Years of dreaming and a trip to the Apple Isle inspired Kylie Sepos to pursue a new career in the craft of distilling.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself, your farm and the distillery.
It was on a trip to Tasmania four years ago, while enjoying the amazing artisan producers and craft distilleries that the Apple Isle has to offer, that I realised this was exactly what I had been searching for. Until recently, I worked for 19 years in the corporate world, but after four years of dreaming, research and hard work, we’ve finally launched our first batch of hand-crafted Autumn Dry Gin.
Our distillery is located on our farm in Allworth, which is not too far along The Bucketts Way turn-off from the Pacific Highway. Our family-owned farm focuses on free-range eggs and cattle and is run by my husband, Gavin Sepos. A farm, two kids and a distillery definitely keeps us busy.
To build a distillery is a tremendous feat. Was this always a passion of yours; what sparked the idea? What inspires someone to become a craft distiller?
Living in the country and from third generation farmers, we were inspired to share our love of country life and our passion for creating something unique. I wanted to be one of those lucky people who get to pursue their passion, and craft distilling seemed the perfect fit.
The concept of the Farmer’s Wife Distillery was formed sharing a fine gin with friends. I knew it had to incorporate all of my passions: I wanted to create something that encompassed my love for growing food and gardening, my love of family, friends and community, and the idea of mastering different flavours to produce something unique and special.
The sense of a place to gather had to be as important as the creation. We are delighted to have our friends join us on our journey as we build and grow a home for the Farmer’s Wife spirits and most importantly, to be inspired by the magic of craft distilling. So here we are at the start of a new chapter in our families’ lives, and we are excited to see where it takes us!
You describe gin as your drink of choice. How did you go from drinking it to producing it?
I’ve always enjoyed the fact that gin can be so different. I’ve always been on the search for the perfect gin. I read somewhere that there is a gin for everyone, but not every gin is for everyone … I wanted to create my perfect gin.
Gin can be so unique, because you’re dealing with a range of natural botanicals; each one in different amounts and in a different combination can completely change the flavour of the gin. It took a lot of trials, recipe changes and tweaking – not to mention the tasting. I never had trouble finding friends to help with the tasting.
Tell us a bit about the product and the process. Where do you get your ingredients from? Is it all local?
We are committed to making gin the way gin used to be made, by a one shot distillation in a traditional copper pot still. Our beautiful still was commissioned to Peter Bailey of Hobart, Tasmania and was precariously road tripped home by the farmer and myself.
Copper is essential to the distillation process, as the chemical reaction results in a softer and smoother spirit. Our botanicals are a mixture of traditional gin botanicals which we import from the UK, Australian citrus and Australian native botanicals, some of which we grow and the rest we source from a variety of places, all as local as possible.
Our signature botanical is our Australian Stingless Bee sugar bag honey, which is supplied by our friends at the Australian Native Bee Company. We have our own hives, but do not produce as much as we need just yet.
I rest our botanicals on the finest quality, neutral Australian sugar cane spirit. This spirit provides a clean, blank canvas upon which I can weave my botanical magic. We keep only the very hearts of the spirit and then blend it with purified rainwater, harvested from the farm.
Why do you think gin and craft distilleries have become so popular?
I think that there is growing movement of people wanting to know where their food and drink come from, how it’s made, and what the ingredients are. There is also an amazing uprise of people supporting local artisan and craft producers. All of these things have not only seen an increase in the growth of craft distilleries, but artisan and craft producers across the board. There have also been laws changed in recent history that have allowed small distilleries to emerge.
You have a background in science; how has this helped you?
My university science studies have definitely made me more confident in the process and allowed me to learn quickly, especially from texts, as I was familiar with much of the terminology and the basic chemistry behind fermentation and distillation.
Other than that, it has really been a lot of reading, research and asking questions. The craft spirits industry is such a supportive and collaborative one, which is quite unique. I have been very lucky to have been supported by some other talented distillers I can now call friends.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to make gin?
First, decide why you want to do it? Is it just for yourself? There are some fabulous distilleries offering special classes where you can choose your botanicals and make your own gin to take home. It’s a lot of fun.
If you’re more serious, then the first thing you should do is to speak to someone in the industry to get a very realistic idea of what you’re looking at when starting up.
Where do you see The Farmer’s Wife Distillery in five years’ time?
Our dream is to build a beautiful, big new home for the Farmer’s Wife Distillery on the farm not far from where we are now. This contemporary style barn will house a cellar door for tastings, a café and a permaculture garden. We also have plans to expand our range of gins with some other seasonal releases, and my other favourite drop, whiskey, is also on the list!
Our aim is to have a place where people can enjoy visiting and hopefully, as we were, be inspired by the magic of craft distilling!
Where can we sample your fine spirit?
We would love to show you around our distillery and are open to visitors for tastings by appointment. Just complete the Booking Form on our website: farmerswifedistillery.com.au or contact Kylie on 0473 001 033. Alternatively, we attend various events with our mobile gin bar, all of which you will find on our website, along with our list of current stockists.
Interview: Bronwyn Davis.