Earlier this year, we discovered that a new distillery was opening just up the road from our headquarters so decided swing by and introduce ourselves! There we met Kyle and Georgia, owners of the distillery and took the opportunity to find out more about them and their new distillery!
Q: What is it about gin that got you guys excited and why have you started a gin distillery?
G: We’ve both drunk gin since our early 20s, so gin was a no-brainer for us but the story behind the distillery started with a trip we took in 2016. We’d been studying and working full time for years and were getting a bit burnt out and wanted to take a bit of a breath to celebrate finishing our degrees. We thought let’s go away for a week, maybe a month and somehow turned into if we used all of our money, how long could we go for and that was two years. On that trip we were pretty open-minded that maybe we might not come back, we might find somewhere we like and stay, maybe have a bit of a career change. While we didn’t find anywhere that really made us want to give up the Australian lifestyle, we did find a new interest which was craft distilling. We tried sake in Japan, pisco in South America, bourbon in Kentucky and basically did a self-guided distillery tour of Ireland and Scotland. Afterwards we thought “we need to get into this industry”. We came up with this idea that we thought would be an interesting thing to bring into the Australian market and that was the last push that made us say “let’s just do it”.
K: That was the decision that we were like yeah ok this is a great industry, something we want to be a part of, distilling is such an amazing thing and distilling gin is a great creative opportunity and then we had this idea for something new and that’s when we thought “ok let’s do it – this is awesome and let’s take this to Australia.
Q: So what hints can you give us about this new special thing that you’re launching?
G: Yeah as we mentioned what really pushed us to turn our interest into a career was our idea for a range of limited release gins which we are calling the Location Series. Travel is a big part of our lives. Kyle and I met travelling Europe back in 2011 and have been on countless trips together since. We wanted to incorporate this love of travel and discovering something new into our distillery – which is how we came up with the idea for the Location Series Gin. For this series of products we will be sourcing botanicals unique to a specific Australian region and creating a bespoke gin highlighting both the local ingredients and the towns.
K: We wanted to create more than just a product, but a story of Australian produce worth sharing. We are hoping the location series arouses interest and curiosity, getting everyone excited to not only experience new flavours, but to travel and explore the beautiful places they came from.
Q: So what is the reason you chose St Leonards or this particular area to set up a distillery? Why North Sydney? It’s a fairly quiet area and I’m glad to see it’s not so quiet now which is fantastic but what drew you guys here?
K: Well Georgia is from the North Shore originally. Before we left on the two-year trip we were living on the Northern beaches. We love this area, we love Sydney. We travelled for two years but still wanted to come back to this lifestyle, this part of Australia, this part of Sydney. It’s where we wanted to have our gin distillery.
G: And we love the thought of being the first distillery in this area and bringing something new to the community.
K: It is super important to us. It’s in our tagline – spirits from the north side. We are a distillery in North Sydney, making gin for North Sydney.
Q: So what are some of the unique aspects of what you make in your gin? So there’s obviously a lot of Australian Gin, so what is Finders bringing that is new to the table?
K: So I guess it starts off with what we wanted to create. We sat down and said we’re going to make gin – what do we like in a gin and what do we want our gin to express? And for us that was a London dry base, so that flavour, that profile that you specifically associate with London dry but with an Australian twist. We created that London dry canvas and then we added a couple of native Australian botanicals that were carefully selected. We did hundreds of iterations of distillations to find things that we thought would represent our brand as a North Sydney brand but also that we wanted to be in our flavour profile to match the gin we were aiming for. The first time I distilled chamomile, I thought “This has to go in my gin”. When I smelled it come off the still, it had to go in there. What makes it different is we have that familiarity with the London dry flavour and then it’s got that added complexity with a couple of Aussie botanicals.
G: We tried to find a middle ground between that classic gin and the really big, bold modern Australian ones. We wanted it to hold up in a gin and tonic but also be able to be used in classic gin cocktails as well.
Q: So what are your plans for the future of the distillery? Will you be having a bar tasting room? What sort of facilities will you bring to N Sydney?
G: Yes we have a tasting room that will be open every Friday and Saturday from 2pm-9pm and we will run distillery tours and tastings every Saturday before the tasting room opens.
Q: Do you think you will do blend your own gin type events or anything, things that say less experienced drinkers might be able to get a better understanding of what a gin is because I know there are a lot of people that don’t even know that juniper is pretty important to gin? Will there be a focus on that you think?
