A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published December 15th 2017
A distillery with imaGINation
Bass and Flinders Gin Distillery is a boutique distillery located in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula. Originally established in 2009 by Wayne Klintworth and Bob Laing, Wayne's daughter Holly Klintworth has since stepped into the business after the passing of Laing in 2016, making it a true family business.
Holly Klintworth (image from the Bass and Flinders Facebook Page)
Finding many wineries on the Peninsula, Laing and Klintworth identified a market for something different, and set about establishing Bass and Flinders. To do this, they needed to acquire a vast amount of knowledge, including mentoring from an internationally recognised master distiller. These days, Bass and Flinders produces a range of high-quality grape-based gins. Their product range also includes Ochre - a premium aged brandy, a grape-based vodka, and a limoncello.
On weekends, this area is filled with people sipping on gin cocktails
Visiting Bass and Flinders, you won't find a flashy sales area or product showroom. Instead, it's a working distillery that is, essentially, a big metal shed. Outside, there is the Botanical Bar, where you can sip on a gin cocktail (featuring Bass and Flinders' gins, of course). Inside, there is a bar and a few tables and chairs for tastings, the product range beautifully displayed behind the bar, and the barrel room, where gin masterclasses are conducted.
We recently met with Holly Klintworth at the distillery to learn more about the business and to taste some of their artisan spirits. With a background in marketing in the wine industry, Holly now works with her father in the hands-on production of their artisan range of spirits.
Holly explained that Bass and Flinders has a point of difference from many of the other distilleries. "We make and use our own base spirit using Victorian grapes," she said. "It gives our spirits a softness not often found in commercial gins".
Bass and Flinders gin range
Tasting their range, it is easy to discern how the differences in botanicals influence the flavours. Their standard range includes the Soft & Smooth, an easy drinking gin flavoured with juniper berries, angelica, liquorice root and lime; the Wild and Spicy, featuring hints of citrus and pepper berry, and the Monsoon Gin, a vapour distilled infusion with Eastern overtones, including ginger, ginseng and lemongrass (each $98 for 700ml).
We also tasted the intriguing Angry Ant Premium Gin (limited edition) ($105 for 500ml). This gin has been distilled with botanicals, including Mulla Mulla and Purple Vetch flowers, and native lemongrass, sourced from Wooleen Station in central Western Australia. But also, the gin incorporates ants sourced from Wooleen! The ants release pheromones during the distillation process which add subtle character to the spirit. If you can get past the idea of ant flavoured spirit, this is actually a fresh, complex gin, ideal for Martinis. It's the one we ended up buying to take with us.
Mistelle and Cerise, two of the seasonal spirits on offer
Bass and Flinders also make seasonal spirits, including a truffle gin (not currently available), and the very pretty Cerise gin ($85 for 500ml). The latter is infused with local cherries and raspberries, as well as hibiscus and orange blossom, giving it a delightful pink tone the colour of Turkish delight and a sweeter flavour. They have also just released Mistelle, a limited addition spirit, just in time for Christmas ($64 for 500ml). Using a local chardonnay, fortified with their hand-crafted brandy, Mistelle is matured for five years in French oak barrels. Delicious on its own over ice, or incorporated into a cocktail, Mistelle would be a great Christmas gift.
If you are interested in a deeper gin experience, Bass and Flinders also offers masterclasses. These two-hour classes are limited to 22 participants and as well as giving you information on the history of gin and the distilling process, you will be given the opportunity to blend two of your own gin recipes using the botanicals provided. The $140 fee includes a cheese platter, and a 500ml bottle of your unique gin blend to take home. Your blend is kept on file so that if you should choose to re-order your unique recipe down the track it can be made up again for you. You can find more information about the masterclasses here.
The barrel room. (The masterclasses are also held in this room.)
Bass and Flinders Gin Distillery is located at 232 Red Hill Road, Red Hill. The cellar door is open for tastings from 11am to 5pm each Friday to Sunday (the Botanical Bar is open until 7pm from 16th December 2017 to 20th January 2018). Masterclasses are run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, check the website for session times.
For more information, call Holly or Wayne on (03) 5989 3154, visit the website, or go to their Facebook page.
Except where indicated, the images in this article were taken by the writer. They are not to be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Weekend Notes.
Why? Call in for a tasting, or concoct your own gin at a masterclass
When:Cellar door open Friday, Saturday & Sunday 11am – 5pm (open until 7pm between 16th December and 20th January). Masterclasses are available most Saturdays and Sundays, and some Fridays - check website for details.