The Story Behind Darby-Norris Distillery

The Story Behind Darby-Norris Distillery
June 4, 2019 Gin Lane

Darby-Norris Distillery is the combined effort of two couples Liane and Jeff as well as daughter Paige and son in law Phil.

Their past skills and experience have all come in handy in setting up the distillery and has been a project years in the dreaming, planning and execution.

Keeping everything on track in the office is Liane. Coming from a background in people leadership, Liane is more than comfortable staying out of the distillery when possible and ensuring the smooth running of the business aspects of this family business.

Husband Jeff’s trade as a welder fabricator came in handy in building their own still (and future stills) on site. Not many distilleries can say that! Add to that Jeff’s other trade as an arborist, he brought some much valued botanical knowledge to the table also.

Mum of four Paige is very much a distiller in training, spending a significant amount of time in the distillery on production of Darby-Norris’ product range. Her husband Phil is a truck driver full time and co-distiller with Jeff in his down time.

As a home brewer for many years, there was always a part of him that had an interest in creating his own booze. When Phil joined the family, he swiftly joined Jeff in imagining a time when they could begin their own distillery and expand into the spirits side of things.

If things weren’t interesting enough in the Darby-Norris orbit, here’s where they take a step off into the unknown. Around 7 years ago Liane and Jeff decided their hometown of Sydney wasn’t the place for them any more. Like any normal couple making a decision to uproot their lives and move to another part of the country, they spent months planning and researching the options, lining up a new home….we’ll stop there.

In fact they pretty much pulled a map out, took a look at some of the cooler climates available in Australia and stuck a pin somewhere that looked good to them. Locating a rental property over the internet, they proceeded to pack up their home and drive to their new home, sight unseen, to begin their new life.

It wasn’t long before Paige and Phil chose to join them and plans for the dream distillery began to take shape. Fast forwarding a few steps and Jeff and Phil spent some time with Stephen Dobson learning the craft of distilling with him as their mentor (not a bad choice in our book). It’s a familiar story in Australian craft distilling and we certainly couldn’t see the breadth and quality of distilling we have, without this superb, collaborative spirit.

Having secured some land near the mouth of the Tamar river in Northern Tasmania, Jeff and Liane proceed to conduct a 7 month ‘research’ trip around world, visiting some of the hot spots of world distilling. Scotland, Ireland and the US all received visits, while Phil was left building the distillery back home.

After a few hiccups and delays due to bad weather (in Northern Tasmania?!), Darby Norris was ready to open for production. Like many craft distilleries, Darby-Norris is working on a full range of spirits production in both white spirits and dark. Their Valley gin which you’ll be enjoying is a fantastic first release, with an award winning Navy Strength in the line up also. Lime, Blueberry and ‘Tamar’ vodka round out the white spirits range currently. We’re reliably informed experimentation on other gins is in progress.

Here’s to the Darby-Norris family and their continued growth and success, it’s looking good so far!

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