Gin surge gives rise to Prohibition


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By Andrew Spence

A navy strength gin believed to be “the most potent in the Southern Hemisphere” has been awarded an international gold medal less than a month after launching.

Boutique South Australian gin distiller, Prohibition Liquor Co, collected the award for its Bathtub Cut Gin – the highest overproof gin ever produced in Australia – at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition last month.

The 69 per cent gin was released on June 23 and follows the success of the company’s 42 per cent original small batch premium Prohibition Gin, which launched in December last year.

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Prohibition Liquor Co won gold for its Bathtub Cut Gin – the highest overproof gin ever produced in Australia

Founded by mates, Adam Carpenter and Wes Heddles, the company’s original gin – which won a Silver Medal in Melbourne – contains 11 botanicals including juniper, lemon myrtle, wormwood, pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, ginger, blood orange, ruby red grapefruit, green tea, lavender and vanilla.

The gin is made under contract by Brendan Carter at Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills and transported to the company’s base in an inner Adelaide suburb where it is bottled and labeled by hand.

Carpenter, a graphic designer by trade, Adam says the Prohibition theme is an appropriate fit as he and Wes refers to themselves as bootleggers.

“It takes about a week to make a gin and that’s why in prohibition days it was such a good thing. You could make it quickly, you could make it at home and you could make it in the bathtub,” Adam says.

“From a branding perspective it was playing on the mystique of the prohibition era but still being contemporary, high quality and at a premium shelf price.

“We believed that bootlegging philosophy for us was right. Gin’s the fastest growing spirit in the world and this growth in gin demand is unforseen since prohibition days so it’s like the new era prohibition.”

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Prohibition co-founder, Adam Carpenter

The biggest challenge is now to make the overproof gin drinkable neat at 69 per cent, says Adam.

“The main element that really does the work for making it approachable is cassia bark, Chinese cinnamon, which helps to take the heat away,” he says.

“We’ve also put star anise in there and really pushed up the wormwood, stripped back some of the other elements and punched up the citrus.

“Everything had to be punchier because at 69 per cent you’re combatting a lot of alcohol.”

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The 69 per cent gin was released in June

It surpasses West Winds’ Captain’s Cut (63 per cent) and Four Pillars’ Navy Strength (58.8 per cent) as the strongest gin in Australia.

“It’s completely different to anything else on the market, which is great. The overproofs are really seeing a spike in demand and there’s definitely a thirst for it.

“It’s not in your face – people taste it and say they can’t believe it’s 69 per cent because it’s so approachable,” Adam says.

The Bathtub Cut will now contest the New York International Spirits Competition in October.

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