Never Never has launched the latest gin in its ‘Dark Series’, a beeswax and olive gin produced in collaboration with award-winning Sydney bar, Maybe Sammy.
The spirit is a testament to the friendship between Maybe Sammy Co-Founder Stefano Catino, and Never Never Co-Founders Sean Baxter and Tim Boast.
The gin marks not only a combination of Maybe Sammy’s flair, and Never Never’s distilling skills, but also of two nations: Italy and Australia. This bottling uses beeswax produced by the Ligurian bees of Kangaroo Island in South Australia, the last remaining genetically pure Ligurian bee colony in the world.
Tim Boast, Never Never’s Master Distiller, offered more detail, saying: “That is one of the only remaining colonies in the world down on Kangaroo Island. Because of its isolation, these Ligurian bees have been able to continue to develop since 1885, and haven’t been affected by disease and interbreeding that occurs in Stef’s home country.”
Another Ligurian export is Stefano himself, who was born in the town of Vernazza in the north west Italian region. This spirit, then, encapsulates Stefano’s Italian-Australian identity, and this was something Sean was keen to emphasis when working on the gin, as he explains.
“I think one of the most exciting parts of it was to make it something really personal. There’s so many gins on the market, and we didn’t want to just roll something out that had a very loose association with the Maybe Sammy brand,” Sean told The Shout.
“To be able to connect to [Stefano’s] home, and his heritage in particular, that area was really important – and we discovered how important it was when we talked to him about the bees and saw his response.
“It’s very rare for you to find something that is one of the only examples of it in the world, and then to inject that into a product and make it a big part of the way that the creative is going to be driven,” Sean continued.
“So much of the flavour, the composition and its delivery has been built around the beeswax.”
The gin’s more savoury olive profile is provided by brine from Lloyd Brother’s Olives, located close to the Never Never distillery in the McLaren Vale. Tim explained how this ingredient serves to intensify the flavour of the beeswax.
“The use of brine in our gin is a little bit like salted caramel, so it’s aimed at pumping up those savoury flavours that you find not only in the olive, but it also heightens the aroma and mouthfeel of the honey itself,” Tim said.
Discussing the exact nature of the collaboration, Sean said after Stefano visited the distillery a couple of times, the instructions from Maybe Sammy had been reasonably straightforward.
“Ultimately, he said ‘Seanie, just make it delicious. I’m not a gin maker, I’m a bartender and a host, I know how to make spectacular drinks with it, just make me a spectacular gin’.”
And from what Stefano said, Sean and Tim certainly met these criteria.
“Never Never, it’s definitely one of my personal favourite gins, and I’ve loved the guys since we started our adventure.”
“We opened bars, while they opened a beautiful gin company in the same period, so we kind of grew organically together in the same direction. So for us, it’s an honour to do a gin collaboration with them,” Stefano continued.
“The gin is definitely delicious.”
At the event, six cocktails were on offer: three Maybe Sammy originals, and three ‘Never Never Signatures’. These included two twists on the classic Martini (featuring shallot shrub and manzanilla sherry respectively), a bees knees, and the ‘Lingurian Sting’ – a Maybe Sammy concoction which featured pinenut and butter-washed Cocchi Americano.
For the moment, the gin is a Maybe Sammy exclusive available via the Never Never website, but both Sean and Tim indicated that there was potential for it to scale to further on-premise locations, and into the retail sector.
This story was first published on Bars and Clubs, click here to subscribe to the weekly newsletter.