The story of sly grog merchant Polly O'Shea is being told through a craft new gin collaboration between Sovereign Hill and Ballarat distillery Kilderkin.
The new gin, called Sly Grog, has been produced in an effort to help Sovereign Hill raise money to go towards the delivery of its master plan and new entrance precinct.
In partnership with Kilderkin, the gin includes botanicals from the organic garden at Sovereign Hill, selected by gardens and landscape manager Cherrie Neale including juniper, banksia and rosemary, along with coriander seed, pepper leaf, orange peel and desert lime.
The story of Polly O'Shea is an amalgamation of some of the brave, innovative and rebellious women of the goldfields. An Irish immigrant and miner's widow, Polly turned to sly grog in order to provide for her family, using her coffee tent as a cover for a gin still.
Ms Neale said Polly's story, and the story of Ballarat's goldfields, was told through the use of juniper, banksia and rosemary.
"When I think of botanics, it's not just smell and scent and taste, it's about representing culture and history and that's what we do here," she said.
"I chose the banksia to represent the Aboriginal culture and heritage of 60,000 years, and then I chose the Juniper berry which represents our Chinese people that were here at the time as well... and then the rosemary I chose for the European settlement.
"The banksia was also used as a water sieve and a nectar sweetener for water. The Aboriginal people used that for centuries, so when I was thinking about the botanicals, I knew the amount of nectar in the banksia is just phenomenally beautiful and it just fit for me."
"The artisans at Kilderkin, they are just exquisite and they've taken those basic three ideas that I've got and then decided which ones are going to feature and which flavours are going to sit in the background and it's just been a really lovely process."
Just 3000 bottles of Sly Grog have been produced, making for a very limited run of the Ballarat collaboration.
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Sovereign Hill chief executive Sara Quon said the idea for the gin was borne from wanting to collaborate with more local producers.
"We reached out to Kilderkin and talked to them about whether a collaboration around producing a modern version of sly grog would be something that we could do together. For us, that seemed like something to put our energy into in terms of a creative fundraising venture," she said.
"It's a boutique run, just a small volume, but reaching out to someone in the community who's great at what they do and who was passionate about our storytelling as well, was kind of the genesis of the idea."
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