The Story Behind Diviners Distillery

The Story Behind Diviners Distillery
December 1, 2020 Gin Lane

Diviners Distillery aren’t your average craft gin producers. Not only do they make their spirits in Queensland’s premier wine region – the Granite Belt, but they do so using a cold distillation process rather than the traditional high heat distilling method – more on that later.

Launching only 6 months ago, Diviners might be new kids on the block but they’ve grabbed our attention with their outstanding introductory gins, Apparition and Outlier.

We chatted to founder and co-owner, Frank Tomlinson, who told us that he drew inspiration from a chance meeting with renowned mixologist Matt Whiley, owner of Scout Sydney and one of the world’s best bars, Scout London.

“A few years ago my wife and I were visiting our son in London and we went to a bar called Peg and Patriot which was owned by Matt,” says Frank. “Matt was making gin in his bar and when I tasted it I thought it was just so beautifully clean.”

Striking up a conversation, Frank discovered the clean-tasting, small batch gins were produced using a Rotavap – a rotary vacuum evaporator. As a retired neurosurgeon with a PhD in biochemistry, the science of distilling proved appealing. As and already ‘enthusiastic consumer’ (as Frank puts it), Frank decided to give gin production a whirl himself.

Returning to Australia Frank purchased a Rotavap and sought the expertise of some friends at Bent Road Winery – which would later become home to Diviners’ distillery.

Including Frank, the team at Diviners consists of winery owners, Robert Richter and Glen Robert, along with Bent Road Winery’s assistant winemaker, Andrew Scott. After a period testing out small batches – which included some hands-on assistance and guidance by Matt Whylie himself, the wheels of the operation started turning.

“After Frank invited Matt out to Australia, he spent about 6 days giving us a crash course in mixing gin and operating the Rotavap,” says Diviners’ distiller, Andrew Scott. “We all sat down brainstorming about the type gin we wanted to create. There were a lot of differing ideas but we reached a starting point when I thought back to an essay I’d written about the gin renaissance – at the history of the gin explosion. That’s when I had the idea to create two different flavour profiles – an old school and a new school gin.”

The old and new-school gins – Apparition and Outlier – are our November and December gins of the month respectively. Apparition features the traditional juniper forward woody flavour, and Outlier bright, bold citruses required for a modern palate.

As for what’s involved with the Rotavap’s cold distilling process – Andrew told us more. “The rotary vacuum evaporator allows us to boil botanicals at a lower temperature than the traditional high temperature method,” says Andrew. “Heat causes faster and greater chemical reactions so the great thing about distilling cold is the high-fidelity representation of flavours that you get, because they’re not altered as much as they are at high heat, so it’s like the opposite of a pressure cooker.”

Diviners’ also say the subtle process of cold distilling helps ensure flavours aren’t compromised when increasing the spirits’ strength. With its 46% ABV, Outlier’s citrus driven flavours retain presence without being overpowered by its increased ethanol.

What we love about Diviners is the amount of thought that’s gone into the creation of their product – and by saying this we’re not just talking about what’s inside the bottle.

Faceted so that light can shine through when placed on a bar, the bottle is also shaped so that it’s easy for a bartender to hold when pouring its contents into a glass.

Going further still, Diviners enlisted the talents of Seattle based artist, Olivia Knapp, whose intricate illustrative artwork – influenced by scientific specimens from the 16th to 18th centuries (including Knapp’s trademark eyeballs) – have been printed onto the bottle’s glass and labels to reveal different layers. Frank tells us it’s a nod to the idea that Surrealism can be found within gin.

“Duchamp said that the Surrealist experience of art is not over until you view the art and in the same way we believe that the journey of gin is not over until you take a sip of that gin,” says Frank.

We’ll tell you exactly how you can take a sip of Apparition and Outlier in our How to Drink articles. Here’s to continuing Diviners’ gin journey – we’d agree it’s a work of art!

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