This Ant No Party, This Ant No Disco, It’s a Green Ant Infused Gin
Unlike Bourbon that has lots of rules like it must be made of at least 51% corn and must be aged in a new oak container, the guidelines around Gin are a bit looser, allowing distillers an opportunity to let their creative juices flow when contemplating their next Gin masterpiece.
Beyond the Botanicals – It’s a Bug’s Life
Gin is a distilled spirit generally made with juniper berries and other natural botanicals such as fruit peels, herbs, or flowers and is bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof.) Now, some enterprising distilleries in South Australia have decided to stick with natural or organic products but to go beyond botanicals. In this case, they’ve turned to bugs, an indigenous little critter from Australia, the Green Ant or Green Tree Ant (Oecophylla Smaragdina.)
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Adding a Little Protein to Your Diet
Eating ants may sound a bit odd in the states but, Green ants are a traditional indigenous food eaten for thousands of years by the Australian Aborigines for their high protein and medicinal benefits.
Adelaide Hills Distillery is making a Green Ant infused gin under contract for newly-formed Something Wild Beverages, a division of native food company Something Wild, which specializes in sustainably sourced indigenous foods such as rabbit, emu, wild boar, kangaroo, wallaby (milder than kangaroo), magpie goose, native herbs and fruits.
Adelaide Hills Distillery founder and head distiller Sacha La Forgia said it took him several months to be persuaded to eat green ants and allow them to be put in his still.
“But once I did it was like an incredible flavor explosion in my mouth of lime and coriander flavors as well as a fresh acidic zing. It was just beautiful and I thought straight away ‘wow, they exist to be in gin,” he said.
A “pinch” of green ants, which are sourced under permit from the Northern Territory, are also put into the bottles in the same way worms are used in tequila to provide the finishing touch.
“That acidic zing doesn’t carry over in the still so we include some ants in every bottle and it just lifts the palate a bit,” La Forgia said.
“By putting them in the bottle, I’m hoping to encourage people to eat one and taste it. When people try one their eyes light up and they get a big smile on their face.”
Other Australian native foods used as botanicals in the gin include finger lime, pepper berry, the native juniper boobialla and leaves from strawberry gum and lemon myrtle trees.
“By using more leaves I was able to use less juniper while still maintaining those same characteristics that you would normally associate with gin,” La Forgia said.
The Australian Green Ant Gin is a 42% ABV and is priced at AU$97.50 for a 700ml bottle.
Applewood Distillery’s Green Ant Gin
Meanwhile, Applewood Distillery’s Green Ant Gin is almost sold out of its limited edition of 300 bottles. The 500ml bottles are also 42 per cent ABV and cost $120 each.
The Green Ant Gin features ants sourced under permit from New South Wales as well as a number of other native botanicals.
Head distiller Brendan Carter said the response to the gin had been “insane” and he expected the 300 bottles to be sold out by the end of the month. He said the main constituent that gave the green ants their distinctive sharp, citrus flavor was formic acid.
“In this particular one we also wanted to emphasize the native citruses, which I think a lot of people are getting their heads around at the moment so there’s finger limes and a little bit of strawberry gum leaf in there too,” Carter said.
“Our limited editions are a complete once off so we’ll do that and move on to something else challenging and uber creative in typical Applewood fashion.”
Something Wild Beverage Co. Australian Green Ant Gin
Applewood Distillery’s Green Ant Gin
What’s Next in the Ginapalooza World?
The Gin world is a fun one to explore. Are you working on a new creation? Let us know your story.
Resource: Cover image courtesy of Daniel ‘Gunumbal’ Motlop, General Manager at Something Wild.