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Never Never Distilling: Making Gin for the Juniper Freaks

Who says Juniper isn’t cool anymore? Never Never Distilling’s triple juniper process brings juniper back to the forefront of gin.

What is Never Never Distilling? 

Never Never Distilling is an award-winning gin distillery from Adelaide, Australia. Conceived over a pint in an Aussie pub, the brand is famous for its juniper-forward style of gins, including its core Triple Juniper Gin, its Southern Strength Gin and its Juniper Freak Gin - Australia’s first vintage gin. Never Never’s gins are made using its unique “triple juniper process”, designed to elevate the bright and earthy qualities of juniper in their final expressions. 

While initially borne in the backyard shed with a lone 300 litre pot and column still called Wendy, the brand has since moved into sweeter digs, with a distillery overlooking the stunning vistas of McLaren Vale (where Wendy continues to distill the juniper spirits to this date). The name Never Never was inspired by the vast expanse of the Australian outback. But it also reflects the distillery’s philosophy of journeying into the unknown. The distillery has now established a habit of releasing bold, experimental releases from time to time, including its Oyster Shell Gin and its Beeswax and Olive Gin.


Never Never’s Origins: Out of the Backyard and On Top of the Hill

The idea for Never Never found its footing over a couple of pints at a pub. It was conceived by three friends Tim Boast, George Georgiadis and Sean Baxter, who each came from different backgrounds - the former two worked in finance while the latter worked in hospitality as a Brand Ambassador for Diageo. While the trio did not have any formal distilling background, but they did have the ambition to create one of the highest quality Australian gins out there. Plus, it also helped that Tim had grown up playing with stills and fermenters in his backyard, having been a descendant of the Gilbey distiller family in Scotland.

Together, the trio pooled some of their savings to purchase a 300 litre pot and column hybrid still - affectionately dubbed Wendy - to distil their first batch of gin. Beginning in December of 2016, their initial trial distillation runs were operated out of a 16 square metres backyard space behind a brewery in Royal Park. R&D took over eight months and 33 recipe iterations, before they finally released their first expression, the Triple Juniper Gin in August 2017. Never Never Distilling quickly followed this up with the launch of the Southern Strength Gin - a rejigged version of the Triple Juniper Gin with more citrus leaning notes, as well as their vintage Juniper Freak gin series, the first vintage gin in Australia that celebrates the annual harvest of juniper berries. 

The early days weren’t easy, and the team had to be scrappy. “Sean used to sell gin out of the back of Tim’s Mitsubishi Magna that he borrowed for 12 months because he couldn’t afford anything else,” George reflects. Still, the trio persisted with their brand building efforts. This included collaborating with local restaurants and brands to create limited edition expressions such as Stockholm Syndrome Aquavit, a Nordic style gin, as well as creating eye-grabbing experiences such as its Juniper Stomp Gin, where they invited guests to stomp juniper with their feet before the berries get distilled.

In 2019, the brand hit a new high when it bagged multiple global gin awards, including the coveted titles of World’s Best London Dry Gin, World’s Best Classic Gin and Australia’s Best Navy Strength. This undoubtedly led to Never Never gaining even more attention, and demand quickly grew to challenge its existing production capacity. “Sean has literally chained me to our still. No joke. Send help,” Tim had quipped during this time. 

This was perhaps a sign for the trio that Never Never Distilling had properly outgrown its initial headquarters. Finally in 2020, the brand opened the doors to its brand new distillery located in hilly McLaren Vale. This wasn’t just by pure coincidence, as the trio had ambitions for Never Never’s final destination to be at this exact spot since their very first days of distilling. In fact, an illustration of the McLaren Vale landscape has been on every Never Never gin bottle label since the brand’s inception. Talk about the powder of manifestation! 

How It’s Made: The Triple Juniper Process

“My favourite gins have this vegetal texture, this richness, the oiliness … they sing from a songbook that was 150 years ago – they’re in every essence classical,” mused Sean Baxter. Such was the flavour profile that Never Never Distilling endeavoured towards, and it’s what has guided much of the way production occurs. 

