This year’s Juniperlooza was bigger and better than the 2015 festival, bringing together 20 different Australian and overseas boutique gins along the Yarra for two glorious sunshiny days dedicated to the love of lady gin.
All of the regular favorites were there like Four Pillars, West Winds and Melbourne Gin Company, but this year they came with a few tricks up their sleeves to inspire and delight gin fans on the day, like Four Pillars and their recently released Christmas Gin (which tastes like Christmas) and the uniquely purple Ink Dry Gin by Husk Distillers which gets it colours from the delicate leaves of the Butterfly Pea flower and glows like a purple dream when mixed with tonic.
Originally a rum distiller, Husk were just one of more than a few of the brands present that had their roots in rum, whiskey or otherwise, and had since decided to branch out into the world of gin.
The absolute highlight for us was the Negroni Float from ever-popular favorites, Melbourne Gin Company. This drink proved to be such a hit that the distiller, Andrew, had to take a little side trip run down to Collins Street to top up the ice-cream supply mid-festival.
Stand out gins which we encountered for the first time were the East London Liquor Gin, which is distilled in an old London glue factory, we’re reminded of this by the cheeky upside down horse on their label, and Prohibition Liquor Co’s Bathtub Cut Gin – our personal favourite, though it did pack a rather large punch at 69%!
As always, getting access to meet and chat with the distillers is always a highlight of this festival, you can always feel the passion they have for the craft through your conversation.
This year was also the debut of the ‘Dirty Martini Lounge’ located aboard a boat moored alongside the main festival hub in the Yarra River, which served up Navy Strength well, Dirty Martinis. Dangerous, but delicious.
The festival had its own currency pre-loaded to a card, much like a cruise ship – it was brilliant not having to carry cash at all, and with multiple roving ‘currency top up’ people and the ability to pay via card or even Apple Pay, you literally didn’t even have to get up for money admin things – the day was designed just to purely appreciate all of the gin.
The food as always was delicious and designed to complement the gin flavors. We hit up the Riverland Seafood Bar for oysters 3 ways (a favourite from last year) and a perfect match for the gorgeous sunny weather.
By the end of the day we had more than our fill of gin, but can’t wait for next year already.