Two blokes originally from Canberra have joined the craft-spirits revolution, bringing small-batch gin to the people of Sydney and beyond.
Jesse Kennedy and Griffin Blumer have turned their mutual love of the juniper-based spirit into a full-blown business, creating Poor Toms distillery in Sydney’s inner western suburb of Marrickville.
The duo, who met at school and both moved to Sydney to work, started out making the spirit on their kitchen table using a one litre still from Spain. Using store-bought vodka, they added juniper berries and distilled it. But it was an expensive hobby to maintain, and so they decided to throw in the towel on their existing careers (Grif as an actor, Jesse in finance) and dive head first into the realm of craft distilleries.
With a little help from a crowd-funding campaign and their collective savings, they bought a 200L copper still from Germany and recruited experienced distiller, Marcel Thompson, to join the team. The 28-year veteran of the industry has worked with some of the legends of Australasian gin making, doing everything from operating the stills to overseeing full production and contributing to research and development. With his wisdom on their side, Poor Toms Gin was born.
These days, Poor Toms Dry Gin is handcrafted from Australian wheat spirit and features botanicals such as fresh green apple, native strawberry gum-leaf and chamomile. The base, made from a blend of dried juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root, cinnamon and cardamom, is combined with a number of flavours, dependant on the batch. Previous combinations have included angelica, a sweet-smelling root popular in Finland and cubeb, a pepper with medicinal properties.
The small scale of their operation means the gin is full of flavour, but still clear and clean. You shouldn’t expect a traditional London dry gin – the team aim to deliver a spirit that expresses who they are and the city they live in, meaning it’s a little unconventional.
Their custom made still, named Jane, features a three-plate rectification column, which allows absolute precision when it comes to distilling. The result is a fresh, floral and delicate fruit profile, perfect for mixing with tonic and garnishing with a strawberry.