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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Delectable Gin and Vodka in the Swan Valley

Delectable's definition - highly pleasing, delightful and enjoyable. This perfectly sums up my recent visit to Old Young's Distillery in the Swan Valley near Perth.

To be the number 1 gin producer and one of the top 10 gin brands in Australia is one of the many goals of James Young, owner of Old Young’s Distillery in the Swan Valley. This is certainly achievable with the awesome gin he produces. Two time winner of the Australian Champion Distiller is among many of his other awards. In 2020, the first year Old Young’s entered the World Gin Awards, they won a gold medal for their Common Gin.

Their Pure No 1 Vodka won Best International Vodka at the American Distilling Institute’s, Craft Spirits Awards and their Pavlova Vodka has won for the last three years at the same awards.

For $5 per person at their Swan Valley cellar door you are able to taste 7 of their amazing spirits, with mixers, and learn a lot more about their products. This showcase usually takes about 30-45 entertaining and delicious minutes, so make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy this experience.

Check out the cheeky art at the door when you enter.

Or, take one of the twice monthly, 1 ½ hour gin masterclasses. Held on Sunday mornings, you can be a part of a group of 10. Whether an aficionado or a complete newbie, learn the history of gin, production information, and taste 3 gins. Make and take home your own 200ml bottle of gin with the satisfaction that you created this unique product yourself.

The beauty of attending the premises is not just to sample the selection but also to educate yourself, then amaze your friends with your knowledge.

I learnt that there is an alcohol strength called Navy Strength. It is 57% in gin and rum. In the 1700s sailors were paid partly in alcohol, common soldiers in rum and officers in gin. Sailors, fearing that the officers would water down their rum, would soak gunpowder in the rum. If it exploded it would be the good stuff - 57% alcohol content. If it didn’t, it was watered down.

Old Young’s Vodka has an alcohol content of 40%, their gins 42%, 50% and 57.5%.

As it is illegal to own a still in Australia (it is perfectly legal as long as you have a license) and produce our own spirits, you can also currently buy Old Young’s products at over 100 outlets throughout Perth, and Nationally through Woolworths and in bars in Victoria. Mail order direct from Old Young's is also available.

Speaking of mail order, James has created a monthly subscription service – the Old Youngs Juniper Society. For $59 a month (which includes postage), you will receive a unique and exclusively flavoured 500ml bottle of gin. These flavours will be taste sensations, both experimental and exciting. The first bottle is called F**K COVID and flavoured with Pepperberry, Lillypilly and honey from the property. This sounds awesome.

As James produces an Aussie favourite flavour – Pavlova Vodka, will we see a meat pie flavoured gin as well?

Before James, who was born and bred in WA, created Old Young’s on Friday 12 May 2016, he has been a graphic designer, a National Women’s Hockey Coach in Lithuania, a Marketing and Commercial Manager for Netball WA and Hockey Australia and Acting CEO of Swimming Australia.

I asked James “Why a gin distiller?” He said that as a gin drinker himself, he took a leap of faith and started this business. He wanted to be a craft distiller and the timing was good. Craft spirits are less than 1% of the Australian market and there is opportunity for sustainable growth. Old Young's is built to last. James loves talking about his products and displays great passion about both current products and future developments. He enjoys looking for new opportunities.

When asked how he would want to be remembered, I loved his reply:

· Making really good gin and telling really good stories

· Intelligently irreverent

· Thinking and thoughtful

· True to his manifesto

James gave me a copy of his manifesto and I also believe they are great words to live by.

Gin is all gluten free, vegan and sugar free. The Pavlova Vodka does contain sugar, it is created with strawberry, kiwifruit, passionfruit, burnt sugar and vanilla bean. Mmmmm.

Another interesting fact is that vodka can be created from wheat, sugar cane or grapes (not just the potatoes I thought it was from). It is distilled to 96% ethanol and 4% water for purity, then distilled to 40% alcohol. (better to drink than use as a hand sanitiser!)

For example: the pure No. 1 vodka is made from 90% sugar cane for smoothness and 10% grape for warmth.

Amongst the botanicals used in there Gin are included: Tuscan Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Bush Mint, Sea Parsley, Juniper Myrtle, Lemon Myrtle, Desert Lime, WA Citrus, aniseed, Cardamon. Just reading these delicious flavours makes me want to taste the gin and vodka now.

So, do your taste buds a flavour favour and take a sip of Old Young’s, either at the cellar door in the Swan Valley, at a store, or by mail order (remember the monthly Juniper club for exclusive sensations).

Oh, and when I asked James how he chose the name of his company, it is simple – he is the oldest child of the Young brothers!

Happy Travels!

#maturesolotraveler #solotraveler #solotraveller #solowoman #ayearinperth #oldyoungs #swanvalley #vodka #gin

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