Let’s begin by clarifying the name of our Distillery of the month.
What was The Crafty Botanist Distillery has now been rebranded to AmberChes (as in chess) Spirits. If you know your gin it probably doesn’t take too long to work out which large international distillery came knocking to demand this change in name.
The new name is inspired by the two Chesters at the distillery, the dog and the still. We’re told AmberChes is part of family dog Chester’s pedigree name and is a worthy source for the new brand name.
As a supporter of craft producers, let’s just say we take a pretty dim view of this kind of action. Particularly so in the middle of some of the toughest trading conditions imaginable for small businesses. To say we admire the family behind our latest gin of the month, as well as the many other small producers pushing through this period is an understatement!
With that said, let’s introduce you to the family in question. Distiller Alicia (possibly the youngest distiller in the country currently at 24) is joined by parents Heather and Dean, as well as sister Lauren. Let’s not forget about family dog Chester, more on him shortly.
The family is a truly global family, thanks largely to Dean’s career in the oil and gas industry, which has seen the family move between the UK, the Middle East and eventually to Perth. The UK was deemed to cold to move back to after acclimatising to the heat of Qatar, something we can personally appreciate!
The pandemic threw into disarray various plans for the family. Alicia herself was in the middle of a masters degree in the UK when covid hit. Her uni closed down and she had a weeks notice to relocate back to Australia to ride things out.
Fortunately for us, Alicia’s area of study was in the conversion of whey (a dairy by product) to ethanol. Studying in the ‘home’ of gin meant this inevitably lead to some additional study and understanding of gin production. While completing her studies back here in WA, Alicia found herself visiting local distilleries, which further piqued her interest in the distilling side.
The pandemic meant that both Alicia and dad Dean had limited opportunities to secure their ideal jobs. They chatted things over and decided it would be a fun experience to set up their own distillery. While Alicia developed the recipes that evolved into their three core gins, the rest of the family have played key roles in making things happen.
Alicia and Dean distil the gins together. Mum Heather, a corporate solicitor, finds herself managing various aspects of the business from markets, to bottling and everything in between. Sisters Alicia and Lauren share much of the marketing responsibilities, Lauren from far away in the UK, where she’s eagerly waiting to kick off a new job with the McLaren Formula 1 team.
We’re told that with her masters in mechatronics, Lauren’s also being tasked with automating as much of the distillation process as possible. We’re not sure there’s much this family can’t do and we’re just glad for our sakes that they turned their formidable skills and experience to producing some fantastic gins.
The future is bright for the family and AmberChes Spirits. Growing the sales side of the distillery, increasing production and capacity and a potential move to a new facility at the right time are top of the to do list. While you won’t be able to visit a cellar door until that move happens, if you’re in the area post lockdown, you’ll find 1 or more of the family at various markets around Perth.
While we’ve selected their orange infusion gin as our gin of the month, Alicia has created two other gins which we highly recommend you get your hands on. The botanical gin is their more ‘traditional’ style of gin, while the line up is rounded out by their lovely pink raspberry infusion gin.
Read on for more details on the Orange Infusion gin in our How to Drink article.