Vegemite is the Ryan Reynolds* of food crossovers - it's in absolutely everything. Over the years, we've been subjected to a sickening legion of umami breakie mash-ups, including Vegemite Icy Poles, Vegemite Four'N Twenty pies, Vegemite Pizza Hut pizzas and even Vegemite Cabury's chocolate.
Now it's found its way into one of Australia's favourite gins. Sort of.
Except you mustn't call it Vegemite, of course. To avoid a furious lawsuit, Archie Rose has dubbed its latest tipple 'ArchieMite Buttered Toast Spirit'. (The 'Mite' could stand for Promite, Marmite, OzEmite or a slew of other yeast-based spreads. But come on. It's clearly Vegemite.)
As the name implies, the gin uses a range of "botanicals" inspired by Australia's favourite breakfast snack, including freshly churned butter, soughdough toast and the spread-that-shall-not-be-named.
It comes in a standard 700ml bottle and has an alcohol volume of 40%. Here's the official product spiel from the Sydney-based distillery's website:
Meet our latest joyful and experimental limited release, ArchieMite Buttered Toast Spirit. Inspired by Australia’s love for umami-rich breakfast spreads we’ve created an unaged spirit like no other featuring freshly churned, uncultured Pepe Saya butter and Sonoma sourdough toast.
This unaged spirit has a big, mitey character at the front followed by biscuity, bready notes. On the palate you’re given a combination of all three elements coming together - buttery, almost warm, crisp-edged toast with that umami-rich, savoury mite flavour.
As a tech journalist, I am required by law to consume my body weight in gin roughly every fortnight or so. I'm therefore reasonably qualified to provide a verdict in this area.
To be honest, the idea of an ultra savoury, Vegemite-inspired gin didn't set my mouth to watering. I tend to prefer citrus notes in my gins, which marries well to the tonics and lemon-based mixers I use. But when Archie Rose offered us a bottle to taste-test, I had to give it a try.
After popping the lid, my apprehension was magnified about a hundred fold. This stuff is pungent. You can really smell the Vegemite (or whatever Archie Rose would prefer us to call it.)
It's exceedingly weird to have that familiar odour waft out of an alcoholic beverage - a bit like if your lover suddenly started wearing your grandma's perfume to bed.
Vegemite. You can't be middling on Australia's favourite spread — you either love the stuff or subsist on pretenders like strawberry jam or Nutella. But is there something we can do to take our Vegemite excursions to the next level, to explore the delicious world beyond the basics of bread, butter and 'mite? You and I both know there is.
Then I actually tasted the stuff. And y'know what? I am now totally down with the whole lover/grandma thing. (I've also downed several standard drinks, which may help to justify some of these analogies.)
Instead of the brackish, umami feel of Vegemite, the flavour profile is dominated by a buttery aftertaste - and it's surprisingly good! It's easily one of the smoothest gins I've tasted. If you prefer your gin neat or straight with ice, ArchieMite Buttered Toast Spirit is definitely worth a try. Archie Rose also has a handful of cocktail suggestions on its website.
I especially like how the flavour lingers on the tongue long after imbibing. It really does taste like you tucked into buttered toast with a scrape of Vegemite.
ArchieMite gin is currently sold out on the Archie Rose website, but you can still buy it from Dan Murphy's for $78.99. That's a great price for one of the finest 'novelty' gins on the market. It'll definitely put a rose in your cheek. (And your nose.)
Our Score: All right, Vegemite! (9/10)
Where to buy it: Dan Murphy's ($78.99)
* Seriously, that dude has played three Marvel/DC comic book characters. (Four, if you count 'Weapon XI' in that crappy Wolverine movie.)