I’m very excited to share this interview with Tim Stones, Head Distiller at Manly Spirits with you. Long time readers will recognise Tim from this article I wrote a couple of years ago when Tim was Global Brand Ambassador at Beefeater. During my 2016 trip to Tales of the Cocktail, Tim confided that he was moving to Australia and was looking for a change of career.
How long have you been a distiller?
I’ve been distilling on and off for a few years, but finally made the move to full-time when I relocated to Australia in January 2017.
Did you always want to work in distilling?
It wasn’t something I had really considered in my previous bartending life, but once I started at Beefeater and spent more time around distilleries, I grew more and more fascinated by the whole process.
How did you become a distiller?
While working at Beefeater I had the pleasure to work with Desmond Payne, and Sean Harrison from Plymouth. Working with those guys made me realise it was something I wanted to pursue. During my time as Beefeater Global Ambassador I studied for my General Certificate in Distilling and completed hands-on training with the teams both in London and Scotland. Then, as fortune has it, a certain Melbourne-based gin blogger (GQ: that’s me!) then put me in touch with Manly Spirits Co., and here we are.
What is the best thing about your job?
When a recipe finally clicks. It’s a good feeling.
What is the most challenging thing about distilling gin?
The balance of the botanicals. A gram, or even a fraction of a gram, either way can really change the profile of the product. Also, I’m now working with native Australian botanicals, so there’s a whole load of stuff I’ve never tried before and using those can be challenging at times.
How do you choose which botanicals to use?
Using the Aussie botanicals is pretty inspiring. As I mentioned, there are flavours that I’ve never come across so there are plenty of things to experiment with. The hardest part is choosing what not to use!
Who/what inspires you?
Desmond (Payne, Master Distiller at Beefeater) and Sean (Harrison, Master Distiller at Plymouth gin) have been my two mentors so obviously, them, and I really admire some of the Aussie producers. Also, caffeine.
Your favourite gin cocktail and why?
The Dry Martini. Because the gin has nowhere to hide.
Which are your favourite bars (anywhere in the world)
I really miss Happiness Forgets in London, but am enjoying reacquainting myself with the Sydney scene. High Five in Tokyo, Mother’s Ruin in NYC, and The Gin Joint in Athens are always first on my list if I’m in town.
What’s next? Any future plans?
The gin and botanical vodka recipes are sorted and winning awards! And we’ve just started making whisky so I’m super excited about that. It’s going to take up a lot of my time, but I’ll be constantly on the lookout for botanicals to make some interesting new gins.
You can meet Tim on Saturday 10th Feb as part of Gin Queen on Tour ~ Sydney. Get your tickets here.
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