Ageing Spirits On The Lees

Words by Jane Ryan

Photography by Supplied

Ageing Spirits On The Lees image 1

You’ve probably heard of wines, in particular champagne, aged on the lees, you’ve also probably heard of some spirits distilled on the lees, such as Cognac, but this might just be a world first; gin aged on the lees.

Not its own lees mind, but some from a chardonnay made by WA’s Fishbone Wines.

The new spirit comes from The West Winds, called Sur Lie Gin. It starts its life as a super citrusy gin before being aged for 12 months on the lees in Fishbone Wines’ ex-chardonnay barrels.

On the lees, which in winemaking uses the French term sur lie, usually means a wine that is left to age without being filtered after fermentation, and the liquid picks up toasty, nutty qualities and additional depth and complexity from the yeast left behind.

It’s by no means the first aged gin from the Margaret River distillery, who typically take advantage of the plethora of incredible wineries surrounding them. But this is the first with such an unusual request to leave the dead yeast behind. Fishbone Wines were up for the challenge, and so the distillate was added to their older oak barrels, to ensure it wasn’t overly woody, with the lees still inside. The result? The gin is surprisingly still quite citrusy on the nose, but underneath there’s that toasty, brioche, biscuit-y notes you’d hope to find from the lees.

The West Winds Sur Lie Gin has already picked up Best in Class at the Australian Gin Distillers Association 2020 for Matured Gins, and of course it’s limited edition. You can check it out on their website here.

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