G: Yes as part of our distillery tour which give an overview of the history of gin, how it was created, how we distil our Australian dry gin and it ends with a guided tasting session where we talk through the 9 botanicals in our recipe and how they all contribute to the flavour profile of the final product.
Q: Do you see much of a focus on the corporate market or just the engaged drinker? What sort of clientele will come through?
K: We want to start off in the North Sydney area and expand out from there. In North Sydney, we want people in their favourite bars to see our product on the shelf. They can also come into the distillery and see how gin is made and talk to me. I’m open for anyone to come in and chat!
Q: What was the first gin that took your breath away? The first gin you sat down and went “Oh"
G: The first gin I ever drank was Bombay Sapphire but the first gin that took my breath away was gunpowder. Its an Irish gin that became our go to while we were living there and was my first experience with a truly craft gin.
K: Me and a couple of friends shared a house when I was in the Airforce and most Friday afternoon’s we would have a BBQ and sit around and drink gin. This was about 10-15 years ago before it was as popular as gin is now. The first one that came to mind when you asked the question was when a mate came around and brought a bottle of Bulldog gin. It was a long time ago but it was the first gin I had that wasn’t Gordons or pub gin and I thought “Oh ok, this spirit is a lot more complex than I have given it credit for. Let’s explore it a bit further”.
Q: So if you’re not drinking gin, what would be your favourite tipple? What would you go to?
G: I always say there is a drink for every occasion, I think together we drink whisky.
K: I guess we have gone through stages of what we do and don’t like to drink. Whisky at the moment is pretty high on our list.
Q: What about gin do you think that it makes it so attractive to the Australian market? As you know has exploded in the last 10 years, especially. What is it about gin that is really resonating with consumers?
G: I think it’s probably showcasing the Australian produce. I think it’s hard to do that in other spirits and the gin guys have really run with it. Some of the brands are doing really well with their exporting and I think that shows that there really is a demand for what we are creating in Australia.
K: And with the move towards drink less but better, it seems like before the gin movement, the spirit was not necessarily the centre or the focus of the drink. A gin and tonic was smashed with heaps of tonic whereas people are seeing that the spirit can be the focus of the drink.
G: I think gin for at home cocktails especially has contributed to its popularity, the g and t is so easy. It’s not complicated and it’s easy for anyone to make.
Q: What do you think gin brands can do to bring their point across to the consumer? There’s still a lot of people drinking Hendricks or big brands in back bars. What do you think Aussie gin producers to raise the awareness of what is out there and to get people trying different flavours?
G: I think it’s just really telling the story of the brand – we’re seeing that more and more people want to support local. You can see after the bushfires people want to help small towns, small businesses. I think beyond the crisis Australia is in atm as well people like supporting small, local business where they can. I think we have started to see a shift with bars picking up more and more local brands, but at the end of the day we need the bars and pubs to make the switch so Australian brands are more available to everyone.
Q: How important to your business moving forward is having that local aspect? Is it something you would love to see when people from North Sydney bring their friends over and they’re exposing their friends from out of state or overseas to your gin and also perhaps giving gifts of your gin?
G: I think getting on board with the local community is a huge step for us and number one for us. It’s the first step in our brand launch is making sure that North Sydney knows that we’re here and that we are trying to support the community and we would love them to support us as well.
Q: Do you have any plans to produce other spirits or other products other than gin that you can share?
K: We have a huge mountain in gin atm and it is a big challenge and it is our focus and our love and what we want to put everything into but to say that we haven’t thought about other spirits would be a bit silly. We would 100% would never say never.
G: And we have a vodka in the works. We were planning to launch the vodka with the Australian Dry Gin but decided to focus on making sure the gin was in the best possible place it could be and pushed the vodka back.
Q: And would you be open to collabs or working with other brands to do something?
K: That is a win-win situation. Everybody has something you can learn from so to be able to work on somebody else’s product with them is a no-brainer.
G: And the one thing we have found we love about the industry so far is that it is all about collaboration and not competition which is – we just love that.
K: It is overwhelming to be honest, just how much people in the industry are actually willing to help and share their knowledge. I don’t think it happens in any other industry that I know of as prominently as it has in the distillery industry.
G: I am hoping that it stays around when the industry inevitably grows.
K: I feel like a lot of people have passed on a lot of knowledge and skills to me to me in my journey up to now. I will be hopefully continuing that trend of passing it on to people who are also want to learn about the industry. Pay it forward.
Thanks to Georgia and Kyle for taking the time to chat with us!
You can purchase Finders Dry Gin here!