Let’s get stuck into another non-wine drink, eh?
Yesterday we forayed into beer here on the new-look Australian Wine and Drinks Review (which I’m calling AWDR). Today, to continue the drinks diversity, it’s a dirty martini kit from NSW distillery SoHi.
I love proper dirty vodka martinis, especially when the olives are chunky and the vodka has real flavour. SoHi, the Southern Highlands distillery that made a name with its Potato Crisp Vodka, has upped the martini ante with the Extra Virgin Vodka, which sees traditional potato vodka mixed with local olive brine for extra texture.
Then, to match the vodka is SoHi’s High & Dry Vermouth, which uses bittersweet botanicals and a dash of local honey. The base juice is Pinot Gris from Logan Wines in Mudgee. Finally, add SoHi’s O’live A Little martini olives from Alto Olives in Crookwell for the dirty martini experience…
I took this DIY martini kit away on holidays figuring it would be the perfect post-beach afternoon drink. The only challenge is that it makes a martini too dry and serious for casually sitting around in towels. The vodka is pure, yet with that great earthen charisma of proper, potato-based spirits, and although I looked hard, I couldn’t taste the olive brine. There’s a textural richness at the edges; otherwise, it’s reasonably linear and classic. The vermouth is seriously clever, with a bittersweet edge (and a whiff of honey) that makes it sit closer to white wine (or fino sherry without the flor) in a modern style. It’s a fine vermouth.
Perhaps the only thing I didn’t like about this collection was the olives – I get the push for firm textures, but these felt ungenerous and with large seeds, which meant I needed loads of them and found myself wanting a bit more roundness. Martini anoraks probably love them, but give me more fleshiness any day.
Complete with stylish ‘can I keep them when you’ve finished?’ bottles (see above), I am a big fan of these SoHi spirits. The finesse and complexity is a tier above most of what I usually drink, even if it felt too serious that it needed a dedicated cocktail glass and consumed wearing/accompanied by someone wearing (you can choose) a cocktail dress.
An easy 4.5 stars. SoHi website.
In other news, buy this book
The pre-orders for Andrew Caillard MW’s epic new Australian Ark book are now open, and, despite having zero places where this 3-volume, 1500-page tom on Australian wine history will fit, I’m going to buy one, and so should anyone with an interest on where our wine industry has come from.
Caillard has been working on this book since 2006, calling on thousands of books and references, plus pulling together a team of archivists to match imagery to his words.
I spoke to Caillard about this labour of love last week, who notes that it doesn’t work with traditional publishers or even most bookstores because of the format. It’s a not-for-profit project that needs pre-order backing to determine how many copies of this incredibly substantial book to print.
(I have no financial interest in the Australian Ark of any kind. It’s just a wonderful project that I want to see succeed).
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