Australian distiller Smilov Spirits is expanding for the first time, launching a gin to complement the vodka it launched with in 2021.

Like the original vodka, Smilov’s new Lavender Purple Gin was in development for quite some time by the husband and wife team behind the brand, Mitchell and Mary Smilovitis. It has taken almost a year for the product to be ready to launch, with the time needed to perfect every element of the new product.

“The gin was actually the first idea that we wanted to do. But in the market, there are a lot of gin distillers out there, so gin is a product that is continually evolving,” Mitchell said.

“We went down the vodka path first because we knew that if we could establish and build ourselves with our neutral vodka (which is a very challenging sector), we could do well when releasing a product in a category that is a lot more popular.”

When creating their vodka, Mitchell and Mary reviewed the market to decide where they wanted Smilov Vodka to sit, and then aimed to make it stand apart from competitors in that section. They have done this again with the Smilov Lavender Purple Gin, aiming for a different purple hue to others on the shelf, that keeps the same colour when mixed, with that same purple coming through in the lettering of its striking gold label.

Accomplishing this goal was difficult. Mitchell said it took 41 batches to get the aroma and flavour notes correct, let alone the perfect colour to come out at the very end of the process. The final product is described as a classic dry gin, with juniper and citrus notes highlighting delicate floral minty characters of lavender.

“Getting the right mix was important, because lavender can be very overbearing, particularly if you’ve got all the juniper and other botanicals,” he said.

“From where we started to now is a huge difference, with so many trials to get it to the right point. And because you rarely drink gin on the rocks, it’s always going to be mixed with something, so we did a range of additional tests to refine what it smelled and tasted like when it was mixed.

“It wasn’t until we had the smell and the taste correct that we started experimenting with colour, and that became a lot more complex than I expected too.”

It’s certainly been a learning curve for the Smilov brand, but an overall successful one. A limited first run of the gin was launched earlier this month to online and existing customers to a great response.

“The feedback has been exceptional so far. People love the flavour and the colour, so it’s proved to be a winner so far. That’s what we were trying to do – we’ve got a very good reputation from the vodka, but we wanted to also make our mark on the gin scene,” Mitchell said.

“There’s a lot of competitors in that gin market, and we needed to have something memorable that would distinguish us from being just another clear classic gin. We will do that at a later date, but this will help us make a splash.”

After the initial launch of the Smilov Lavender Purple Gin, Mitchell expects they will start putting it into normal production and wholesale after Mother’s Day.

Until then, they are focused on how to enable the gin to double the size of the Smilov business. This will be a big feat, as Smilov does everything in-house, including distribution.

“We took a gamble going down this path, but I think it’s been our biggest point of difference – any time a business deals with us, they know they’re getting Mary and Mitch… I think sometimes that part has been lost in the liquor industry,” Mitchell said.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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