ingredients.
The next experimental batch being prepared on Waterview founder Matthew Drane's kitchen bench is a four-peel gin using Gin Gin-grown Abbotsleigh Citrus.
"When you're making gin, you're capturing the parts of the spirit - the heart, which is the purest form of the alcohol," Mr Drane said.
"The soul is the botanicals."
The latest experimental batch created by head distiller Rick Prosser was pouring out of the still this week at Waterview, based at the Schmeider's Cooperage complex in East Bundaberg.
As well as juniper berries - the key ingredient which is legally required in gin - the "soul" includes ginger from Bundaberg producers Bunda Ginga, and lemon myrtle and cinnamon myrtle from Flavours of Bundaberg in Booloongie, as well as kaffir lime and cardamom.
"The water comes from Mount Cooroy - so we're calling it the spirit of the Sunshine Coast," he said.
By marketing products like that, he added, "We're still bringing profits back to Bundaberg."
Mr Drane also has an eye on the American market which he says has a taste for Australian ingredients.
While Heart and Soul Gin is not yet on retail shelves, keen drinkers can pick up a bottle online, from the distillery or from the East End Hotel.
Flavours of Bundaberg founder Fiona Walker, who also supplies to Four Pillars Gin in Melbourne, said there was a growing trend of collaboration among Bundaberg producers.
"Local people in business are helping each other and supporting each other more and more," Ms Walker said.
With the power of promotion, she said, Bundaberg "could be huge".
"We're going to a big gin festival in Melbourne (Junipalooza) in October, and I'm heading down there to promote the products."
If the word gets around, who knows: Bundaberg could yet become famous for gin.