The story behind Devils Thumb Distillery

The story behind Devils Thumb Distillery
March 20, 2022 Gin Lane

There’s an understanding in business that times of strong adversity can result in spikes in innovation and creativity. It seems we’re lucky to see this happening in the gin industry.

Several of our gins over the past couple of years were born in lockdowns and our latest is no exception. We spoke to Mark, 1/3 of the trio behind Devils Thumb Distillery about their Rainforest Gin and all things distilling in Port Douglas.

While the idea of a distillery had been on the cards for some time, it was primarily with the view towards producing rum. Not such a surprise being base in Far North Queensland. Lockdowns related to covid prompted the three friends to dust off some plans they’d begun in 2017 and begin building their own still to kick into production.

As so often happens, the plan was to make gin, while they began laying down rum for the necessary 2 year (plus) ageing period. Like some before them, they turned out to be pretty damn good at the gin thing and some recent big ticket international award wins to prove it.

Mark’s background in water and chemistry lent him some handy experience when it came to distillation. He’s the first to admit that there was a steep learning curve all the same and the rainforest gin, in particular, proved his biggest challenge.

The team were keen to ensure they used as much locally sourced product in their gins as possible. Being situated near the Daintree rainforest inspired them in their choices, as well as the water for their production. Mark also owns a 40 acre farm in Julatten inland from Port Douglas on the tablelands, ideal growing for some of their botanicals including bush lemon and red finger lime among others.

As we mentioned earlier Mark set about building the still, sourcing items from some unlikely sources. Their boiler for instance is and old jam mixing tank, repurposed twice over, most recently from a local brewery. Mark admits it’s not as pretty as some stills, but functionality and full control over the distilling process was his main aim.

He’s also been keen to experiment with different methods of the distillation process as well as the stages in those methods. Being able to combine processes he credits with being the key reason they’re able to produce such great gins.

Devils Thumb Distillery is only a year old and producing three main gins in addition to a cane spirit and rum for ageing. On the gin front, in addition to the Rainforest Gin we selected, is a Signature Dry Gin and a Navy Strength Gin.

Their Navy Strength gin joined some illustrious company at the World Gin Awards by taking out World’s Best Navy Gin. Regardless of the competition they were up against (strong, very strong), this was a hugely impressive result and will no doubt see a huge uptick in demand and recognition for such a young distillery.

Mark’s not resting on this win and in fact was pretty shocked to even find they’d won such a huge award. We’ve been excited to hear of a collab gin that’s due to come to market very shortly, produced with a hatted chef and featuring some super Asian flavours. We’re looking forward to checking this one out, knowing Mark couldn’t be happier with how it’s come out.

If like many you’re finding yourself on holiday locally for some time to come, Port Douglas sounds like a worthy destination. Our friends at Wolf Lane may be on your way up and are well worth stopping in on also. The plan, as soon as staffing permits, at Devils Thumb is for their cellar door to be open 7 days a week. For the time being it’s 3 days, but there’s obviously more than enough in the area to keep you occupied outside those days!

Who knows, you may just find us wandering through the Daintree sipping on an appropriately named Rainforest gin!


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