We all want and crave belonging. It's something that's intrinsic to our identity and our place in the world. Without it we seem to be rudderless. I mean, how can you start a journey without a sense of where you began it?
In an agricultural and viticultural sense, belonging takes on its own meaning: terroir. This French term - translating to ‘from the land’ - refers to all of the environmental factors that have an impact upon the expression of flavour within an agricultural product. While this may be a term you’re familiar with in reference to wine, the term is also extensively used when referring to coffee, tobacco, hops, agave, tea, chocolate and many other products.
Soil composition, climate, geomorphology and the host of micro-organisms that exchange nutrients between root systems and other plant matter within the area of production play a hidden but incredibly important role in the expression of flavour.
But why the heck would it mean so much to us? We’re a gin distillery, not a winery or cheese-wright; a sense of place, belonging and terroir shouldn’t mean much…
Wrong. In fact, who we are, where we come from and the land around us forms an inseparable part of every drop of spirit we produce. From the botanicals we use to the grapes in our distillate, everything we use has a story of its own. Not just one of producers, but one of the land and of this wonderful and singular country we are privileged to live in.
In fact, the expression of land is amplified when making a spirit, because in the very act of distillation you are drawing out the core of the botanical or grain that you are distilling, therefore the effect of place, terroir and microclimate are intensified and put under a microscope.
However, the idea of terroir is simply the gastronomic manifestation of an idea that almost all Indigenous peoples across the world had discovered before the Greeks were placing wine in clay amphora. Native American tribes commonly referred to it as ‘the web of life’, while Maori tribes call it turangawaewae, which translates to ‘a place to stand’. The Indigenous people of Australia refer to the land as the owners of the self - hence the term, ‘the land we belong to’.
The inescapable reality of the microscope of distillation on flavour, coupled with this Indigenous sentiment is how we embark on our journey to uncover a spirit that is truly reflective of this unique and beautiful land.
Bob Randall, a Yankunytjatjara elder and traditional owner of Uluru said of his land, ‘how can you feel lonely, when all around you, from this ground up… is family. The completeness of being who you are, where you are… I wouldn’t change it for anything’.