The Story Behind Granddad Jacks Distillery

The Story Behind Granddad Jacks Distillery
August 3, 2019 Gin Lane

Granddad Jacks is the Gold Coast’s first Gin & Whisky distillery  and within its opening year has created a lot of history. The family owned and operated business has attracted attention across Australia and internationally for its award winning gins and vodka, and whiskies are bedded down for release in the future.

The distillery is named for owners David (father) and Luke (son) Ridden’s grandfather and great grandfather…Granddad Jack. It’s a telling tale and we won’t do a better job than they do. We highly recommend you check it out for some additional reading:

https://www.granddadjacks.com/pages/history

While the vision was a tribute for Granddad Jack, it really began in 2017 when Luke was finishing up a mechanics apprenticeship. Working on race cars amongst others seems appropriate living on the Gold Coast, with the V8s and previously Indy Car being highlights of the event calendar. At the same time dad David was operating a mobile bar, catering to the V8s and other events.

In a familiar, retirement leads to making good booze story, David had sold his business and was planning on enjoying long days in the surf. Like many others, this wasn’t quite enough to satisfy David. With the legacy for Granddad Jack in mind and having identified an opportunity to be first on the Gold Coast with a Gin & Whisky distillery , father and son set out to make the dream a reality.

The equally familiar ‘research’ trip overseas, this time led them to San Diego in the US and an encounter with Black Heffernan at Old Harbour distillery. Looking to bring in some expertise in the first instance David and Luke invited Blake to work with them on launching their initial products and mentor Luke in the fine arts of distilling.

Blake duly agreed and spent a number of weeks on the Coast, helping develop the line up of gins and first whisky runs.

Greenhouse gin

As beachside a gin as you could want – dialled down juniper leads into a fresh tasting combination of cucumber, grapefruit peel, rosehip and lemon myrtle, all distilled to a low key abv of 37 per cent, perfect for a summer afternoon.

Two Pencils

The all juniper expression, an instant London Dry classic. Smooth and balanced through the palette, this gin fits every occasion with class. This award-winning gin is one for the ages.

65 Miles

The thumping navy strength for the gin connoisseur. Huge spice hit up front, bold and brash, this belter is the polarising giant in the collection. If you’re craving a gin tonic with some oomph, then load up the glass with ice, splash some 65 Miles over it and pour in the tonic. Prepare to be dazzled!

The success of Granddad Jacks is a testimony to the Ridden family, who have designed a place to not only honour their heritage, but also to create a new legacy for the family. In their first year it has fast become a must-see destination – a trip to the Gold Coast would not be complete without a tour of this distillery.

Unfortunately craft distilling is rarely smooth sailing as the guys are currently finding out. With their permission we’re sharing some of the challenges they’re facing and will be enlisting your help in ensuring they make it through what’s proving to be a rough patch.

Thanks to some archaic and strange liquor licencing laws in Qld, paired with some poor advice from so called industry experts, Granddad Jacks needs to ramp up their product sales through new distribution channels fairly rapidly.

In most states craft distilleries rightly rely on their local community and visitors to their distilleries to spread the word and make purchases of their product. Being located in one of the tourism capitals of Australia should work perfectly for Granddad Jacks right?? Unfortunately not, those strange licencing laws state that only 2.5% of the distilleries total sales can come from direct sales to visitors at the distillery. The rest of their sales must come from wholesale sales to places such as bars and bottle shops.

Take it from people who’ve been around the industry a bit…this is an incredibly tough ask..if not almost impossible. The wholesale distribution market is, despite some of our best efforts, truly dominated by the big alcohol companies. We’ve quoted this stat more times than we can count…less than 2.5% (being generous) of spirits consumed in Australia, are made in Australia. The majority of the rest are sold by a relatively small number of players with incredibly deep pockets. It’s what makes businesses like ours, like Nip of Courage (the only specialist distributor of Australian spirits), Bad Frankies (Melbourne bar featuring only Australian spirits) and Dulcies (new bar in Sydney featuring only Australian spirits) incredibly important to the industry.

Granddad Jacks is in danger of being unable to meet their licencing obligations, not through a lack of will or effort, but because the rules unfairly favour big businesses who are incredibly hard to compete with.

What can you do?

Firstly just by being a member of Gin Lane, you’re already helping far more than you can know. Our order with each and every craft distillery is a huge boost to their business. We’re currently working on ways we can add more to our service and the benefit we bring to the local industry.

Secondly…keep helping to spread the word. Ask your friends to choose more Australian products when they’re in a bar or bottle shop. The difference in price isn’t so great and you and they know they’ll be getting some of the finest booze on offer anywhere in the world.

Finally if you’re so inclined and especially based in QLD (or know someone who is), send a letter, make a phone call, tweet or message QLD state government MPs about this issue.

As responsible purveyors of alcohol, we know the dangers associated with the liquor industry. We also know that the quality and price point of craft spirits means it’s the least likely problem area.

Craft producers are small businesses, trying to have a go and operate in a way which doesn’t actively restrict their ability to operate.

We thank you and Granddad Jacks like many other craft distilleries thank you for supporting the industry in any way you can.

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