Have you ever been somewhere and loved it so much you wish you could bottle the very thing that makes it special? Well the couple behind our Gin of the Month did precisely that! And while many winemakers or distillers attempt to capture the essence of a region, we think there’s not many who’ve done so quite as thoughtfully as husband and wife team, Andrew and Trish Davidson.
With rich red earth and turquoise blue ocean, Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region has a beauty and magnetism about it that attracts people from all over the globe. And Andrew and Trish were no exception. When they first visited Broome after Andrew retired from his job as a medic, they fell in love with its warmth and lifestyle.
“We found there was nothing better at the end of a balmy day than unwinding with a good gin,” says Andrew. “After taking it easy for a bit we thought, what next? And that’s when the idea of distilling our own came to us. It was something that started off as a dream but soon became a reality.”
Capturing the Spirit of the Kimberley
“The tropics are the perfect place for gin,” says Trish. “You only have to go back to the invention of the Gin and Tonic when the British Army used the quinine contained in tonic to fight off malaria during their time in parts of Asia.”
But Trish tells us it wasn’t just the Kimberley climate that inspired the flavour of their spirits, but also its ancient landscape and rich history.
“We work closely with Indigenous suppliers, such as Patricia Mamanyjun Torres of Mayi Harvests because we want to pay respect to the area’s Indigenous origins,” says Trish. “We also source ingredients like mango and tamarind which was introduced to Broome’s shores by pearlers and seafaring Indonesian traders, to reflect the town’s rich history and multicultural influence.”
Capturing and storing monsoonal rain over the wet summer months, Andrew and Trish had the idea to use rainwater in the distilling process, combining it with local native botanicals such as gabiny (Kakadu plum), white berry bush and varieties of myrtle.
“The monsoonal rain here has a purity and freshness about it that reflects smoothly on the palate,” says Trish.
Acting as the official ‘taste-tester’ during Andrew’s experimentation period of ‘backyard distilling’, Trish says she would use a blindfold to help her really concentrate on different flavours.
After much trial and error, testing out different ingredients and recipes in the lab, they perfected their product, deciding on three spirits that now make up Moontide’s short but sweet range; White Pearl Gin, Black Pearl Aniseed Spirit, and Roebuck Bay Bitters.
Opening in July last year, Moontide is not only one of the most isolated distilleries in the country, it’s also the Kimberley’s first producer of gin. And we just love the quirkiness of its location!
Resting in the red dirt of Broome’s Light Industrial Area known as ‘Blue Haze’ to the north of famous Cable Beach, the distillery is a welcome find, with a lot of visitors not expecting to discover a sophisticated set up that wouldn’t look out of place in the Inner West of Sydney!
A Still Named Bill
While outside there’s stylish seating, inside Moontide you’ll find its contemporary cellar door where visitors can see and smell local ingredients that go into the spirits and then of course, sample the range. To the back is the large shed-like space where Andrew concocts the goods.
Named in honour of Andrew’s late father – an ex-naval surgeon who was also part-owner in a Kimberley cattle station, ‘Bill’ is the name of Moontide’s computerised iStill, imported from the Netherlands.
‘‘‘Bill’ is very efficient and great at making gin. He’s also beautifully insulated. Reducing heat within our distillery means improved working conditions in the tropical humidity,” says Andrew.
Andrew tells us ‘Bill’ also works well in isolation. After combining ingredients in just the right measures, he says he can walk away with confidence, knowing that ‘Bill’ will get in touch via an alert to his phone if anything needs his attention.
While Moontide may be removed in terms of kilometres, we think this boutique craft distiller is one to watch as they find their way onto the shelves of stockists and into the glasses of gin lovers around the country. And with isolation inspiring a gin this good, we think it’s certainly a case of distance making the heart grow fonder!