Jon & Nicole Durdin – Seppeltsfield Road Distillers
It’s been a complicated start to the year in Australia to say the least – Extreme temperatures and catastrophic fires, now floods in some parts – did you also have to shut down and how has it impacted you as a distillery?
Jon- Bushfires are a part of life in Australia, but the extent of fires this year are unprecedented. The bushfire season in Australia has been devastating for so many families and businesses both in South Australia and Australia as a whole. We have been very lucky so far to be unaffected directly by bushfires in our community. We do, however, have an in-house policy which means we close our doors on days designated as Catastrophic Bushfire Risk to keep both our customers and staff safe on those especially dangerous days. Our fingers are firmly crossed that we have seen the worst of this year’s bushfire season.
Let’s hope so. You are returning to London later this year, with your gins now having been available here over the past twelve months. How have you felt the reception has been here so far?
Nicole – The reception and the feedback we received at Junipalooza 2019 far exceeded our expectations but we’re taking a cautious approach to entering more wholeheartedly into the UK market. We’ve got some very exciting activities on the horizon though and we look forward to spending more time sharing our gins with the UK.
What do you think is the biggest difference between the two markets are?
Nicole – With craft distilling in Australia still in its infancy and the lack of a heritage in gin production, Australian distilleries appear less hamstrung by tradition. This sees distilleries pushing the boundaries (sometimes for good and sometimes not!) with botanical selection, production processes and packaging design. And let’s hope we can avoid Pink being the biggest thing in Gin since……..Gin.
Do you feel like the distillery has an ethos and if so – what do you stand for?
Jon – Keeping it real!! What you see is what you get. Our distillery is deliberately on show so our customers can see what we do and how we do it.
2019 saw a limited release of Semi-Gin, using hand-picked Barossa Semillon Grapes – what inspired you to make it and was the reaction from fans?
Nicole – We actually put Semi-Gin on the backburner for 2019 due to a very difficult grape vintage but it will be back in 2020!
We were always going to make a Shiraz Gin, given the Barossa makes the best Shiraz in Australia it would be remiss of us not to! The predominant white grape in Barossa Valley is Semillon, with vines dating back over 100 years which make wines that are full of pears and fresh citrus, with a buttery mouthfeel. It was sheer curiosity as to what would happen if we made a Semillon Gin – or Semi-Gin. We found that the result was much closer to a fortified style of wine rather than gin, even though the grapes were not fermented. It had a buttery toffee texture with juniper and citrus undertones, served best neat over ice or in a sour cocktail.
With extremely limited stocks, Semi-Gin has been building a cult following in the cocktail scene but alas, the store is now empty and fans will need to await a May/June new release.
We can’t wait, it looks so interesting. The shiraz just flies off the shelves and the crossover between wine and gin is growing – so will the Semillon Gin be a permanent addition, or are you looking to experiment with other grapes?
Nicole – I am curious to experiment with a couple of other grape varieties, our biggest challenge with that is grape production volumes and the challenges grape growers are having with the impact of climate change on their vines.
Vintage 2019 was down by 30-60% due to a number of weather events at crucial growth points in the vines, and our ability to experiment relies on there being grapes available, so watch this space as we enter vintage 2020!
As a distiller, what are you most proud about having done?
Nicole – I think the thing I am most proud of is creating a range of gins that are so completely different, yet equally appealing to the consumer. It’s easy to make something that I like, but there’s no guarantee that anyone else will like it, so to see good sales across all our lines is wonderful.
Gold medals for our House Gin at the 2019 London Spirits Competition and UK Global Gin Masters were also pretty proud moments, as was winning Best New Tourism Business in South Australia this year.
And last but not least – what’s the big aim for 2020?
Jon – 2020 will see the release of a couple of new products, as well as increasing our distribution throughout Australia, New Zealand, China and of course the UK. We will be doing our first stage of extension works at the distillery so Jon has an office and gets out of my way, and we will be welcoming our first Production Distiller so I can spend more time being creative!
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