Catherine Crothers and Gary Jago had been working in the corporate world for more than two decades, when one night at their property in Newham an idea sparked a life-changing moment.
The married couple were winding down from work and the commute, enjoying their favourite gin.
“I thought ‘I wonder how you make gin?’ and we started to look into it,” Ms Crothers said.
This was the beginning of a long journey into the creation of Big Tree Distillery.
“We did a lot of reading and then did a course on distilling. I had a meeting in Tasmania not long after for my other work but knew there was Australia’s only copper still-maker there,” Mr Jago said.
“He handmakes and tailor-makes his own stills. There was a two year waiting list so I thought if we are going to do it, now is the time.”
Five years on, Big Tree Distillery is in motion and has recently won a Double Gold medal for their Claude Navy Strength gin and a Bronze medal for their Elegant Dry gin at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
On Thursday night, the couple also won Gold for their Elegant Dry Gin, Silver for the Navy Strength and Silver for their Cumquat infused Seasonal Gin at the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria’s Australian Distilled Spirit Awards.
“We are delighted with the result,” Ms Crothers said.
“I feel like the journey to making this gin was really meant to be. We have tried a lot of Australian gin and the botanicals they use, but we wanted to expand our knowledge through a botanist.
“I was walking my dog close to home and ran into a man on the side of the road wearing a broad brimmed hat and who was carrying a camera. I asked him ‘Are you a botanist?’ it turned out he was. He then passed us onto someone who has helped us with different blends for our gins.”
Big Tree Distillery likes to focus on local, native botanicals for their gin – some from their own property.
“We’ve got about 60 Juniper trees at the moment. We have been putting cumquats into our tanks to infuse into our seasonal gin – it’s all about flavour,” Mr Jago said.
“Our Navy strength gin uses Southern Sassafras foraged from the Victorian mountains along with bay leaves. It’s so interesting learning about Australia’s botanicals and experimenting with different flavours.”
Ms Crothers believes their fresh rainwater on the farm really adds to their unique flavours.
“We also had our bottles designed by local artist Sarah Gabriel who painted the artworks with the different native botanicals,” Ms Crothers said.
They both hope to start taking group bookings soon and help customers understand the process into making gin.
“We are under construction at the moment, setting up a tasting room,” Ms Crothers said.
For more information on Big Tree Distillery head to their website
www.bigtreedistillery.com.au or email email@example.com.