On Thursday I’ll be holding an International Women’s Day event at Brogan’s Way Distillery, where Brogan will be a panelist alongside Dervilla McGowan from Anther Spirits and Holly Klintworth from Bass & Flinders. I did this interview with Brogan last year, not long after Brogan’s Way distillery opened, so it seemed like good timing to share this interview.
Tell me a little about the distillery.
Brogan’s Way Distillery is situated in the boutique Food & Drinks making precinct of Richmond. There are a bunch of us creating our quality products nearby like Makers Coffee Roaster, Dukes Street Coffee Roasters, Burnley Brewing, and Phillippa’s Bakery. Mountain Goat Brewing is just over the road and Moon Dog Brewing a stone’s throw north of us in Abbotsford.
How long have you been a distiller?
We started distilling on this site on ‘Mothers Day’ 2018 so I have been officially employed as the distiller since then. But my recipe development work for the products I distill today started just over three years ago working on a lab still as part of my MSc studies in Brewing & Distilling.
Did you always want to work in distilling?
No, I started out wanting to work in hematology, and originally qualified as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. I changed my career path when the opportunity came to get into distilling.
I loved science throughout school; understanding how and why things work, so going into the sciences was a logical move for me. However, I had always wanted to be a chef playing with flavours and creating new things.
Once I realised that distilling is the perfect mix between creating flavours whilst applying the physical and chemical sciences I knew it was the right path for me.
How did you become a distiller?
There wasn’t a defining moment, but I had decided that I wasn’t going to continue with hematology research and study at about the same time as my father decided to quit his job and get into distilling. As a family we have always had a fascination with gin, food, wine, beer so I joined forces with my father and we started the journey together from scratch.
What is the best thing about your job?
There are two things that tie for being the best:
Creating new products and seeing people enjoy them here in the distillery bar or seeing photos of people drinking them at home with friends, it’s really special.
The second would be becoming a part of such a welcoming and supportive community. The craft distilling community in Australia and also the world, is such an amazing bunch of talented, friendly and helpful people all willing to share and inspire each other, it is truly an amazing environment.
What is the most challenging thing about distilling gin?
Introducing new products to people that I have put so much time into, is something I find incredibly daunting and stressful. It is not my comfort zone, but I do like watching them interact with the gins. The truth is I am most comfortable creating, but I understand that craft is also about the people who make the products and I am working on that side of things.
How did your choose which botanicals to use?
I have always been fascinated by flavours and how they interact. So it is was a natural progression to do my masters project on how native Australian botanicals can be used in gin. Through my studies I learnt a lot about the chemical make-up of many of them and this helped me choose complimentary native and traditional botanicals and also with getting the ratios right to achieve the flavor profiles I want.
Both myself and my father have always been foodies so are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to use different ingredients in cooking, and making gin is no different. The second we come across something different and exciting, we try to find a way to distill it!
Who/what inspires you?
We have met so many incredible and inspirational people in the industry over the last 3 years, all of whom have been incredibly influential to us along our journey. But really it is my Mum (Gilly – whom I named my still after). She is my biggest inspiration, the human embodiment of ‘The little engine that could’ and is truly incredible.
Your favourite gin cocktail and why?
It’s a tough tie between a Martini and a Negroni.
Gin and vermouth have always been best friends, so these two classics have always been my go-to.
Which are your favourite bars (anywhere in the world).
That’s so tricky. I don’t have a favorite in Melbourne … yet… so many good ones.
When I visited Edinburgh I went to a really fantastic speakeasy style bar called ‘The Last Word Saloon‘ which was fantastic, amazing cocktails and beautiful décor.
Another favourite of mine in Auckland would be ‘Caretaker’.
We have a few things up our sleeves for the near future and we will be sure to let you know when we are ready to make some noise.
Brogan’s Way distillery is open:
Wednesday 5pm to 10 pm
Friday 5pm to 11pm
Saturday 3:30pm to 11pm
Sunday 2:00pm to 7pm
You can purchase takeaway bottle sales Monday to Friday between 1pm and 5pm.