16 June 2022

Five minutes with Jake Eaglesham, Riverina Gin

| Anna Maskus
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Tess and Jake Eaglesham from Wagga in a hilly landscape

Jake moved to the Riverina from the Scottish Highlands to play rugby but got to know and love the region (and Tess of course!) and has made Wagga his home. Photo: Rachel Lenehan, Country Style.

Who is Jake Eaglesham: Half of Riverina Gin, alongside my wife Tess. Owner, co-founder, director, whatever you want to call it. All of the above.

Best recent dining experience: The Tuesday Pasta Club by Pastorale. It was on a Tuesday after we had a big Riverina Gin Club shindig, a massively long day. It was really, ridiculously good. Just perfect.

Favourite cuisine: Haggis. Okay – that was a Scottish joke, although I actually really like it. I’m big on Italian food, pastas and pizzas. Fortunately I don’t eat them as much as I’d like to because I’d weigh a hundred kilos.

Most embarrassing pantry item: A bottle of Gordon’s London Dry. Purely for experimental purposes.

What ingredient can I not live without: Chilli for me, garlic for Tess. We got a really nice bottle of chilli sauce from a friend recently, I can’t remember where it was from, but I said ‘order me six more bottles’.

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Best coffee spot in Wagga: That’s so hard! I love Meccanico, Trail Street, Mr. Lawrence, but I try to share the love around to different ones. I have been buying the new Full Circle Coffee Roasters drip bags, so I have my own personal coffee shop at the distillery now.

Next big thing in the Wagga drinks scene: Riverina Gin x Borambola Wines collaboration out at their winery. Can I say that? It will be a great addition to the already brilliant and growing Wagga drinks scene, although that is a very biased answer.

A must-try from Riverina Gin: We’ve only got the one gin and I’m about to recommend a gin and tonic. I know sounds it sounds so boring, but we’ve really built a religion around it. Riverina Gin and our favourite tonic – Fever Tree Mediterranean – with fresh organic oranges that we get from Piccolo Farms.

My biggest culinary influence: Has to be Luke Piccolo from Griffith. He runs Limone Dining, and his knowledge and what he does with his local produce is so incredible.

Riverina Gin being labelled

Every bottle of Riverina Gin is made, bottled, labelled, written on and wrapped by hand. Each time you pick up a bottle of Riverina Gin you’ll be able to find the individual batch number and bottle number, handwritten by Jake. Photo: Riverina Gin.

Favourite cookbook: Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals. That came around when I was at university. Tess always has Ottolenghi’s Simple open on the kitchen bench.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene: DJ Pieroway. She’s originally from Newfoundland, Canada and she was crucial in helping us decide on the final recipe of our current gin. She does a lot of tastings for us. In my opinion she is one of the most knowledgeable people in the Wagga drinks scene.

Death row meal: This is very Scottish – bacon, egg, Tattie scone and black pudding – all in a roll. And a gin and tonic.

My least favourite food: I hate rocket and raw celery. It may as well be water. Tess eats raw celery with peanut butter, but I think it’s a waste of good peanut butter.

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My COVID-19 response: We actually started with COVID – in January 2020. The business had always been a bit of a pipe dream for us. We were spending lots of time at home, not just due to lockdowns, but also with our new baby Rosie. We were fortunate enough that we actually started Riverina Gin online because of that and right at that point what felt like every single Australian started ordering their booze online. We had a good start, but that was a very lucky business decision, not a COVID reaction.

My top three gin tips: 1. Good mixers and good tonic make a huge difference. Don’t use Schweppes – not because it’s bad, but because it doesn’t pair well with our gin! 2. Have fun and experiment, there’s a reason why gin is one of the most versatile spirits in the world. 3. I really should say enjoy responsibly.

Grab your own bottle of Riverina Gin from Jake and Tess or join the Riverina Gin Club here. Riverina Gin’s cellar door is currently located at Borambola Wines, 1734 Sturt Highway, Borambola.

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