Water of Life – Husk Distillers
When I started this series a couple of years ago, I highlighted that the Australian spirits scene is thriving, with distilleries mushrooming manifold. What in the current day and age had initially its objectives set on the creation of gin and whiskey, eventually branched out into the creation of other variants as well – specifically rum, whose history on terra australis dates back to the eighteenth century when the implications of its import and the resulting popularity earned the local troops the not exactly flattering telling moniker “Rum Corps”.
In 2020, Australian rum distilleries have refined their art, specifically in Queensland where the range of fine and varied rums created from the local world class sugar cane.
Husk Distillers is the venture of the Messenger family, who set out to create their own plantation distillery on their cattle and cane farm in the Northern region of New South Wales with the objective to create a paddock to bottle agricole rum with a unique Australian twist as the local terroir and provenance plays a prominent role in all aspects of the creation.
However, the production of their Husk Rum comes with limitations as it can only be produced from freshly crushed cane juice, which limits the window of opportunity to harvest season from August to November. Not unlike many whiskey distilleries do, the alternative for the interim while the rum was maturing, was the creation of gin. Given Husk Distillers’ willingness to push the boundaries in every form imaginable, they set out to challenges people’s perception of what gin can be.
Enter Ink Gin.
As the name suggests, Husk’s gin variant is an idiosyncratic one, with the core expression getting its uniqueness from the use of local botanicals as well as the play with colour: As soon as tonic is added, the colour changes from deep blue to purple due to the Thai flower clitoria ternetea channelling its magic once it is added post-distillation through floral infusion. The colour change is caused by the pH sensitivity of the flower, which triggers the transformation once acid or Tonic water is added.
Taste wise, the nostrils are tickled by a melange of piney, citrussy notes with juniper at the core and centre. On the top of the mouth sweet citrus, orange and myrtle unfold their flavours in all their glory, framed by floral highlights, which find their culmination in the elongated yet crisp finish, counterpointed by the warmth and welcomed bitterness that the pepper berries create.
Husk’s slightly Ink Sloe & Berry Gin is their own take on classic English sloe gin recipe, with the adage of Australian rosella flowers being the defining factor, as their crispy and tarty flavour characteristics counterbalance the nature of the other sweeter botanicals. Clocking in at a considerably lower ABV of below 30%, this makes an excellent sipper without necessitating any other additions – even for the untrained palate.
Summa sumarum, Husk Distiller’s Ink Gins are definitely a showpiece, which deliver on all fronts, starting with the bottle design, the colour change gimmick and the interesting flavour combinations derived from thirteen organic botanicals, which make it highly enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Husk Distiller’s emissions are wildly popular and their expressions almost sell out immediately, so I was not able to sample their Spiced Bam Bam and Triple Oak rums, however, if their Husk Pure Cane unaged Agricole is anything to go by, I will be in for a treat:
Made from Husk’s own sugar cane and double distilled after fermentation, each batch is seasonal and reflects that year's vintage, the seasons, the soil, the terroir, which in the case of my sample was a vibrant and fresh that excelled in being a softer variant of Caribbean white agricoles with its grassy and creamy flavours – an ideal basis for cocktails.
image from company website