The creators of the World’s Best Classic Gin are looking to build on their success with a move to the McLaren Vale where construction of their new distillery is currently underway.
Global recognition came early to Adelaide’s Never Never Distillery Co. Six months after launching their pint-sized distillery at Big Shed Brewing Co’s facility in August 2017, they were ranked seventh in Drinks International’s annual Top Trending Gin List. The distillery then won gold medals in the 2018 San Francisco Spirits Competition Awards and placed third in the 2019 Top Trending Gin list. More recently, they took out the World Best Classic Gin category at this year’s World Gin Awards in London in February for their Southern Strength gin – the only Australian gin that has won the prestigious award.
Managing director George Georgiadis says he attributes their accomplishments to years of preparation prior to opening the business.
“We went on a five-year journey of education, R&D and trial and error,” says Georgiadis, who co-founded Never Never with Sean Baxter and Tim Boast. “I think all of us said: ‘We want to make a gin that we’d like to drink.’ And we didn’t stop iterating until we got to a point where we were absolutely happy with it.”
Baxter says the inspiration behind their range of gins comes from a shared love of classic juniper-heavy gin and desire to “bring juniper back into the conversation”.
“We created this particular classic style first and foremost because we are massively passionate about juniper,” Baxter says. “We noticed quite early on that there was seemingly a movement away from what is considered to be a very classic representation of flavour when it comes to the style. When we started putting it out there, we realised we had created a completely contemporary and new representation of that style.”
The juniper berry is gin’s main ingredient and is one of nine botanicals that make up Never Never’s bottles of the spirit, which are produced at their current 250 square metre set-up at Imperial Measures Distilling’s warehouse on West Thebarton Road, where they are able to bottle up to 5000 bottles of gin a day.
Georgiadis says their gins are built around championing juniper in every bottle with a triple-juniper distillation process.
“We steep it for 24 hours to extract the piny, heavy, resinous flavours. We then add fresh juniper to the pot, vapour and distil it.”
The three gins in their core range are: Triple Juniper, Southern Strength and Juniper Freak. Head distiller Boast says all their gins, including their mainstays, incorporate varying proportions of botanicals to achieve a variety of flavour profiles.
“The Triple Juniper gin was the first we released,” Boast says. “It was made to be a fantastic gin and tonic as well as working in the classic gin cocktails because it has that lovely pine, menthol, oily texture and profile. Southern Strength gin is a savoury gin, so it has an elevated savoury component, which means it works well in savoury gin cocktails (so anything that’s got mint and lime or garnish in it) and has 52 per cent ABV. The Juniper Freak gin was a concept we created around a gin event called Junipalooza. We were going to the event in Melbourne for the first time, which had some of the best educated and most passionate gin consumers in Australia, so we thought we’d bring a gin that really spoke to those people.”
Motivated to continue growing Never Never, construction of their new McLaren Vale distillery is currently underway and should be up and running by the end of the year.
“McLaren Vale is a massive project and the amount of work required between now and [when we] open the doors is mind boggling to make sure that the space is a fantastic representation of what we want to do,” Georgiadis says.
“We’re doing a joint development with Chalk Hill Wines, so there’s going to be our full production distillery, a distillery door, which will be a cocktail bar and tasting room. Chalk Hill will be doing a wine cellar door and there’s going to be an Italian food offering as well. We’re also going into international markets. We’re in Singapore now, heading into Hong Kong shortly and doing some events in London in the middle of the year.”