AKA THE GIN QUEEN
Caroline Childerley – is a true gin lover and connoisseur. Passionate about gin and those who make it, she runs the reputed The Gin Queen blog, is an educator, event coordinator, industry ambassador, collaborator and influencer, and a partner and organiser of gin festival Junipalooza. Caroline spoke to us about her – and our – tipple of choice.
How did you come to establish The Gin Queen blog in 2013?
I’d been in Australia for about two years and was on a mission to discover Australian gin when a friend suggested I write about it.
You run a range of gin-centric events, including Gin Queen on Tour and a gin school – tell us more about them.
Getting to meet fellow gin lovers is always fun. The tours are a great way for me to get people out to meet the distillers and, of course, people are relieved that I take care of the transport. No one wants to be the designated driver on a distillery tour, do they? It’s a way of bringing extra business to the distilleries too. I’m planning other sets of tours as we speak. The gin-school workshops I run at [Melbourne bar] Gin Palace are intimate – with around 16 people – and a way of really talking in-depth about the gins I’m showcasing.
What do you love most when educating people about gin?
I’m always delighted when someone brings a friend who declares they don’t like gin and then winning them over! I very much enjoy showing people gins they may not have come across and finding them a new favourite. You’re an active participant in the gin industry, including as a partner and organiser of the fabulous Junipalooza Melbourne.
What’s in store for this year?
Junipalooza is Australia’s most popular gin event. I own it in with my business partners Gin Foundry, who launched in London six years ago.
Our whole ethos is about meeting the makers. We don’t sell stands to gin brands that can’t guarantee their distiller or brand owner will be available across the whole weekend. We are very strict about that! We want guests to really make a connection with the people making their favourite gin. We were very excited to have Desmond Payne MBE, Master Distiller of Beefeater Gin, join us last year. People loved meeting the man behind such an iconic brand. This year is going to be an epic one for us. After three successful years at the Meat Market [in Melbourne], we are moving to a much bigger venue – Central Pier in Docklands. This means we can welcome even more gin lovers. There are lots of new distillers joining us, predominantly from Australia, but there will be a few internationals like Hernö from Sweden. Tickets went on sale in February and we have already sold 70% of tickets with five months to go!
What do you love about gin as a spirit?
First, I love the taste of juniper. Second, I love that so many cocktails have it as an ingredient.
What was your introduction to gin?
Strong G&Ts with my former mother-in-law.
Do you have a preferred way to drink gin?
So many different ways! It depends on my mood and the time of day.
Any current favourite gins?
I’ve recently discovered Isle of Harris Gin – delicious!
Best gin experience you’ve ever had?
Again, so many to choose from. Either Hernö taking me to Sweden to judge their international cocktail competition, or doing a collaboration with Four Pillars for The Gin Queen’s fifth anniversary.
What does your personal gin collection look like?
I think I’m currently sitting at around 200 bottles. I’m fortunate that distillers send me lots to try.
If you were stuck on a desert island, which three gins would you bring with you and why?
Never Never Distilling Juniper Freak Gin to make my martinis, Manly Gin for that ocean vibe, and Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz to keep me warm at night.
If you could travel to any city or country in the world to sample their gin, where would it be?
Not a particular country, but Scandinavia appeals.
You’ve been writing about gin and been involved in the industry for over five years, so how do you think it’s changed?
The sheer volume of gins available! When I started there were only around five Aussie gins. Now there are about 96 distilleries here making gin!
Anything you’d like to add?
Support Australian distillers wherever possible!
Want to learn more about gin? The Gin Queen runs a range of gin-centric events, including tours, workshops, gin schools and dinners. To find out what’s coming up and if there’s availability, visit theginqueen.com/events-page.