Tasmania continues to lead the way in the growth of distilling in Australia. Last week, I was the guest of Southern Wild Distillery, makers of Dasher & Fisher gin, who invited me to their home in Devonport.
Master Distiller, George Burgess’ previous career as a food technologist involved removing the variation of seasons and ingredients. With his gins, he’s done a complete about-face and is using locally foraged ingredients and embracing the seasons when they are available. George explains every sip should “give the drinker a sense of time and place; that the drinker should almost smell and taste the season and the landscape.”
George is passionate about supporting local people and their businesses. All of the ingredients he uses in his spirits are a stone’s throw from the distillery and he thinks nothing of cruising around Devonport checking out the fruit and plants growing in people’s gardens before hopping out, introducing himself, and asking if he can take some away.
He could be perceived as a botanical stalker, but judging by the warm welcome from Andy, whose garden houses the magnificent bay tree that George regularly harvests, they are happy to be involved in supporting a local business.
Named after the local rivers, Dasher and Fisher gins come in three styles, Mountain, Meadow and Ocean each feature the same three botanicals: pepperberry, lavender, and wakame (seaweed).
George created ‘Mountain’ for those who prefer a very traditional style of gin. In addition to the juniper and pepper berry it features 11 botanicals including cardamom and liquorice.
‘Meadow’ contains 15 botanicals, including bay, rosemary, sage and fresh oranges, nearly all of which are picked from local gardens and fields.
‘Ocean’ is the most delicate of the three. In addition to the wakame, George has incorporated rose, chamomile, and orris root to create a floral gin with hints of ocean spray.
Devonport is in the midst of the largest urban renewal project ever undertaken in regional Tasmania. The Living City project is a new multi-purpose civic building, convention centre and will boast a new Food Pavilion showcasing regional Tasmanian products.
The Living City project approached George about the distillery when the original building he had selected became unavailable. He jumped at the chance and Southern Wild Distillery has taken a temporary space while the site is built. On completion, (November 2017), George will be adding two additional stills, an 1800 litre and a 3600 litrefor his whisky.
George has exciting plans for a different style of whisky and seasonal gins, so it looks like Devonport will be another fantastic spirit designation to add to your ‘to do’ list!
Southern Wild Distillery is open to the public daily from 9.30am-5pm (later on Friday and Saturday evenings).