Underground Spirits – You call that a gin? This is a gin

Underground Spirits came into my life some time ago. I’ve been intending to write about them for a long time, longer than it should have been.

I first met Underground Spirits whilst working as a Brand Ambassador. Two lovely ladies approached me for a little help and direction as they were new into the UK from Australia and wanted a bit of guidance to get things started and get out there.

Sure, I said, it’s always nice to help someone. They left me a sample bottle and went on their way. We emailed for a while and then drifted off.

viv and claudia

6 months pass and I’m sat at the World Gin Awards. I get talking to a couple of ladies who after a minute I recognise as the Claudia Roughley and Vivien Pailas, the two lovely ladies from Underground Spirits. Fate has spoken. They sent me a full bottle, I moved house, I finished University and suddenly we’re here.

They have been incredibly patient. Thank you.

So, let’s get started. Underground Spirits had my hooked almost immediately on their idea. “It’s not what you put into gin, but what you take out”, Claudia proudly told me. The basis of their gin begins with good quality botanicals, but it’s the method of filtration that makes it something special. Medical grade filtration equipment is used to filter at sub-zero temperatures, removing impurities and leaving the gin tasting super clean.

I’m only aware of one other company that filters then gin post distillation. I’m sure there are more out there, but it’s certainly not the most common method of production. So how much does this affect the flavour of the gin? Well, it does give a certain level of clarity. The botanicals seem to shine. There is a freshness and a cleanliness to it that set it off in comparison to a lot of other gins.

As Vivien explains, “Our point of difference is that we use medical technology in our distillation process. Using a process learned through IVF tech in Toby’s day job’ as a fertility specialist, he developed and subsequently patented a cryofiltration process that eliminates impurities post distillation. This basically involves the cooling down of the spirit to minus 30 degrees and then passing it through a series of blood filtration membranes (or nano filters). The cool temperatures allows the impurities in the spirit crystalise and clump together and then we pass it through these nano filters which go down to about .02 microns, which means none of those impurities get through, so it eliminates the alcohol burn you usually feel when you drink alcohol.”

The filtration technique was created by Underground Spirits founder, Toby Angstmann, a Dr and IVF specialist. After some time perfecting the technique to create his vodka in his garage, Sister Claudia wanted to create a gin and after putting herself through a gin making course she found herself equipped to create a gin using Toby’s pristine base, focused around punchy Australian botanicals.

And being an Australian gin, does it carry any of the Australian terroir? I am confident to say yes, with botanicals such as Lemon Myrtle, and Tasmanian Pepperberry, which gives the gin that familiar warm spicy that is apparent in a lot of Australian gins. This alongside a strong gin base with the addition of Poppyseeds and Black Pepper give the gin a lovely punch to its naturally earthy flavour. The earthiness works well in cocktails and Underground Spirits do have various cocktail recipes to view on their website. If you want a simple G&T then consider garnishes like orange, mint or lemon thyme.

There are other variations becoming available, one that is particular enticing is the Shiraz Pepperberry Gin, a variant that came about from an experiment and is soon to be a permanent member of the Underground Spirits range. I’m a big fan of the Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz so I’m incredibly excited to try some of Undergrounds delightful cask aged.

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Underground spirits are around a year and a half old now, and they’ve had a fantastic first year. Spreading from their base in Canberra to launching in London at the German Gymnasium, a restaurant and cocktail bar set in a fantastic Grade 2 listed building in Kings Cross, and what was once the first ever purpose built gym in England. This along with awards beginning with gold at the Global Spirits Awards in Vegas. Their achievements are a testament to their ambition, with them to soon open a larger distillery and intending to move beyond Australia and the UK into other export markets.

“We use the Vodka as our base spirit which has won a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year. We are the only Aussie Vodka to pick up a double gold. We also won a silver medal for the Gin at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a Silver at the IWSC & Bronze at the 2018 International Spirits Challenge. I know awards aren’t everything but they certainly help us add credibility to what we do, our process and the quality of the product.”

There has been a notable rise in availability and popularity in Australian spirits here in the UK, due to their unusual and comforting flavour profiles. I’m not at all surprised to see Underground Spirits growing steadily here. Their creative attitude towards processes and botanicals is sure to keep them afloat in the market. It really is a great gin.

You can get your hands on some of their Signature Gin or Vodka on their website. Well done guys! Thoroughly enjoying your work. Please do give me a shout when the Shiraz Pepperberry is available!