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Animus Distillery

Flavour-packed Gins From a Kilmore-based Distillery and Garden

Animus was founded in 2015 by a group of Whisky lovers (Luke Jacques, Joel Wilson, Rob Turner and Aaron Robinson), who decided to produce Gin while waiting for their Whisky to mature in barrel. This Kyneton-based distillery initially began working out of a Fitzroy North garage. Thanks to the quality of their early Gin releases, the operation quickly outgrew this space and has now relocated to a bespoke distillery and cellar door in Kyneton.

 The key indicators of quality here include the unique freshness of the botanicals used, the pure, carbon-filtered grain spirit, the 100% vapour-pressed distillation and the overproof bottling at 50% ABV. This is where these distillers find their Gins really hit the sweet spot, showing lifted perfume, pristine flavours, creamy texture and integrated spirit. And this is absolutely what you get in the glass.

It’s hard to appreciate the scale of this artisan Kyneton distiller until you visit the premises. Until very recently, this was a distillery like no other: there seemed hardly room to swing a cat, let alone craft the complex Gins that are the specialty of this house. So, the move to a new purpose-designed site has not come a moment too soon. In what is a refinement of progress rather than simple expansion this sees the previous Piper Street distillery/bar site take on the sole responsibility of cocktail bar, while the new shed just around the corner has room for (amongst other things) a shiny new still.

 Not only does the space allow the now-full-time distilling duo of Luke Jacques and Sarah Wallace to progress their vapour-pressed Gin distilling work (remember, Animus’ botanical baskets are refreshed every two hours), but they are now also free to get their Whisky programme up and running. Then there is a new space for barrel storage (for their barrel-aged Gin, and later for Whisky), and the troops have set about re-establishing their botanical gardens in greenhouses across Sarah, Luke and Rob’s own homes. Despite these changes, Animus proudly remains a boutique operation. All the production is strictly small-batch and crafted with an obsessive, hands-on approach that is more than rare in the industry. The scale allows Animus to subtly moderate their methods with the flux of seasons and the botanicals they provide, meaning the Gins can still be appreciated for both their parallels in quality and differences in nuance—expression and evolution that shows in every drop.

While much has changed (the expansion of digs and semi-retirement of the original tiny 50-litre still in favour of a larger, state-of-the-art model), some things have not changed at all. The last time we visited Kyneton, Luke Jacques greeted us with hands ochre-stained from peeling a small mountain of fresh turmeric for his three core Gins, while Wallace danced in carrying a sack of lemon myrtle freshly picked from the distillery garden. When we talk of the core elements that make these Gins so singular, it’s still the unique quality and freshness of the botanicals that take precedence: growing and sourcing the finest ingredients remains an obsession at Animus. Then there’s the precise and potentially crazy 100% vapour-pressed distillation, where uniquely, the botanical basket is recharged multiple times during the run to capture as much intensity and fresh-picked flavour as possible.

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Animus Distillery Macedon Dry Gin
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Animus Distillery Macedon Dry Gin

Originally designed as a homage to the best London Dry Gins, Animus’s Macedon Dry took on a life of its own when lemon myrtle and mountain pepperberry were added to the rich, juniper-led base. These Australian natives add a subtle, citrus and piquant edge, while dialling up the aromatic complexity. You don't have to look hard to find the freshness provided by the ingredients harvested from the distillery’s Gin garden. These botanicals also add brightness and intensity. We love the classic juniper, sappy freshness and spice running through the smooth, deep texture. The cream always rises to the top and this has the depth, complexity and balance of an Australian classic.Botanicals: juniper, mountain pepperberry, cardamom, angelica root, cinnamon, clove, coriander seed, lemon myrtle, sarsaparilla root, star anise, lemon, lime, turmeric, rosemary

Originally designed as a homage to the best London Dry Gins, Animus’s Macedon Dry took on a life of its own when lemon myrtle and mountain pepperberry were added to the rich, juniper-led base. These Australian natives add a subtle, citrus and piquant edge, while dialling up the aromatic complexity. You don't have to look hard to find the freshness provided by the ingredients harvested from the distillery’s Gin garden. These botanicals also add brightness and intensity. We love the classic juniper, sappy freshness and spice running through the smooth, deep texture. The cream always rises to the top and this has the depth, complexity and balance of an Australian classic.

