After settling into our digs at Bishop’s Court in Bathurst (which I’ll unreservedly gush about later), the willing and amicable co-owner David and his compadre/photographer/good egg Louie drove us to Stone Pine Distillery, clearly because the road trip theme of fermented and/or distilled intoxicants is a strong and relentless one.*
Stone Pine was the first of many buildings we encountered on our trip that made use of local wood, corrugated iron, whimsy and chickens to really let us know we’re in the country – in other words, it’s rustic and charming as all get-out.
From the die-cut metal sign to the found-iron dragon sculpture, we were almost distracted from our primary goal – to taste some boutique hooch. Now, anyone who’s ever met me or read any five words I’ve strung together knows that my two primary loves in life (along with food, music, Wookiees, disdain and man-parts) are beer and gin. So when David told me that Stone Pine make their own gin infused with native citrus and botanicals, Charlotte and I almost got some exercise sprinting towards the cellar door.
Inside, we met Ian the Scot, owner and maker of pure angel’s tears. Now, I just want to check – at any stage today did you have an adorable man with a Scottish accent constantly offering to refresh your glass with all manner of delicious potent nectars? No? I guess Charlotte and I won that round, huh.
After settling in at the rough-hewn, local-wood bar, the tasting began. I must say, if I were allowed to invent tourism awards (and hell, this is my blog, so let’s just say I am), this place would win a bucket-load, primarily 2010 Bar That Most Makes You Want To Slide Shots Along It Just Like In The Movies. In order, we tasted:
1. Wild Lime Vodka. Ian the Scot has a thing for limes. Charlotte asked him if that was why he was wearing a green jumper. Neither of us can remember his answer.
2. Gin made with juniper berries (duh), lemon myrtle, ironbark, river mint, finger lime and wattle seed. This is amazing. I’m fairly hardcore with my gin, with my penchant for extremely dirty martinis and whatnot, but I think even shot-shy folk could enjoy this straight. Half citrusy, half botanical, there’s a sophisticated late-summer cocktail party in my mouth and everyone’s invited.
3. Wild Limecello. Mild. Tangy. Refreshing. Ian the Scot is a total lime-ophile.
4. Bramble Liqueur. A blackberry liqueur that stops the right side of sweet just long enough to settle into the armchair of awesome.
5. Grappa, made with product from Vale Creek wines, the owners of which we were to meet later at dinner. Grappa is for champions of alcohol only.**
On a side note, I’ve always wanted to ask Charlotte Dawson to give me some catwalk tips. On our way back to the car, I can only assume that her advice would have been “Stop walking in a zig-zag and saying ‘woo!’”. That girl really knows her stuff.
On an even sidier note, I have a message for any bartender worth their cocktail onions – get some Stone Pine into your cocktails, quick-sticks. And also save me a seat at the bar.
*And we have absolutely no problem with that.
** Yeah. I mean me.