CQ distillery in high spirits after prestigious global win
IMAGINE the biggest moment of your career came via an email, but that email went to your junk folder.
This is what happened to Rockhampton Saleyards Distillery owners Warren and Catie Brewer.
"You mean we could have known about this yesterday?" Catie laughed as her husband Warren confessed where the award-winning email was sent.
Yesterday, the Rockhampton-based couple revealed two of their gins had gained a spot among the best spirits in the world.
The 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) is considered to be the most influential spirit competition in the world.
More than 2,200 spirits were judged this year, the largest number of entries in their 18-year history and products were judged from all over the world.
"The gold means it's a top quality spirit," Warren said.
"We are really happy, just ecstatic.
"It's the most prestigious competition in the world. It's the one that I have always wanted to win something in."
Billy Goat's Gin is a small batch, hand crafted gin, using a unique selection of old and new world botanicals. It has combined an Australian wheat spirit with the freshness of ruby red grapefruit, lemon myrtle and native Australian finger limes for a vibrant citrus burst.
"Products awarded a gold medal are exceptional. They are near the pinnacle of achievement in their particular category, they are products that set the standard for all others of their type," Catie said.
"If I am in a bottle shop and I see the San Francisco Spirits Competition sticker, I know it's a premium spirit. And now it's a sticker we get to place on our bottle.
"It's not been an easy journey, we have struggled. We have those days where we think, 'what are we doing?'.
"But we have always known our spirits are good. That's what we are passionate about, and it's what we know."
Two years ago, the former Sydney-based couple quit their jobs, packed their kids, bought a caravan and hit the road.
A chance encounter back in Warren's home town of Rockhamprton saw the couple become the owners of the Saleyards.
"It was about finding a building that could house what we wanted to do, and we came across this two years ago," Catie said.
"Winning this has given us the hope that what we are doing is working, that we are on the right track.
"We are small and we have done everything on a small budget, so people think you can't have amazing spirits. But you can, everyone has to start off somewhere."
Over a decade long passion, Warren began distilling more than 12 years ago in Sydney with friends.
"I started with rum," he said.
"We branched out into gin then."
A self-proclaimed lover of gin, Catie said her experience as a nutrition therapist helped with the addition of botanicals in the spirit.
"There are amazing botanicals available in Australia. From lemon myrtle to the subtlety of finger limes, we had tasted some great Australian gins," she said.
"And we thought to ourselves, 'well, we can make this'.
"It was a bit of a challenge, but we tried our hand at gin."
Warren said the gold-award recipe was developed over a period of around six months.
"We had some bad runs," they both laughed.
"It took a long time and a lot of experimenting."
To prep for a batch, Catie said they prepared all the ingredients by hand.
"It takes about eight hours by the time we peel, zest, and do whatever else is involved," she said.
"The recipe is so specific, so it takes a long time."
Not only have they just found out their gin rates among the best in the world, but Rockhampton Saleyards Distillery owners Warren and Catie Brewer will now be stocking products in Dan Murphys bottle shop.
The gold-winning Billy Goats Gin and the Capricorn Spiced Rum will be stocked in the Rockhampton store. The bronze-winning Wise Old Goat will also hopefully be available in store.
"The rum will be on there in a few weeks and we are just waiting on labels for the gin," Warren said.
"Or people can buy it online or come in and see us to buy some."
To celebrate their two recent achievements, The Saleyards Distillery is teaming up with Queensland Spirits to host a two day spirit celebration where the public can sample products and learn about the distillation process. Other Queensland distilleries include 1770, Art of Booze, Kalki Moon and Mount Uncle.
The event will be held on Friday 4 May and Saturday 5 May 2018.
To buy tickets info can be found on the Saleyards Distillery or Queensland Spirits Facebook page. Or you can pop in and buy tickets at the distillery door or call 0422 400 464.