Animus Distillery Macedon Dry Gin
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Animus Distillery Ambrosian Gin
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Animus Distillery Ambrosian Gin

There is genius here. This is Animus’s ode to Australia’s love affair with South East Asian flavours. It's a zesty, spicy, Gin that has an effortless, almost fluffy texture across the palate. There are bright, tangy notes thanks to fresh mandarin, lime and young kaffir lime leaf. The punchy, fresh ginger and galangal bring rooty intensity and earthy, spicy notes, while the inclusion of white sesame seeds adds to the body and leaves a nutty hint on the finish. What could have been a chaotic roar of flavours is in fact a beautifully pure, perfectly integrated, uncluttered Gin with everything in delightful proportion. We've not tasted anything like it to be honest. Really special.Botanicals: juniper, cardamom, angelica root, clove, coriander seed, mandarin, white sesame seed, galangal, ginger, lemon, makrut lime leaf, lime, turmeric, lemon myrtle, star anise.

There is genius here. This is Animus’s ode to Australia’s love affair with South East Asian flavours. It's a zesty, spicy, Gin that has an effortless, almost fluffy texture across the palate. There are bright, tangy notes thanks to fresh mandarin, lime and young kaffir lime leaf. The punchy, fresh ginger and galangal bring rooty intensity and earthy, spicy notes, while the inclusion of white sesame seeds adds to the body and leaves a nutty hint on the finish. What could have been a chaotic roar of flavours is in fact a beautifully pure, perfectly integrated, uncluttered Gin with everything in delightful proportion. We've not tasted anything like it to be honest. Really special.

Animus Distillery Ambrosian Gin
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Animus Distillery Barrel Aged Gin 2022 (500ml)
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Animus Distillery Barrel Aged Gin 2022 (500ml)

We’ve been enthusiastically following Animus’s barrel-aged spirit program since its early days, and this year they have taken proceedings to another level. The 2022 Barrel Aged Gin started out as a variation on the citrus-based Animus Macedon Dry, added to three freshly disgorged Moscato Giallo barriques from the nearby Musk Lane Winery. The choice of oak this year has turned out to be a masterstroke, with these white wine seasoned barrels providing subtle integration, balance and support, rather than dominating the Gin.This year, despite the colour you see in the bottle, the maturation lasted only 12 months, after which the Gin was deemed ready for blending, dilution (to 55.1% ABV) and bottling by hand. No sugar or colour additions were made. It’s a classy, complex and bold sprit, and, fortunately, there is a little more to go around this year.Straight up, you’ve got layers of apricot, marmalade, cocoa butter and coconut giving way to mouth-filling pear and pineapple notes, burned sugar and then heat and spice wrapped around a robust structure. When diluted with water or ice, chocolate-orange, herbs and vanilla come to the fore, serving to broaden and soften the complexity of the flavour. There’s so much going on here, yet the Gin’s balance and harmony is certain to stimulate a bartender’s creative juices—an example of the versatility on offer here is Animus’s Flor de Roble Gin made with Fino Sherry, Falernum, lime juice, bitters and coffee beans.

Straight up, you’ve got layers of apricot, marmalade, cocoa butter and coconut giving way to mouth-filling pear and pineapple notes, burned sugar and then heat and spice wrapped around a robust structure. When diluted with water or ice, chocolate-orange, herbs and vanilla come to the fore, serving to broaden and soften the complexity of the flavour. There’s so much going on here, yet the Gin’s balance and harmony is certain to stimulate a bartender’s creative juices—an example of the versatility on offer here is Animus’s Flor de Roble Gin made with Fino Sherry, Falernum, lime juice, bitters and coffee beans.

