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Rob Turner - Animus

Written by Gin Foundry

Ahead of Junipalooza Melbourne, we’ve caught up with a few distillers and owners, to talk all things Gin, Australia and what they’ve been up to. Top of that list, was one quarter of team Animus, Rob Turner, who have recently launched their new Davidsonia Gin, with stocks selling out within days…

For those who don’t know the Animus team, who are you and how many are involved?  

Dr. Aaron Robinson & Dr. Joel Wilson first created the idea of Animus Distillery in 2012. Long-time friends Luke Jacques & I joined the team in 2014 to build on the work Aaron & Joel started, and together the four of us have built our premium spirits business to where we now employ a passionate team of 12 people!

You’ve been friends for a while, but when did you first decide to get together and embark on this gin journey? There’s got to be some element of madness in it all no? 

The ‘founding four’ have been friends for over a decade. We’ve always geeked out on all sorts of premium wine, gin and whisky, and the sheer enjoyment from all of the early research (and tastings!) really motivated us to get serious and launch Animus Distillery, and build a business around our ideas.

There are always many moments in a highlight reel, especially when working with friends, but what has been the most memorable part for you?   

The day we collected the keys to our venue in Kyneton, where we have established our Distillery & Cocktail Lounge. We poured our heart and soul into making it a beautiful and unique venue, for which we are all very proud. It gives all of us great pleasure seeing people enjoy the space as much as we do.

You launched with three gins, but recently added the Davidsonia - what prompted this addition and what’s the reception been like?   

Davidsonia plums are an incredible native Australian fruit, and we were really interested in making a gin in the vein of traditional English Sloe Gin, but with distinctively Australian character. After a long patient wait steeping Davidsonia plums for 18 months in our Macedon Dry gin base, Batch 1 took only 14 days to sell out! Batch 2 coming soon…

Speaking of distinct character, you have quite an unusual line up of botanicals, how long did it take you to hone the recipes?   

We spent 18 months refining our recipes for each of the three core gins to a point which all four of us unanimously agreed they were ready for release. Much of this time was spent researching how each botanical behaves during distillation, and how each can work with the others to create gins of balance, depth and structure. 

Did you always intend to make three different gins or did that come out of the process and a little by stumbling on flavour areas that you then delved further into?  

We approached our initial recipe trials without a clear destination in mind, and as we started to experiment we realised we couldn’t fit all our ideas into one gin. We’re still surprised, given that it all began with four of us, that we didn’t end up with four different gins!  We all still have our different favourites for different occasions.

The scene’s hotting up - what do you think the next 18 months looks like for the Gin category in Australia?  

The quality of Australian craft distilleries and the creativity and diversity of new products is among the best in the world. It’s likely that we’ll see continued growth in new distilleries being established, and hopefully continued and growing interest in Australian gins locally and overseas.

Talking of which, what do you think makes your gin stand out both domestically, but for export markets too? 

Our gin range is broad in its scope; from traditional big & bold flavours of Macedon Dry, the delicate south-east Asian influenced structure of Ambrosian through to the complex savoury native botanical notes of Arboretum Gin. We’ve also put a lot of passion into developing our bottle designs with our creative team, which really stand out on the shelf.

And lastly, what’s the next big milestone you are working towards?  

Having established our venue, the next 18 months will see us expanding our product pipeline with more R&D! We have a number of ideas in development now and we hope some of these will be released to the market in 2019. We’re seeing excellent results in our whisky as this continues to mature, so we’re very excited about that also!