Jackson Boyd – Noosa Heads
Ahead of Junipalooza Melbourne we’re playing catch-up with some of the down under distillers making their way to the Aussie version of the show. Noosa Heads is one of the newest producers making their way down to the show this year, but despite its young age and steep learning curve, it’s miles ahead of much of the competition in some regards already. This is definitely one to watch, so we thought it wise that distiller Jackson Boyd gave us the lowdown on just about everything….
You are a new distillery so many enthusiasts will not have discovered you yet. Let’s start off right at the beginning – how did it come about?
Our team is a mixed bag of locals, outdoor enthusiasts and adventurous characters that all reside amongst the sunshine of the Sunny Coast. Following on from the success of Land & Sea Brewery, the team were keen to take their adventurous passion for encapsulating the essence of Noosa into the world of fine spirits.
And who’s the team behind Noosa Heads Distillery?
I spent many years cooking in fine dining restaurants before moving to Scotland where I fell in love with Whisky, so much so that I aspired to dive down into the depths of the distilling world and completed a two year course in advance distillation and maturation.
Once I returned to Noosa I joined Tim Crabtree to be involved in the set-up of the first distillery on the Sunshine Coast. Since the initial inception, the team has grown to include Elise Haddon, who is our Tasting Bar Manager here at the venue. She specialises in cocktail development, ensuring that we’re always mixing up new and exciting cocktails of the highest standard. We’ve also added a Marketing & Sales crew to help us drive the Fortune narrative.
When did you all start off and how long did it take to get up and running?
Planning kicked off 12 months ago, Tim is great with design & branding so he got stuck into creating the ‘Fortune’ brand while I began designing the core range (the Signature Dry Gin, Vodka and White Malt) and the installation of the still.
Unfortunately the still installation wrapped up just before Christmas so we weren’t able to get it workingfor another four weeks, which meant our first distillation was January 25th. It was an exciting time. By March 2019 we were ready to launch with an epic party that partnered with a lot of Noosa’s fine restaurants, bars and the community for a really great night.
We can only imagine! What were you doing before becoming craft distillers and what prompted the change?
All the members of the Fortune team had a passion for fine spirits even though we came from a varied number of backgrounds.
I had been working in Michelin Star restaurants across London before moving to Scotland where by chance I found myself living next to Scotland’s smallest Single Malt distillery, sparking an obsession with distilling.
In contrast, Tim had a background in Brand Development and whilst running Land & Sea Brewery saw an opportunity to introduce his love of spirits, so it wasn’t so much a change in direction but more a natural progression into creating the fine spirits he had always wanted to make.
Where does the Fortune name and identity become a part of the story?
We share our home and ethos with The Land & Sea Brewery, so we’ve strived to continue that sense of adventure and the great outdoors while taking influence from the Bygone era of class, refinement and adventure.
Proudly craft and proudly Noosa, we endeavour to make all our spirits using local ingredients to produce drinks and experiences for the Noosa environment. ‘Fortune’ spirits are created with fine classic cocktails in mind, yet are unique enough to have their own personality, offering the consumer their own adventure, hence our phrase – Fortune flavours the brave.
What’s been the highlight of the journey so far?
The highlight has been the emergence of a team that works really closely together. We’ve created a family feel where passions are appreciated. One of our biggest achievements is bringing together this amazing team that will now help us grow the brand.
Another highlight is definitely the opportunity to educate the public on how fine spirits are produced through our distillery tours and events, and changing opinions on how unique and creative Gin can be.
You have a flagship dry & a navy strength, the latter you’ve made a special release of 600 units in collaboration with the Artist Peter Phillips. How did the collab come around?
Peter Phillips recently moved his gallery to the area and was looking to team up with some local artists for a collaboration piece. We were connected during the Noosa Food and Wine Festival this year and saw an opportunity to mix it up with an Artist x Distillery collaboration.
Peter Phillips is just a perfect fit for Fortune as he himself is from the era our brand represents, his work and personality perfectly encapsulates vintage glamour and refinement so we were really keen to jump on board.
Why did you do a Navy Strength version for it, as opposed to something at a lower ABV?
If you haven’t looked up Peter Phillips be sure to because he is a pioneer of POP art and has been an artist for six decades. As a lover of highball spirits Peter’s personality called for something punchy, which is why we went with the Navy Strength.
The high alcohol canvas also gave us the opportunity to really highlight the unique botanicals that we used which are all linked to countries around the world that Peter has encountered throughout his life as an artist.
Your other collab is with a restaurant – Sum Yung Guys. What are the big flavours in that and what was the inspiration behind it?
The four fellas behind Sum Yung Guys (including Masterchef contestant Matt Sinclair) are known for their creative and vibrant Asian flavours so we were pretty keen to partner them with the bold curated flavours of Fortune and to just have some fun with it.
The Vietnamese Pho is a classic so to find that flavour we dove down the rabbit hole with Fish Sauce as the initial taste and aroma. The inclusion of Fish Sauce is an example of how much we all wanted to play around, but I think it really works to underly the bold flavours that set the basis of a good Pho. We designed this Gin with clean distinct flavours such as Spring Onion, Bean Shoots, Chilli, Seaweed and for some “meatiness” Porcini Mushrooms. Much like Pho we topped it all of with a fresh herb salad that compliments this ‘alcoholic soup’ with a gorgeous freshness.
Fish sauce is really unusual, we can’t wait to taste it! You also make a vodka – do you make that from scratch, and is it what’s used as the base for the gin, or is that made differently?
We’re really proud to make our products from scratch for our Whiskies and Rums (which we are currently barrel ageing) as we are able to tailor make our wash’s in the Land & Sea Brewery.
For our Vodka and Gin’s we use neutral grain spirit as it creates a blank canvas for our beautiful botanicals to shine through.
What’s the big milestone you are working towards at the moment?
We’re excited to be working on our first limited seasonal release which is our take on a Sloe style – Peppered Strawberry Gin. In light of the issues in the strawberry industry last year, we’ve teamed up with TCL Farm to raise awareness and support Queensland Strawberry Farms.
Being able to support Queensland farms is really important to us. This is evident throughout our entire gin range, from the Honeydew in our Signature Dry Gin to all the fresh herbs in the Sum Yung Guys Pho Gin through to freshly picked strawberries for this limited release, which will be conveniently ready just four days before Junipalooza…
Working on limited and seasonal releases like the Peppered Strawberry Gin is something we’re really passionate about, and at 6 months since launch our first seasonal release is something we’ve all been looking forward to.
Look forward to that at the show – Thanks for chatting to us and see you soon!
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