When people taste Mobius Distilling Co’s Moreau Apple Pie Liqueur for the first time, there’s a look that often crosses their faces.
Co-owner Alex Hardie says it’s a moment he and business partner Philip Crossley, never tire of.
“There’s this face that people tend to pull, which we love you know, watching somebody trying it for the first time because we get to see this … kind of surprise and delight on people's faces,” Hardie says.
And it’s obviously not just consumers who feel this way. Moreau has been awarded Best Liqueur for the past two years running at Melbourne Royal’s Australian Distilled Spirits Awards.
It’s validation that means so much to this small distillery based in Sydney’s inner-west.
“It's absolutely phenomenal for us to be recognised,” says Hardie. “It turns out yeah, it's not just us that thinks it's great, it's actually our peers and also very qualified and well-respected judges as well.”
The inspiration to make an apple pie flavoured liqueur came to Crossley when he was first learning about the distilling process. He was working as an IT project manager and brewing beer at home in his shed in his spare time. As his interest in spirits grew, he started making his own still, leveraging the big community of distillers across the world sharing their knowledge in online forums. It was in one of these forums that he first met Hardie, who was working for a brewery at the time, but also learnt about apple pie moonshine. And set about trying to make it himself.
And while the high-alcohol apple pie moonshine didn’t end up being quite to Crossley’s taste, he knew the concept was sound.
“Everyone loves apple pie, so then I went, well how can I get that in a glass?” Crossley says.
“The fun began and I started deconstructing it and reconstructing it. Lowering the ABV [alcohol by volume] and trying around with different flavourings to add and things like that.”
The end result is a four-day process which involves fortifying vodka made in their Marrickville distillery, with apple juice from Bellevue Orchard in Victoria. Crossley and Hardie estimate there’s juice from about a dozen apples in every 700ml bottle. As well as cinnamon, sugar and vanilla, among other things. They’re not about to give away all their secrets! It has an alcohol volume of 21 per cent.
“I cook the juice and stuff again, add the spices and some extra sugar because the apple juice on its own, it’s bit acidic and I just want that sort of luscious mouthfeel, and use the heat to help extract the flavours from the cinnamon,” Crossley says.
As for the vodka used, Crossley says it’s the same spirit used in Mobius Distilling Co’s small batch 38 Special, which was also honoured at the 2021 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, where it was named Champion Vodka.
From the bottle to the glass…or bowl
Taking inspiration from the pie-itself, Hardie says their Apple Pie Liqueur is great drizzled over a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. It can also be drunk neat and used in cocktails.
“We've got a couple of our bartender friends to come up with some modified cocktails and sort of classic cocktails. So there's really probably one that's my favourite, which is based on a Manhattan,” Hardie says.
Crossley has had family use it in tiramisu and also in baklava On a hot day, he suggests filling a tall glass with ice, apple pie liqueur and either soda water or dry ginger ale and a squeeze of lime.
“It's a really refreshing afternoon drink, without being massively boozy,” says Crossley.
“If you do want to boost it a little bit, add a splash of some bourbon or some rum to it, gives it a bit of extra character.”
As for the name, it’s a nod to the well-known book character.
“It's a reference to HG Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, the mad scientist, you know, working, working away and coming up with all sorts of crazy experiments and mixing things together,” says Hardie.
Which is exactly how they hope consumers will approach their liqueur – being creative and trying new combinations until they find how they like to drink it.