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One of our social media posts had followers showcasing their impressive gin collections. We weren’t expecting the response from Logan Bittinger, whose incredible collection of more than 500 gins blew the rest of us out of the water.
We ventured out to Logan’s home on the Mornington Peninsula to find out what all the fuss was about. He welcomed us into his purpose-built gin cellar – plush with smart lighting and juniper-painted walls – before corralling us into his tasting room where we discussed all things gin.
What made you fall in love with gin?
My history with gin goes way back to when my wife and I were first dating. When we’d go out she would always get a champagne cocktail and I’d always get a gin and tonic – that was our thing.
Then my friend who owns a local liquor store suggested that rather than just simple name-brand gins, I should try something a little bit different. I didn’t know at that point about all the different types of gin, from London Dry to Old Tom to barrel-aged. Next thing you know, my mind exploded and now I have more than 500 varieties.
When did you start seriously collecting gins?
I’ve been collecting for about five years. It started slowly and took around four years to get to 350. But I’ve collected 150 in the past year, which is a little bit disturbing.
Do you remember the first gin that started this epic collection?
It was either the Scottish gin Caorunn, or Rogue Spirits Spruce Gin, which is American. It’s strange because I don’t drink a lot of American gin, but that was my introduction to a gin that can really taste quite different to a ‘normal’ gin. When you drink it you feel like you’re in a pine forest somewhere in the northwest US. It all sort of spiralled from there.
Is that what draws you to gin – the differences?
That’s exactly right. It’s the ability to take something that’s within a family – like gin – in so many different directions. Do I want something that’s sweeter or drier or more floral or spicy or savoury? You name it, gin can take you there.
How do you like your gin?
I mainly drink G&Ts because I drink gin for the different flavours it offers. I actually did a blind tasting with a friend where we put the same volume of the same good quality gin in 10 different shot glasses, and then poured different tonics over them and tested every single one. My favourite was far and away the Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic.
So mainly I just add ice and sometimes a fresh garnish if I’ve got something around, usually a bit of citrus if it’s appropriate or occasionally a sprig of rosemary or sage leaf. Recently I’ve also got into dehydrated fruits like grapefruit.
Logan’s Desert Island Gins
“I often find it difficult to describe the flavour profile of this rare Belgian gin – it’s a bit like describing wine. Everyone uses their own words. It’s just extremely smooth and delicious and drinkable.” https://www.ginbelet.org/en
“My favourite from Loch Distillery. It’s their sort of Australiana variety with a mix of Australian and traditional botanicals. They’ve done a very good job in producing a good locally flavoured, extremely easy-drinking gin.” https://lochbrewery.com.au/
Ginifer Chilli-Pineapple Infused Gin
“This South African drop has the warmth of chilli with a bit of sweetness of fruit, while still maintaining that lingering juniper taste.”
What gins do you find yourself coming back to at the moment?
I’ve been drinking quite a few Melburnian varieties lately. There’s a little place called Tiny Bear Distillery – they’re a small production that basically work out of a shed in an industrial area, and they like to experiment quite a bit. They make several different varieties with lovely use of spices. The other big other guys that are doing really, really well and I love to drink are Patient Wolf. One of the issues is that I have such a rapid acquisition of new gins. So when I get something new I usually drink it for two or three nights before I have to move on to the next one.
You’re a cardiologist and your wife is a pathologist. How do do you juggle the busy life of being a doctor with amassing such a huge collection of gins?
It gets a bit tricky at times because when I’m on call I can’t drink anything. So I have to be fairly strict and regimented. But it’s not all about how much alcohol I consume. I very much subscribe to the notion of ‘drink quality rather than quantity’. I also love having people around and I can wax lyrical about gin for hours. I’d love to dabble in distilling, but I don’t have any time at the moment. Though I do have a friend who keeps threatening to buy a small 20-litre still, so who knows? Maybe one day.