From the beginning, it was clear to the team that they wanted to build their brand around the core ingredient of juniper. In recent times, there’s been a surge of artisanal gin brands that have popularised the use of different, unique native botanicals, prioritising the flavours and aromas of these botanicals over juniper in the final product. While such brands have seen massive success among consumers seeking a sense of locality in the gins, Never Never sought to go back to the classic London Dry Gin categorisation by bringing juniper back to the forefront of their expressions. “We built a gin brand around the one ingredient producers are using less and less of these days – juniper, not because it’s different, because it’s familiar,” said Tim Boast. 

Never Never uses a unique production process that they dubbed the “triple juniper process”, referring to the three ways in which they incorporate juniper into the final spirits to draw out its punchier flavours and intensify its aromas:

  1. First, fresh juniper is macerated into Australia wheat spirit for over 24 hours. 
  2. Secondly, once macerated, the wheat spirit is transferred into the distillation still where more juniper berries are added to the steeped wheat spirits to be directly distilled. During this process, other botanicals such as coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, cinnamon and Australian pepper berry will also be added.
  3. Thirdly, even more juniper is added to the vapour basket hanging overhead in the still, capturing and infusing the fresh and floral juniper character into the spirit as the steam passes through the basket and condenses back into the spirit. Lemon and lime peels are also added into the vapour basket. 


@neverneverdistillingco Behind the scenes of making the Worlds Best London Dry Gin 😍#neverneverdistillingco #gin #fyp ♬ im obsessed - 𝐻 🇦🇫


Hence, it is this triple combination of maceration, boiling and vapour infusion - dubbed the Triple Juniper Process - that makes Never Never’s Triple Juniper Gin as bright, earthy, piney as it is known to be. The distillery will occasionally tweak the proportions of botanicals to create other offshoot gin expressions like the Southern Strength Gin, or add other ingredients or blends into the Triple Juniper Gin spirit to create other expressions like its Juniper Freak Gins. 

Never Say Never: What to Try from the Distillery

1. Triple Juniper Gin (Read our review here!)

The mainstay classic Triple Juniper Gin is made from Never Never’s triple juniper process, designed to uncover the bright and earthy qualities of juniper. It bagged the Gold Award at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Awards. Apart from juniper, the gin uses eight other botanicals include coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, lime peel, liquorice root, cinnamon, and Australian pepper berry.

| Purchase at Master of Malt (ships internationally) or at Never Never (ships to Australia).

2. Southern Strength Gin 

If you love the core Never Never gin but also prefer something slightly more citrus-leaning, give the Southern Strength Gin a try. Initially released as an experimental launch, this expression quickly made its way into the brand’s core bottle line-up due to its popularity. To make it, the team tweaked the proportions of the same botanicals used in the Triple Juniper Gin, elevating the influence of lemon peel, coriander seeds and Angelica roots to create a more luxurious mouthfeel. It’s also a higher ABV gin, at 52% ABV. 

| Purchase at Master of Malt (ships internationally) or at Never Never (ships to Australia).

3. Juniper Freak Gin 

If you can never never get enough of juniper, this expression is for you. The Juniper Freak Gin is Australia’s first vintage gin release, celebrating the annual juniper berry harvest. Vintage here in this context refers to the year in which the juniper berries used in the bottle were harvested. This expression doesn’t hold back on the earthy oiliness of the juniper flavour. It takes the distillate from the core Triple Juniper Gin, and even adds a blend of juniper distillate made from Macedonian juniper. The name was fair warning. 

| Purchase at Master of Malt (ships internationally) or at Never Never (ships to Australia).

4. Grenache Gin

Inspired by the richness of wine culture in McLaren Vale, the Premium Grenache Gin is a limited edition 2023 release. The expression takes freshly crushed grenache grapes grown in McLaren Vale and steeps it into their Triple Juniper Gin distillate. These grapes are then left on the skin for up to a month to develop its rich flavour and colour before being pressed, filtered and bottled. Expect flavours of candied raspberries to dark plum and cinnamon. Great for those seeking more flavour and fruitiness in their gin.

| Purchase at Never Never (ships to Australia).

5. Oyster Shell Gin 

The Oyster Shell Gin is a hugely popular expression co-developed with the Society Restaurant in Melbourne, and is a gin designed to replicate the flavours of the Australian coastline. To make this gin, the distillery used Kangaroo Island oyster shell, waxflower, Tasmania wakame, coastal daisy bush, saltbush and round mint as botanicals to distil a savoury gin with a balanced amount of salinity. Perfect for pairings with seafood! 

| Purchase at Never Never (ships to Australia).