CALLING ALL GIN BUFFS: GIN LOOT
Been sipping on G&Ts all summer long? We're right there with you. If you're like us and are a total sucker for a gin-based drink as your go-to, this is the article for you.
You've probably heard of sommeliers, but what about specialists for spirits? We sat down with Gin Specialist, Tim Laferla to chat about all things gin related - and it's safe to say he has left us considering a career change (just joking!).
As a Gin Specialist at Gin Loot, Laferla is basically a professional gin drinker... talk about a dream job! In his day-to-day, Laferla sources hundreds of gins, builds relationships with distilleries, as well as researching, writing and recording content for Gin Loot, working with some of the best distilleries to curate top of the line products for the subscription service. Operating on a monthly basis, the Gin Loot takes subscribers on a monthly adventure to learn about gin through various tastings - and is perfect for gin lovers out there looking to refine their palates and grow their knowledge.
Home-grown right here in Aus, Laferla is originally from Perth, where his work in hospitality kickstarted his passion for gin. Laferla has worked with several renowned restaurants, bars, and chefs both here and within the UK, including the likes of Simon Rogan, and at venues such as Mr. Cooper's House & Garden, Bam-Bou, City Social, as well as Sydney's very own Charlie Parkers and Scout at The Dolphin Hotel. With such a repertoire under his belt, it's safe to say Laferla's advice on gin is definitely worth taking.
So, whether you're a gin buff yourself or Laferla's globe-trotter career has simply piqued your interest, keep reading to chat all things from makes a great gin, all the way to Laferla's personal experience in creating bar and cocktail menus.
[TLSE] What are some of the things that set apart 'good' gin and 'great' gin?
[Laferla] A good gin gets the fundamentals right - firstly to be called a gin the strongest flavour must be juniper. Secondly, there must be a sense of balance between the juniper presence and all the other botanicals to create a complexity of flavour that keeps you coming back for more. A great gin does all that but has an X-factor. There is something unique about it that captures your interest.
Usually, through the flavour profile, it has something which just completely sets it apart from the rest of the pack in the most delicious possible way. There are so many good gins out there that I try, but they all taste similar and have similar brand stories. Gin Loot is a beautifully curated subscription service where we deliver three 60ml tasters to your door every month starting from $39. When I’m picking gins for our monthly subscription, I want something that is completely unique and has that point of difference - only the very best for our members!
Have you always been a fan of gin specifically, or was it something you grew into as your career progressed?
When I first started drinking, gin was never my drink of choice - I was a whisky guy. But as I got deeper into the cocktail scene that is where my love and passion for gin grew. If you read a lot of old cocktail books, you’ll find that gin is called for in two-thirds to three-quarters of all recipes! It’s pretty mind-blowing, but gin is the pillar of cocktail culture. And the reason for this is pretty simple - it's complex, versatile and each one has its own unique character. It’s the perfect all-rounder to create delicious mixed drinks.
What's your favourite thing about your job?
My favourite thing is all the amazing distilleries I get to work with - we really get to know all the people and wonderful stories behind the gins. We work with a diverse range of distilleries from the big names, down to small independents run by families. It’s pretty awesome that we can use our platform to promote small and local Australian distilleries.
What's the best part of working as a gin specialist?
Drinking all the gin of course! Every single gin that goes into any of our boxes I’ve personally tasted, played around with within drinks and recipes, researched and put together all the content. Sounds like hard work, but someone has to do it!
As a new and innovative service, what's something you're excited about working with Gin Loot?
As I said, a lot of the distilleries we work with are small family businesses, a lot of which don’t have a big digital or marketing presence and I love that we are able to do that for them and get their delicious gins into the mouths of thousands of gin lovers across the country.
I’m also working on a couple of projects this year to celebrate diversity within Australian distilling, which I am extremely passionate about. In March we are featuring a box to tie in with International Women’s Day with all-female distillers, in what is a very male-dominated industry. I’m also working on a box for NAIDOC week featuring gins from Indigenous distillers and botanicals farmed by traditional landowners.
There are so many gins now featuring native Australian botanicals but not many people stop to think about how the use of these this impacts the Indigenous community. I’m super excited to be able to use our platform to draw attention to all the amazing things people are doing in the industry.
Do you have a favourite bar or restaurant you've worked in so far?
Asking that is a bit like asking me to pick my favourite child! They all have given me so much and I’ve learnt something different along the way. I would say the most influential places in my career were the Michelin starred restaurants in the UK. Working with some of the most amazing chefs such as Simon Rogan, Jason Atherton and Adam Handling really opened my eyes to what flavour and balance really mean and how I can translate that into drinks. The attention to detail is just on another level, something which you can transpose into all facets of what you do.
What's your favourite memory from working in the UK?
Working in the UK, I had the opportunity to work with some pretty incredible spirits companies, who gave me the opportunity to visit many different distilleries. Not just within England, which has a plethora of gin, but Scotland for whisky, Italy for vermouth and France for liqueurs - plus some sneaky wine side trips as well!
When developing the bar and cocktail menus in your previous roles did you notice any differences in gin preferences between the UK and Aus?
Funnily enough, Australians tend to prefer more traditional dry styles of gin. Juniper forward, dry (no added sugar), yet rich and complex but with something unique about them. The same goes for cocktails in Australia as well, I tend to make them a little drier with less sugar - I think a big part of it comes down to our climate. On a stinking hot day, you don’t really want a sickly sweet cloying drink - you want something dry and refreshing. The UK is currently in the midst of a flavoured gin craze which tends to be a little sweeter and the juniper not so prominent.
WORDS | Brittany Ross
IMAGERY | Gin Loot