Kylie Sepos – Farmer’s Wife
Ahead of Junipalooza Melbourne we’re playing catch-up with some of the down under distillers making their way to the Aussie leg of the show. This round goes to Kylie Sepsos, the wife of a third generation egg farmer whose love of the countryside she lives in led to her creating a very local gin. Pour yourself a G&T and settle in to hear what got her started on her very ginny journey…
When did the journey into distilling begin for you? Can you remember the moment you decided you were going to go for it?
It was on a trip to Tasmania five years ago, while I was enjoying the amazing artisan producers and craft distilleries. I realised that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I’d worked for 20 years in the corporate world, but after four years of dreaming, research and a lot of hard work we finally launched our first batch of hand crafted gin just 12 months ago.
What prompted you to do it? Presumably, given the Farmer’s Wife name, there’s a connection to the land and its ingredients already?
Living in the country and from 3rd generation farmers we were inspired to share our love of country life and our passion for creating something unique. I wanted to be one of those lucky people that get to pursue their passion and craft distilling seemed the perfect fit. The concept of the Farmers Wife Distillery was formed sharing a fine gin with friends. It had to incorporate all of my passions, my love for growing food and gardening, my love of family, friends and community and the idea of mastering different flavours to produce something unique and special.
What flavours do you think define your gin?
Ruby grapefruit, native sage, myrtles and pepperberry along with our signature native sugar bag honey all bestow their magic upon our gin, layering each sip with a refined local flavour. The result is exactly what I set out to create, a gin that is at home in a traditional cocktail but with enough complexity and softness to be sipped neat.
Sugar bag honey… what on earth is that?
Sugar bag honey is produced in small quantities by Australian native stingless bees. These bees only produce about 1kg of honey per hive per year making it quite rare, dense and strong in flavour. This inscribes a unique citrus sweetness that when distilled using a traditional copper pot still also delivers a softness and depth to the gin.
You use sugar cane as a base neutral spirit, which is less common than getting a wheat base from Manildra or a grape base from Tarac. What made you chose to go down that route?
I trialed our recipe with all three spirit bases but really preferred the palate of the neutral spirit made from Australian sugar cane. It provides a clean blank canvas on which I can weave my botanical magic!
Learning how to distill is a steep curve at first – as a reasonably new distiller, what are you most proud about having achieved so far?
Learning the art of distilling was certainly a steep curve, but then to perfect a recipe that was offering something unique to the gin world was even more of a challenge. Having our Autumn Dry Gin recognised at the London Spirits competition this year where we topped the silver medal category was certainly amazing recognition of our achievement of this.
If you had to describe the personality of you gin, what would be like?
Our gin is definitely bold and spirited but approachable.
How big is a batch of gin for you and how long does it take you to make each time?
Our beautiful 600 litre Australian made copper pot still was commissioned to Peter Bailey of Hobart Tasmania. It produces around 300 litres of gin each batch, which takes just over a month to produce.
You’ve pledged $1 from each bottle sold to go to Buy A Bale – what is the program and what does it do?
Living on the land with can be extremely hard and heartbreaking. We want to give back to our farming community in its time of need and encourage our friends to do the same. Buy a Bale is a drought appeal campaign through Rural Aid, providing meaningful support for farmers by delivering hay and other essential items to farmers who are struggling to feed their livestock through one of the worst droughts in Australian history.
Lastly, what’s the next big milestone you are working towards?
Our dream is to build a beautiful, big new home for the Farmer’s Wife Distillery on our farm. This contemporary style barn will house a cellar door for tastings, a cafe and a permaculture garden where we can grow more of the botanical’s that make our gin so special. Our dream is to have a place where people can learn, enjoy and – hopefully, as we were – be inspired by the magic of craft distilling!
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