Some people are lucky enough to work where their passion lies, but it’s not every day they truly get to explore it.
Many journalists dream of one day writing that bestselling novel, many graphic designers dream of becoming fully fledged artists and for Bright based distillers, Hamish Nugent and Rachel Reed, their labour of love is Spirit Lab.
Freshly released in July, Spirit Lab is a series of gin-based spirits that draw from the couple’s home in North East Victoria in every way – from ingredients they use to the people and businesses they’ve collaborated with.
The series (for now – watch this space!) includes a Coffee Liqueur – created with Sixpence Coffee, Wild Blackberry gin liqueur – created with “Mark The Farmer”, and Gin & Juice – created with winemaker Jo Marsh of Billy Buttons Wines.
Nugent and Reed have lived much of their professional lives as highly successful, locally loved chefs, having owned Tsubo in Dinner Plain and Tani Eat + Drink in Bright. But in 2017 they became full time distillers, birthing the brand Remedy Gin under Reed & Co Distillery.
The volatile mix of busy, creative minds and a seemingly endless supply of passion was bound to spill over somewhere, and here we are.
“In a nutshell, it’s a space where we can be more creative – more of an outlet to use different botanicals and distillation processes that I wouldn’t use on an everyday level,” Nugent said.
“There’s been a lot of lab work and R&D, so it gives our customers a thought as to what’s happening behind the scenes. A lot of people think we just make Remedy all day, but really we do hundreds of other distillations that never see the light of day, so it’s an outlet for that.”
Reed & Co Distillery have invested in new technology and (unsurprisingly) stepped outside the square to explore more modern techniques, the likes of which Australia has not seen before.
“We’ve always been interested in cold distillation from back in the days when we were working in kitchens,” Nugent said.
“We still use a traditional Kovodel copper pot still, but we have also put in a 50L lab still, so it means we can distil at 30 degrees Celsius, as opposed to 80. This piece of equipment is normally used in pharmaceuticals but we’re using it for oil extraction. For example, out of that unit we can get a really clean citrus quality, as opposed to the copper still which will give us more cooked, lemon tart flavours.”
Nugent and Reed promise there will be more to come from Spirit Lab, but you may want to get in quick as some lines are already marked limited edition.
“The blackberries are a one off, we’ll never do it again,” Nugent said.
“It’s not feasible to do it the way we have on a commercial scale. It’s also really hard to get high volumes of wild blackberries – there’s just under a kilo of wild blackberries per bottle. As we say in the tasting notes – copious amounts!”
If you’re keen to try Reed & Co Distillery’s latest creation the best way is to visit the distillery door located at 15 Wills Street, Bright, where you can enjoy Spirit Lab the way it was intended – in a cocktail! A limited number of bottles will also be available through Nip Of Courage.