Wikipedia:- Distillation, or classical distillation, is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation. Dry distillation is the heating of solid materials to produce gaseous products (which may condense into liquids or solids). Dry distillation may involve chemical changes such as destructive distillation or cracking and is not discussed under this article. Distillation may result in essentially complete separation (nearly pure components), or it may be a partial separation that increases the concentration of selected components in the mixture. In either case, the process exploits differences in the relative volatility of the mixture's components. In industrial applications, distillation is a unit of operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process, not a chemical reaction.
Distilleries use this process to concentrate a variety of spirits from different base products. Whisky from grains, Rum from sugar cane products, Brandy from wine, Tequila from agave plants, and Vodka from potato, grain or sugar, to name a few.
In a nutshell, curiosity and opportunity!
While on a Christmas holiday break, curiosity got the better of me and I fell into a rabbit hole of information on the internet about how Whisky is made and it was also apparent that Newcastle did not have an established distillery! So asking myself the question ‘why not’ and in the spirit of adventure, I set off to attend a one day ‘introduction to distilling’ course in Tasmania.
This was followed by a variety of courses and distillery visits, and a discussion with my brother and business partner, Richard, who agreed we should develop a business plan and start investigating the approval processes and budgeting.
Over the next six months, we identified an opportunity for a distillery on a site we had available in Carrington that was zoned appropriately, and many of the obstacles looked surmountable (or so we thought).
A key element from the outset was how we could integrate this seemingly weird decision to establish a distillery into our existing ceramic tile business which we had spent the last 30 years building? What would be ‘the story’ and how could we co-brand or leverage all the hard work we had already implemented.
Interestingly, the family business is approaching 140 years old, and has historically taken an adaptive approach that has appeared to help with its survival. Over those years the business has worked in importation, coal mining, and merchandising a vast array of products and services. Moving in and out of these ‘chapters’ has not always been an ‘all or nothing’ approach or to the exclusion of the past.
The ceramic tile business has grown from its Newcastle only base, to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and the brand is firmly focussed on sustainability, innovation and quality.
We believed this was a great brand to further leverage as a spirit brand, and having established a national distribution for ceramic tiles we hoped to increase the brand exposure while operating in two distinctly different industries. Hence we retained the family name, utilised a ceramic bottle, used ‘next generation’ equipment, and planned for sustainability in all aspects of our operations.
The result has created an unusual synergy and a distillery that is unique in many ways.
Our distilling equipment has proven that modern technology can produce world class spirits with 17 awards at national and international competitions for our Gin, Vodka and Limoncello to date. We are keen to start entering our Rum now it is approaching maturation.
Whether ceramic tiles or spirits, the underlying business principles remain the same, and the key to any good organisation is the people or the team driving the business. We are lucky to have great support from passionate people that share our vision of aiming to produce world class spirits in the most innovative and sustainable manner possible.