Naught Distilling | Sangiovese Gin 2023

WRITTEN BY Rebecca Wellwood


Chris Cameron head distiller from Naught Distillery Founder and Head Distiller Chris Cameron

One fateful brewing session with mates sparked an idea that would turn the daily grind into something much, much bigger for owner and head distiller of Naught Distilling, Chris Cameron. At first glance, the former professional basketball player turned primary school teacher may seem a peculiar addition to the world of gin. Stolen time after work, on weekends, and during any other spare minute he could manage, Chris relentlessly threw himself into distilling. Tinkering with recipes, he went through iteration after iteration – more than 300 in total, but who’s counting – in search of the perfect Australian Dry Gin. Chris was ultra fastidious and had a vision to create the perfect gin to complement those truly splendid moments in life. 

Once Chris was satisfied with his recipe, it was time to turn his focus towards the distillery itself. Alongside Marcus Hanson, his elusive business partner they launched Naught Distilling into the Aussie gin scene in 2020 and haven’t looked back since. 

Contrary to first impressions, the name ‘Naught’ means anything but nothing, or zero. Its meaning harks back to the 1920s where its definition ran closer to ‘lost, ruined, wicked’ – and Mother’s Ruin of old seemed an appropriate fit. Much like the botanicals in their gins, Naught balances a blend of values; the first is an appreciation of feminine beauty and strength; and the second is the aim to free creativity from within. Their mantra of ‘playfully wicked, distinctly elegant’, embodies everything, whether a new gin or experience, that emerges from their headquarters in Melbourne’s northeast. 

Dubbed ‘the green wedge’, Chris’s hometown of Eltham is nestled in suburbia, yet holds its own as a densely-treed region boasting art, coffee and of course, gin! From their cocktail bar’s styling (more on that later) to the labels adorning every bottle, Naught invites patrons to lose themselves in their world and get just that little bit wicked.

Naught Team Naught team members Connor and Josh

Since 2020, the Naught team have grown from a team of 2 to over 20. The mood at the distillery is what keeps the close-knit crew going through the usual trials and tribulations of distillery life. A constant thirst for the perfect gin unites them – even if the concept of a ‘perfect gin’ is unattainable. 

Chris does a little bit of everything all while juggling being the face of the brand, head distiller and resident gin snob. Josh Sharp runs the venue and is Naught’s brand ambassador. You’ll find him hosting masterclasses, starring at restaurant pop-ups, running tastings, and developing collaborations with other brands. 

And the tasting room? Well, it’s the jewel in their crown – an indulgent speakeasy-style cocktail bar, showcasing the full range of gins, including limited special releases you can’t find anywhere else. 

Tucked away in the industrial backstreets of Eltham, Naught’s gorgeous bar, designed by Studio Y, has been described as an ‘ode to feminine beauty’. Velvet drapes and leather booths set the tone, while striking lighting cast from the flicker of tealight candles, a canopy of dried botanicals and Art-Deco inspired design lead to the beating heart of Naught – their giant 800L CARL still named Abigail. 

Visiting the bar is a fully immersive, intimate experience like no other. In what is no easy feat amongst Melbourne’s calibre of nightlife, Naught’s space has been crowned by TimeOut as one of the best cocktail bars in the city. Quite the accomplishment considering the trek to the outer suburbs to find it! 

For those of you who have been with us at Garden Street for a while, you’ll remember that this is not the first time we’ve teamed up with Naught. When we first shared their gin with you, their Australian Dry Gin was (and has since remained) a very firm crowd favourite – even at Garden Street HQ! We’re thrilled to be sharing another incredible, yet vastly different drop this time around. 

About Sangiovese Gin

The renowned Sangiovese grapes from Tuscany in Italy produce one of Chris’s favourite wines. With the Yarra Valley wine region at his fingertips, it is no surprise that he searched far and wide to find grapes that would help him make a Sangiovese Gin! 

To produce his amazing creation, Chris macerates partially crushed Sangiovese grapes for two months to infuse low proof gin with their flavour and signature colour, before pressing the grapes to extract even more juice. The team then filters out the spent grapes and adds their famous Australian Dry Gin until the ABV reaches 37.5% – the result is incredible flavour that doesn’t compromise on kick (because really, who doesn’t love a full-strength G&T!?). 

With nothing else added to the recipe, it’s very normal for tartrates (sediment) to form in the bottle – akin to what you’d find in a good wine. Exposure to cold temperatures can impact this too, so rest assured your gin is still perfect if you notice some of this goodness in the bottom of your bottle! 

