Little Lon Distilling Co.: Chicago Cell Block Tango Gin – Product Review

In my five plus years of writing reviews for LILITHIA REVIEWS, never did I think I would find myself writing one for a bottle of gin! You might be thinking, how does an alcoholic beverage fit in with what we cover? Well, I am glad you asked!

To coincide with the return of Chicago the Musical to Melbourne, Little Lon Distilling Co. has developed a small batch, Limited Edition gin, with a Chicago twist! Called, ‘Cell Block Tango’ this gin is unlike anything I have ever tasted before, and it might just convert me into a gin connoisseur!

First, a little history about Little Lon Distilling Co.; nestled between Little Lonsdale and Lonsdale Streets, behind the Casseldon Place Building, is an old 19th Century Brick Cottage. The once ‘notorious’ northeast corner of Melbourne’s CBD was actually part of the old Red-Light District. With over 145 years of chequered and colourful history, the cottage is the last remaining brick building of its kind within the confines of the CBD. With a micro-distillery setup within the cottage itself, Little Lon Distilling Co. is quite literally the Spirit of Melbourne.

So, how does a unique distillery connect with the longest running active Broadway show in history? Well, Little Lon was approached by the Melbourne production to develop a unique blend that pays tribute to the famous musical. Not only has it been distilled in the former Red-Light District, but it has also been “Jail cell rested” within Cell #13 of the Old Melbourne Gaol, or as Venue Manager Lynden Barnes describes, “absorbing all the great spirits within”.

Developed by Tara, the gin is fresh, flavourful, and spicy. “Opening with a fresh native mint bouquet that leads into a juniper-forward warmth with hints of rosemary, kaffir lime & lemon eucalyptus. Finishing with a tantalising subtle spice from red Szechuan peppers & white peppercorn.”

My only experiences with gin have been a classic martini or a simple gin and tonic. But after tasting ‘Cell Block Tango’, I have discovered a whole new world of gin. I never even contemplated that a clear spirit could pack such a punch in the flavour department. It is clean and fresh the moment it hits the palate but leaves a spicy aftertaste that is reminiscent of a spiced rum. I could quite easily drink this gin neat; it’s that good! But it has also been developed with cocktails in mind and would go perfect with a martini. The best of both worlds!

There are so many subtle and not so subtle ties back to the narrative of Chicago. From the blatantly obvious use of the Old Melbourne Gaol to the subtle hints of spice leaning into the spicy nature of the production, ‘Cell Block Tango’ is the perfect partnership with this iconic musical.

With this small batch being a limited release, only available whilst Chicago is in town at Her Majestys Theatre for its Melbourne season until June 2nd. Little Lon Distilling Co.’s ‘Cell Block Tango’ is available on site at their distillery at 17 Casseldon Place in Melbourne’s CBD, or you can purchase it online and have it delivered right to your door! Whatever you do, don’t miss out!

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