The Finders Journey - Starting a Distillery
Updated: Mar 23
In our previous blog post The Finders Journey – Distillery Conception we told the story of how the idea for our distillery was conceived. In this post I will talk about how we went from concept to where we are now.
Since returning to Australia we have committed every minute of our time to turning our idea into a reality. I returned to my previous employment on a short-term contract as I knew I would need to be working on the distillery full-time later in the year (Pro AV Solutions is a great place to work and I am grateful for their support). Georgia took her wealth of experience in buying over to the alcohol industry, starting a job for an online retailer (where she currently works as a senior buyer). Almost every other second of the day we spent working on our business (ask our friends and family, they are probably sick of hearing about it).
I have spent the last two years completely immersing myself in the distillation process and honing the recipe that is now Finders Distillery Australian Dry Gin, which we couldn’t be happier with. The initial idea was for a classic London Dry style gin - punchy, juniper forward with a complex and smooth palate. I wanted to show off certain local flavours while being open to using exotic, international botanicals. In my mind I knew the gin we were looking for, I just had to find it in the mountain of ingredients available. Some amazing botanicals were discovered and some that will never be discussed in public. I produced hundreds of distillates, building a library of botanicals and recipes that tell the story of my distilling journey.
After establishing the nine botanicals that make up our recipe, it was time to focus on the best production methods. We engaged industry experts and spoke to as many people as possible about processes and procedures. We started learning what makes a good gin great. We conducted experiments on dilution procedures, maceration times, cutting points, resting periods, distillation techniques, the list goes on. Although there will always be room for improvement in everything we do, our gin is damn delicious, and we are excited to share it with everyone.
Whilst we definitely couldn’t start a distillery without a kickass product, we have also spent a lot of time over the past year developing our brand ethos. We want our products to represent us. Which includes both the liquid inside as well as the packaging outside. We have our prototype gin bottle front and centre at our home “bar” and we would like our customers and stockists to want to do the same. We have sourced materials from all over the world to get our product looking as good as it does 😊 Our bottles are from France, corks from Portugal, seals from Asia and labels from right here in Australia.
However, it’s not all gin tastings and fun label designs. There is a mountain of legal requirements and red tape involved in starting a distillery. At a glance these include development consent (local level), liquor licencing (state level) and excise licencing (federal level). Anybody who has started a distillery will testify that this is a long and exhausting process (check out The Whiskey List for a comprehensive list of Australian distilleries). Luckily the end result is worth the effort! Even as I write this there are still legal requirements that need to be satisfied prior to our official launch in March 2020.
Now, we can’t forget one key step in the process – finding a property to turn into our distillery! We always wanted our distillery to be on Sydney’s North Shore. This is where Georgia grew up and where we call home. After a long time looking for a space that was zoned correctly, we finally found a small warehouse with great potential. As our distillery equipment continues to arrive, and fit-out tasks are completed, it’s looking more and more like a distillery every day. With the bottle rinsing, filling, filtration, corking, labelling and sealing stations ready to go there is just one important piece of equipment missing – our beautiful 300L copper pot still. This beauty is due to arrive late February and then the real magic happens – ingredients going in and delicious gin coming out. If you’re now wondering how we have made gin so far without this key piece of equipment, we have a 2.5L and a 5L copper pot still that are used for all our test distillations. We have certainly put these little guys through their paces.
A lot of work has gone into creating the business we have today and we haven’t even launched our first product yet! There is a lot more to do and some very exciting times coming in the next couple of months. Thanks for being a part of our story so far and we look forward to sharing the next stage with everyone.