ryhat did you do before setting up That Spirited Lot?
Before That Spirited Lot, I managed an IT company in Melbourne for 15 years, going through the ranks from Engineer to General Manager. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do in business during those years. I always knew though that I eventually wanted to start my own business and I especially wanted to work on a project with my family. I’ve always had an interest in artisan produce and love spending time in distilleries, wineries and breweries, and now have been lucky enough to turn my weekend interests into my career!
What made you decide to create your distillery and gins?
I grew up exploring the Mornington Peninsula (Victoria, Australia) and was a really active kid. I was always off riding my BMX or out sailing in the bay with my brother. When you’re burning so much energy everyday you learn which neighbours have the best fruit to pinch for a quick snack! We lived in a pretty multicultural community so we were always able to forage all sorts of amazing fruits and vegetables that were simply not accessible in the shops. My love of food and flavours started there. My parents also took my brother and I travelling regularly when we were young which fuelled our adventurous spirits. Even now we love to travel somewhere culturally rich every year, exploring down that alleyway, visiting busy local markets and sampling new flavours and foods. Distillation is an obvious choice when it comes to blending our passion for flavour with our lifestyle, hence That Spirited Lot was born.
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
Our distillery has been literally built by our own hands with most things being repurposed from materials we have found or have ripped out of the original building - think panels of timber, with the contrast of our copper stills and lots of stainless steel. We aimed to create a space that is honest and approachable to everyone whether you are familiar with distilling or not. With a collection of comfy couches & leafy pot plants, people describe it as a little oasis in an otherwise harsh concrete industrial zone.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process?
We choose to do things the ‘hard way’, or the ‘fun way’, it depends how you look at it. We are lucky that we are close to the Mornington Peninsula & Yarra Valley which are well established wine regions, and so we have access to lots of wine to produce the base spirit for our gin. First we pot distil wine into a brandy spirit and then we turn it into a neutral spirit. Our main still ‘Doris’ is named after our late grandmother and is fitted with a 6-chamber crystal column which allows us to create a very soft and clean neutral spirit.
We are known for producing single shot, pot distilled gins with big flavour and oily texture. Gin production generally begins with a 24 hour maceration of our core botanicals and then the next day we load the baskets and get things hot for distilling. We run things low and slow to extract the most flavour and we cut everything by taste to allow us to get the most from the seasonal botanicals we select.
What can people expect and experience if they visit the distillery?
A real ‘meet the maker’ experience with a chilled-out vibe. Expect to learn a lot about the distillation process, methods and ethics. You will taste all our major releases and we always have a few little surprises for people who are keen to taste some experimental things. We also have a coffee shop and homemade soda syrups too should you wish to have something not so boozy.
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
There are a host of challenges in starting a distillery in Australia, the main one being our heavy tax burden. We run a pretty tight ship, however the excise rates don’t allow a lot of wriggle room for mistakes. Small steps seem to be what it’s all about down here in Oz.
What have been the biggest achievements so far?
On the achievement front, I guess our biggest one has been opening our first hand-labelled bottle of Ninch Dry (which we had only bottled 5 minutes earlier) and having our first sip together as a team. I will admit to being a little misty eyed during that milestone. Since then we high-five every time we stock another store or bar and we feel an immense sense of pride when someone tastes our products, enjoys it and of course purchases a bottle. In a similar vein, its always a buzz to see our products on menus, and its especially cool when you’re standing at a bar and someone orders a gin and asks for your product by name (that never gets old!).
How would you describe your gin/s in 3 words?
Silky | Bold | Aromatic
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
Neat is always my first preference for ours and anyone else’s spirits. If I was to mix it up, I do love a simple G & T or a cheeky Tom Collins.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
I think you always need a bottle of Monkey 47 Gin, Tanqueray 10 Gin and a bottle of Garden Tiger (whatever one I can find). My go to at the moment is anything by Adelaide Hills Distillery.
What's next for That Spirited Lot - any exciting plans?
This year we will aim to expand our cellar door offerings and hours. It is also highly likely that we will invest in a new larger pot still to increase our whisky production. Towards the end of 2020 we will start the process of looking for a suitable location to purpose build our new distillery within the next few years.