Animus Distillery Barrel Aged Gin 2022 (500ml)
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Animus Distillery Arboretum Gin
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Animus Distillery Arboretum Gin

Arboretum takes savoury to a new level. This complex and herbaceous Gin does exactly what it says on the bottle, hitting the drinker with a wonderful array of sappy, resinous and spicy notes that derive from a range of distillery garden grown Australian ingredients, as well as some classic Gin botanicals. Fresh strawberry gum leaf is used for its delicate floral and menthol hints. There’s native bush tomato with its distinctive tamarillo notes. Rosemary and bay leaf build on the herbaceous depth, while orange (both zest and flesh) is included to round out the palate. Underneath it all, notes of bold juniper, coriander seed and citrus remind you you’re drinking a Gin after all, and an incredibly bold and precise one at that. There’s enough silky texture and flavour going on here for you to sip this on its own; alternatively it's going to serve as a brilliant canvas for knowing bartenders.Botanicals: juniper, capsicum, cardamom, angelica root, bay leaf, bush tomato, clove, coriander seed, sarsaparilla, lemon thyme, mountain pepperberry, star anise, lemon, orange, strawberry gum leaf, rosemary, turmeric, lemon myrtle. 

Arboretum takes savoury to a new level. This complex and herbaceous Gin does exactly what it says on the bottle, hitting the drinker with a wonderful array of sappy, resinous and spicy notes that derive from a range of distillery garden grown Australian ingredients, as well as some classic Gin botanicals. Fresh strawberry gum leaf is used for its delicate floral and menthol hints. There’s native bush tomato with its distinctive tamarillo notes. Rosemary and bay leaf build on the herbaceous depth, while orange (both zest and flesh) is included to round out the palate. Underneath it all, notes of bold juniper, coriander seed and citrus remind you you’re drinking a Gin after all, and an incredibly bold and precise one at that. There’s enough silky texture and flavour going on here for you to sip this on its own; alternatively it's going to serve as a brilliant canvas for knowing bartenders.

Animus Distillery Arboretum Gin
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Animus Distillery Elements Grapefruit Triple Sec
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Animus Distillery Elements Grapefruit Triple Sec

When friends at Curly Flat Wines in Macedon came to them with a surplus of freshly picked grapefruit, Animus seized the crop with both hands, resulting in the inaugural batch of Elements Grapefruit Triple Sec. Grapefruits are painstakingly peeled by hand—taking care to avoid any pith inclusion—and the peelings are steeped overnight in high-proof, wheat-based ethanol that has been triple-filtered with charcoal to ensure a clean and neutral base for the fruit to take centre stage. In the morning, the peels are removed from the spirit and added to a basket with the grapefruit flesh, then the basket is added back to the spirit for vapour infusion. Importantly, half of the flesh retains its pith to ensure vapour doesn’t infiltrate all the flesh too quickly. It’s then diluted back to 30% with water and house-made sugar syrup. It's a full, rich and intensely flavoured Triple Sec, with pithy and fleshy grapefruit flavours and textures throughout. There’s lovely candied peel complexity and a nicely balanced grapefruity close.

It's a full, rich and intensely flavoured Triple Sec, with pithy and fleshy grapefruit flavours and textures throughout. There’s lovely candied peel complexity and a nicely balanced grapefruity close.

Animus Distillery Elements Grapefruit Triple Sec
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Animus Distillery Elements Spiced Mandarin-Cello
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Animus Distillery Elements Spiced Mandarin-Cello

Animus’s Ambrosian Gin forms the base for the Elements Mandarin-Cello and provides a zesty and spicy foundation for this liqueur's potent mandarin fruit. The mandarins are predominantly sourced from Mildura, with the variety used changing depending on what’s available and what’s good. Peeled carefully by hand to avoid pith, the peels are soaked in the Ambrosian Gin for between 24 and 36 hours and then removed. The flesh is juiced (not by hand, they have a juicer!) and added to the vat before dilution with water and house-made sugar syrup to 30%. Loaded with fresh and pure mandarin flavour with citrus, spice and zest notes from the Ambrosian base, this is lifted and perfumed with lovely balance and intensity of flavour. It’s luscious, with a rounded, mandarin-drenched close.

Loaded with fresh and pure mandarin flavour with citrus, spice and zest notes from the Ambrosian base, this is lifted and perfumed with lovely balance and intensity of flavour. It’s luscious, with a rounded, mandarin-drenched close.

Animus Distillery Elements Spiced Mandarin-Cello
Bibendum Bar
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Country

Australia

Primary Region

Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Availability

National

More Information

Modello 34 recipe

More Information

Ambrosian Julep recipe

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