Thanks for joining me for the latest blog here at the Paddock Restaurant and Bar. As you may be aware having dined with us, scoping out our website or following us on social media (hashtag: thanks. Emoji: wink face) we have a clear focus on high quality Australian produce. Our bar is no different with our dynamic range of craft beer, wine and liquor. This time around I want to draw your attention to some of the neutral spirits on the back of our bar. Anything neutral can often be perceived as plain, boring and lacklustre but the spirit we’re about to discuss is quite the opposite. It’s versatile, dynamic and needs to be treated with more respect than it receives. Let’s get stuck into some vodka! “Shots”! Settle down Chef Sarah!
Hippocampus Metropolitan Distillery is located in West Perth WA and is the brainchild of founders and former owners of the Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle WA that was sold to Lion Nathan for $380 million. In case you didn’t pick up what I put down, I’ll say it like this; these guys know how to make awesome booze. Now, they’re creating distinct small batch vodka from domestically sourced quality ingredients in a custom copper still called “Kylie” which made the 15,000 kilometre hike from Germany. “Kylie” is quite flexible though and can be manipulated into many different positions to make different spirits. “Kylie” sounds like my kind of girl.
100% biodynamic soft wheat comes from the Southern Wheatbelt of WA. The wheat is then fermented with filtered water and then distilled twice in “Kylie” the copper pot still. Copper is highly regarded within the distilling community as it removes impurities without affecting the overall character and flavour of the spirit too much. Once distilled only the best segments of the batch are kept to be blended with purified water. The first and last parts of the batch get discarded because as Viper (Tom Skeritt) said in the 80’s classic Top Gun “there are no points for second place” and these sections usual have more impurities. Once hand bottled they receive a unique batch number and are ready to be sent to The Paddock. We’ve currently got the 21st batch (happy birthday). Hippocampus Vodka isn’t filtered like a lot of vodkas on the market. Therefore, it retains maximum character and flavour. With a standard ABV (Alcohol by volume) of 40% it’s smooth and soft with notes of vanilla and fruits. Chef Sarah thinks it’s not as harsh as generic vodka and she could enjoy it over ice. As a dedicated barman I think its delicate and subtle nature would make a great base for mixing in cocktails while letting fresh ingredients becoming the star of the drink.
The second vodka we’re discussing is vastly different from the Hippocampus Vodka. Introducing 666 Pure Tasmanian Vodka from the Pure Distillery Company in Burnie, North West Tasmania. In 2010 (the first year the vodka was produced) it was awarded a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards. This was the first time this accolade had been bestowed upon Australian vodka!
The family at 666 use locally harvested and fermented barley, as opposed to wheat. By using barley to make vodka you get more spice flavours. Furthermore, by purchasing and fermenting they’re own grain they have more control over the end product whereas other producers just buy a high-proof generic neutral spirit that they redistill to create a vodka (some may call this a shortcut or cheating). The fermented wash is then distilled three times to create a purer and smoother spirit. Slow charcoal filtration mellows out the harsh ethanol of the spirit while also aiding in removing impurities. Finally, the spirit is blended with the cleanest and purest rain water in the World from Cape Grim Tasmania. Once it’s bottled we’re left with vodka that has chocolate, pepper, hazelnut and lemon aroma and a similar velvety smooth taste. Chef Sarah said this vodka was harsh to start but mellows out and has a lot of flavour. I agree with Chef Sarah but I’ll add that this is definitely vodka I’d mix with other ingredients and couldn’t drink neat or over ice.
There you have it folks! Two Australian vodkas made with different grains, distillation processes, water and filtration. Hippocampus is definitely a vodka that aficionados will love while 666 is more approachable for the easy-to-please vodka, fresh lime & soda crowd. Both will make create cocktails if you use fresh Australian produce. Either way these amazing neutral spirits have a place in the Paddock’s bar and they’re here to stay! Come on in, bring your friends and try them for yourself. The bar is open every day from 5:30pm. See you then!
Until Next Time