It's not all glitz and glamour in the distillery - in fact more often than not it's pretty tedious. But it's all worth it when creativity is able to be let loose on the distillery floor - for us, that means when we're distilling Limited Edition Gins. We're lucky to craft these products, and the reason we're able to do it is because of you dear reader - the people that love what we get up to behind the scenes and are able to flex our muscles, especially when that includes native Australian ingredients we're passionate about.
Macadamias weren't a botanical that needs any form of elevation - they're our most well known export, so much so that we don't even produce the worlds highest quantity (South Africa holds that mantle). When we began producing Macadamia gin, it was more about doing that botanical justice, and distilling a spirit that can hark back memories for eating freshly roasted Macadamias.
But working with an ingredient like Macadamias posits its own challenges - the main one being that it really doesn't distill very well. The flavour that comes through on the other end of distillation is quite creamy - very pleasant, delicious even - but it doesn't taste like Macadamia should.
So our Distiller Jake MacKinlay worked his magic and came up with a solution - and it's one we've been doing a little bit recently - post-maceration. Placing the macadamias to infuse with the gin after distillation, to extract the oils for a more intense flavour. Trial one of raw macadamias was good, but more flavour was required. So we thought, why not roast them?
Our trial worked a treat - but how do you do it for a 1000L distillation run? Thats Kilos and Kilos of Macadamias! We don't have a commercial roaster at our disposal, and it's not like we can use a creme bruleé torch on hundreds of macadamias like we did for our trial. So in a brainstorming session, we came up with an idea: we would roast them over coals.
What followed was one of the more exciting experiments we've undertaken at Applewood since our Smoked Gin Collab with Byrdi, where we used a retired barrel and a smoking gun to smoke Davidson Plums. Luckily our founders Brendan & Laura had just purchased a literal tonne of Australian redgum for their Firepit at home (on the distillery's block), we used a few logs to smoke our Macadamias - and left them with a fire for the night.
So we wrapped up a few bundles of macadamias in some tin foil and once the coals were nice and mellow, we chucked them on the fire. It worked an absolute treat, despite some slight over-roasting on a few batches. If you're not aware, Macadamias are loaded with oils, which is great for so many reasons, but the oil is particularly fatty (good fats), and fat is particularly flammable. So we had a few burning Macs...
The good news is that the resultant macadamias were delicious to eat! Only the outsides were just slightly blackened, with the insides nice and roasted, and the blackened outsides adding a wonderful smokiness to the nuts! We didn't want the resultant gin to be too smokey, so we blended the roasted macadamias with some raw in equal measure for post-maceration
For those who have our Limited Edition Macadamia Gin, that's where that remarkable savoury nuttiness comes from! A bit of creative for us in the distillery to craft, but we're absolutely thrilled with the result, a gin we believe recalls those memories of eating handfuls of roasted Macadamias - this time alongside a campfire.