Queen vodka, King of fruit


The Canberra Distillery is a founding member of the spirits revolution of the last few years. Led by Tim Reardon, the business has a steady following in the region, and a steady approach to growth, with new products a regular feature of their stalls the Handmade Market. The Christmas Market is no exception, as on December 7, 8 & 9, there will be another new product launch. Introducing Durian Vodka. Yes, you read that right, durian – the smelly fruit of Asian origin that people either love or hate.

Le Trac, one of Tim’s distillers, is confident that this new addition to the Queen V range will “divide the nation” and is looking forward to the challenge of persuading people to try and love this original flavour! She is grateful for Tim’s indulgence in this project, which she has driven since the beginning, especially as durian isn’t his favourite fruit! But he has supported her passion for this flavour, even though it wasn’t an easy process. “It was hard as we experimented first with durian gin, but the fresh fruit didn’t work as it goes off quickly,” explains Le. “We played with using essence of durian instead, and with a vodka base, it now works.” This unique flavour is best drunk neat, but Le believes that the custardy flavour of the fruit works perfectly as a Moscow Mule with ginger beer, or with limoncello and coconut cream for a truly Asian inspired cocktail.

As with all of The Canberra Distillery’s spirits, the raw ingredients are sourced from the local region for this vodka, with the neutral spirits derived from Murrumbateman shiraz. Where vodka is directly infused with flavours, the gins are infused using a column still, with various layers of botanicals, including traditional junipers, coriander, liquorice, citrus peel, cinnamon and native plants such as wattle seed and lemon myrtle. The Canberra Distillery definitely knows how to have fun with flavours, already using musk, toffee, tea and lavender to infuse their spirits. They’re even experimenting with rice wine, bringing more of Le’s cultural flavours to Canberra.

Le thinks Canberra is the perfect place to launch unique flavours. “It’s such a great place. Canberrans are not afraid to innovate and they’re so supportive of each other, which gives us a licence to experiment. It’s OK if it fails, but at least we tried and shared our passions and people understand that.” Before becoming a distiller, Le worked for the business in sales and has spent many weekends at the Handmade Market. “The best thing about Handmade is meeting the locals, bantering with them and learning from them. We learn so much from both the customers and the other stallholders who are like a little family.”

Come and taste The Queen V Durian Vodka at the Handmade Market on 7, 8 & 9 December.