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A spirit for every season

One of the things that makes Australia’s spirits industry so extraordinary, is the multitude of incredible and unique local ingredients that distillers have access to here. 

Sustainably supporting the industry for such local ingredients was one of the big drivers behind a brand that is picking up speed this year – Seven Seasons. Founded by former AFL player Daniel Motlop, the brand uses indigenous Australian ingredients to create what it calls ‘the world’s oldest new flavours.’

Motlop, whose family is behind indigenous ingredient wholesaler Something Wild, said one of the biggest drivers behind the first Seven Seasons project was to generate and fulfil demand for such ingredients. This project is one that many in the bar industry will be familiar with – the Green Ant Gin, launched in 2017 in collaboration with Adelaide Hills Distillery. 

From the start of this idea, Motlop said: “It was for the commercial supply of native ingredients – we really wanted to make it commercial. 

“We didn’t want just one or two kilos in the whole distilling process, we wanted to really make sure we used a lot of native ingredients so that we could buy a lot and commit to stuff from Aboriginal communities.”

In 2020, Seven Seasons was acquired by Mighty Craft, which has enabled wider distribution around Australia, to make Seven Seasons one of Mighty Craft’s fastest growing brands. And now in 2021, the brand has already released two new products in the range, with a Bush Apple Gin launching in April and a Native Yam Vodka making a debut this month (which is marks the first time native yams have been distilled into alcohol). 

All three of the products align with the brand’s namesake that recognises how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use nature as their clock. For the Larrakia people in the Top End, there are seven seasons, each marked by changes in the weather, plants, animals and other natural cycles. 

“The Seven Seasons branding has a whole story and it will be told over the next couple of years with what we’re doing and how it aligns with every season,” Motlop said. 

“Basically when we harvest a certain native ingredient out of the Larrakia area, it’ll align with and represent those seasons, to be told as a story in bars and pubs so that people understand a little bit more of the culture. It’s a premium spirit so it’s also nice to drink, but the greatest thing about this is that it tells a story about culture in a great way.”

Native yams

Creating the products in the Seven Seasons range and heroing native ingredients in such a way has been especially important to Motlop, a proud Larrakia man himself. 

“As a business I really wanted to showcase what we actually have here. Growing up we spent our time going out and eating this stuff off trees that grew all over Darwin. We knew certain areas where things grow, and were taught by our grandfather and grandmother where things were. There were times when you didn’t have lunch, walking the streets on school holidays, and we were eating things like tamarind mango, bush apples, Kakadu plums, just as a snack walking past trees. 

“To incorporate it and teach a little bit of our culture in a real contemporary way [is great]. I love the fact we can sit in a bar and talk to 10 or 20 bartenders and they’ll be intrigued by the story and the seven seasons, more so than how great the spirit tastes.”

All of the ingredients that go into the Seven Seasons spirits are wild harvested, through a program run by Motlop’s brother that sets up small businesses in local communities for Aboriginal people to harvest and pick all the native ingredients during the right season. 

In terms of what flavours the Seven Seasons products offer, its a wide range. The Green Ant Gin is known for its fresh lime and coriander flavours, while the Bush Apple Gin balances juniper, berries, orange blossoms and jammy notes, and the Native Yam Vodka is characterised by earthy, creamy, nutty flavours. 

“The Green Ant Gin is great in a gin and tonic, then I like a Bush Apple Gin sour, and with the Native Yam Vodka, bartenders are doing some great things. I’d like to see it in an espresso martini too,” Motlop said.

To find out more information on the seasons behind Seven Seasons, check out the video below.

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