The special thing about Naught’s Sangiovese Gin is that each year brings a new and unique release. Variations in weather conditions offer nuances to the flavour of each vintage’s grape yield, so every release is a limited-edition favourite and one to savour (if you can make it last!). 

For their 2023 release, Naught continues to feature local produce from the Yarra Valley as they have in previous years, but in typical distilling fashion, things aren’t always easy! This year’s vintage of Sangiovese grapes was very light on, so handpicking grapes to ensure the best quality was their only option. The challenge was then sourcing enough grapes, as Naught (yet again) had to amp up production to satisfy their thirsty fans (yay for us gin lovers!). 

The first iteration of the product was perfect as is (quite the rarity to hear)! The recipe stays true to the original recipe from 2021, with only the process fine-tuned over the last two years to maintain temperatures and control the oxidisation of the grapes.

Thanks to the delicious base of Naught’s Australian Dry Gin that goes in, the featured botanicals include toasted wattleseed, macadamia, pepperberry leaf, rosemary, star anise and orange. The Sangiovese grapes provide punchy cherry and juniper forward flavours on the palate, alongside subtle chocolate notes on the nose. The experience is a well-balanced, velvety blend of grapes married with the spice and savoury botanicals of their signature gin. The finish is long and lingering, and the dominating spice leaves you yearning for more. 

Given Naught’s Sangiovese gin sits at 37.5% ABV, it is surprisingly (very) easy to drink neat or over ice; we definitely recommend giving this a go for the full flavour experience! To complement the decadence of the Sanjo gin, we also love a punchy lemon-based tonic such as Midnight Mixers Bitter Lemon in a G&T. This month, we also break our general 3:1 tonic to gin ratio rule – 2:1 is a wonderfully indulgent sip and perfectly enjoyable without further dilution. 

You can also experiment with a smashing lemon soda, or squash. Load the glass with lots of ice, finish with a slice of orange and sip away. It’s a cracker in a variety of cocktails, or cut the fluff and enjoy on the rocks with an after-dinner (or before dinner...or both) cheeseboard. Divine! 

Other Products in the Range

Naught’s core series features four gins including their Sangiovese Gin. Their flagship Australian Dry Gin is the original signature gin with a distinctly Aussie stamp, using toasted wattleseed with warming spice. Their Classic Dry Gin is Naught’s delicious take on a London Dry style and their punchy Overproof Gin is their big, bold, citrussy Navy strength gin. 

From time to time, Naught also rotate an exclusive series of Signature releases for those wanting something a little bit different, carefully curated, and super limited. In former months, they’ve released 40 bottles of their perfectly spiced Easter Gin; and they’ve also combined their Australian Dry Gin with Shiraz grapes to release 300 bottles of Barrel Aged Shiraz Gin. The only way to access Signature series gins like these (and more!) is to keep your eyes peeled on their email list, and move quickly when one is announced. 

Since we last caught up with Naught, they’ve picked up awards left, right and centre for their Australian Dry Gin: 2021 Champion Australian Contemporary Gin at the Australian Distilled Spirit Awards (ADSA) and Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC). Their Overproof gin picked up another Gold at SFWSC; and the Sangiovese Gin won both Gold Outstanding at the International World Spirits Competition (IWSC) and Champion Victorian Gin at ADSA. They have already smashed 2023 with a Double Gold at SFWSC for their Overproof Gin, Gold for their Australian Dry Gin and Silver for both their Classic Dry Gin and Sangiovese Gins. Phew! We hope they have quite the pool room tucked away somewhere for that haul! 

Naught is keeping tight-lipped about any new releases on the horizon, but we’ve heard something spicy is in the works…  stay tuned! 

One last thing from Chris...

What is your favourite thing about running a distillery? 

“Meeting new people, seeing people’s faces when they try your product for the first time and love it. It is very rewarding creating something that someone else begins to love. It’s a feeling that is hard to describe, but it certainly makes us proud. The people you get to meet within the industry and customers from all walks of life make this job a very rewarding one.”

Gin type – Sangiovese Gin

Appearance – Rich Burgundy

Botanicals – Sangiovese grapes, juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, cassia, toasted wattleseed, macadamia, pepperberry leaf, rosemary, star anise, orange

Aroma – Bright red fruit and subtle chocolate, dried cherry and juniper

Palate – Juniper notes with perfect blend of savouriness and spice, well balanced and velvety

Finish – Long and lingering, cherry and subtle spice dominates leaving a memorable finish

Our perfect G&T
• 60ml Sangiovese Gin
• 120ml Midnight Mixers Bitter Lemon Tonic  
• Dehydrated Orange

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