Walk on the Seaside

Coastal Botanicals that Shore are Good

As you very well know, Australia is privileged to call itself home to a wealth of unique inhabitants. From the depth of the rainforests, through the vast deserts and down to the impressive coastline, there are diverse flora and fauna that create a truly special and unique environment. Whilst we can wander through distinctly Australian smelling forests, marvel at the cute marsupials and enjoy the native flowers, it is what Australian botanicals bring to our spirits that is of particular interest to local gin lovers.   

With the rising prevalence of coastal and savoury-style gins, we’re going to take a look at the different seaside botanicals that commonly feature in Australian gins and how they may influence your drink.

As Sea Parsley is the coastal botanical featured in Blend Etiquette's Yours and Mine gin, we feel it is a good one to start off with. Sea Parsley, sometimes called Sea Celery, is found all along the southern coastline of Australia and is similar in appearance to regular flat-leaf parsley, only a little darker and slightly shinier. It grows close to the waterline and is often submerged by the ocean during storms. Its distinctive flavour comes from growing in composted seaweed, which helps to give it a nice salty tang.

Next up is Lemon Myrtle, possibly the most widely used native botanical in Aussie gins after Tasmanian Pepperberry. This zesty bush food occurs natively in sub-tropical coastal rainforests in Queensland, sometimes referred to as the ‘Queen of the Lemon Herbs’ – and we can see why. It has a high level of citral (the compound found in citrus peel) and gives a creamy, yet punchy, lemony flavour that carries boldly across the palate.

As the name suggests, Salt Bush is a small shrub with edible, salty leaves. It thrives in dry salty soil and has a remarkable way of managing the salinity, which is a hugely beneficial trait for coastal farmers. There are over 250 different species of Salt Bush that have long been used in aboriginal culture for cooking and medicinal purposes as a poultice for wounds. It has found its way into modern cooking as a seasoning, and in more recent times, gin. The seeds and leaves provide a herby, salty flavour that is distinctly coastal and perfect for savoury gins.

Seaweed, or sea kelp, is as coastal a botanical as you’ll get. Seaweed is the common name for over 12,000 different varieties of plants around the world, each offering something different. With that many at your fingertips, there are a few to test out, should you decide a seaweed botanical in your gin is the way to go. Commonly though, adding seaweed provides a salty, umami taste that if distilled well, delicately balances a coastal style gin.

Lastly, we have Samphire, sometimes called sea asparagus, which grows in tidal zones on muddy, salt flats across the world. Like seaweed, it has a salty taste that is often used in food. When found in gin, this crunchy, salty, tasty little plant provides a fresh, herbaceous vibe. 

There are plenty of other coastal botanicals out there such as oyster shell, coastal rosemary, bladderwrack and even pippies that Aussie distillers are experimenting with at the moment! So, if a coastal gin catches your eye in the near future, take a look at their ingredients list and see what you may be in for. There is a lot of variety in this category, and it is well worth tasting a few, especially if you plan on mixing up a martini or two!

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