Distiller Paul shows spirit

LOCAL FLAVOURS SHINE: Tumbulgum's Paul Messenger has created Australia's first colour-changing gin.
LOCAL FLAVOURS SHINE: Tumbulgum's Paul Messenger has created Australia's first colour-changing gin. Blainey Woodham

A TUMBULGUM mineral geologist-turned home distiller has created Australia's first organic, colour-changing gin.

Paul Messenger from Husk Distillery on the Tweed River will launch his unique dry gin in exclusive Byron Bay, Brisbane and Sydney bars this month.

Ink Gin has the traditional flavours of juniper berries, with locally grown lemon myrtle, Tasmanian pepper berries and fresh organic Valencia oranges.

Its crisp finish has undertones of cinnamon, coriander, liquorice, angelica, oris root, elderflower, lemon peel and exotic bois bande.

"I extracted the essence of each individual botanical using a Bunsen burner and flask, extracting it through alcohol, and a condenser," Mr Messenger said.

"There wasn't any science in this part of it; it was really what tasted and smelt really nice, and we came up with the final recipe."

Ink Gin is handmade and pot-distilled in small batches of 110 individually numbered bottles and will retail for $79 a bottle.

The new drop took three years to develop and has an internationally patented technology.

When neat, Ink Gin's pH sensitive butterfly pea flowers, sourced from India, make the infusion deep blue. Add tonic water though, and it changes to pink.

"Because of Ink's unusual appearance and curious properties, we've kept it under wraps during development," Mr Messenger said.

Ink Gin will feature at the Top Shelf Boutique Drinks Festival in Melbourne on August 8-9.

Later this year the distiller will launch a premium Agricole rum from freshly-cut local sugar cane juice, aged in heavily-charred American oak barrels.

The 'paddock to bottle' spirit is double distilled for extra flavour and was inspired by a 2009 trip to the vibrant rum culture of the Caribbean.

"I was particularly interested in the aged sipping-rums," Mr Messenger said.

"I thought we've got a fairly one dimensional rum culture, so there was an opportunity. I came back and learnt how to make rum from cane juice."

A cane plantation was set-up in 2012. In 2013, six tonnes of cane from Mr Messenger's next door neighbour were used. In 2014, 55 tonnes of cane was cut by hand for rum production.

"We've got our trademark registered in all the major markets around the world," Mr Messenger said.

"Ultimately we'll be looking at export."

You can find Ink Gin on Facebook at

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