The Story Behind Otter Craft Distilling

The Story Behind Otter Craft Distilling
March 29, 2021 Gin Lane

It’s fair to say when it comes to producing their first gin, distillers can get a little OCD about the whole process – but that’s not a bad thing in this industry!

Such was the case for Sydney based brother and sister team, Eduard and Julie Otter from Otter Craft Distilling (OCD). Ed kicked off his career in hospitality, working his way from behind the bar all the way up to the corporate side of things. Meanwhile Julie built a successful career in brand management, leading to roles as head of Peter Alexander and CEO of Sass and Bide.

Wanting the freedom to explore more of their creative sides, and inspired by Ed’s passion for whiskey, the idea to form OCD began with a hands-on distilling project in the garage beneath Ed’s house.

After several years of experimentation, OCD  officially launched in 2019. Their range of single malt whiskies and vodka varieties have already won multiple awards in 2020 at the Australian International Spirit Awards.

Luckily for us, they set up shop just down the road in St Peters. It’s given us a good excuse over the last few years to pop by for a chat about what they’re up to, and of course, a cheeky tasting!

What we’ve discovered during that time and what we’re really impressed with here at Gin Lane, is the pair’s ability to produce a product that’s authentic on so many levels.

Ed and Julie tell us without hesitation that the key rests in sustainability and traceability, with ingredients that are as ethically and locally sourced as possible.

“We focus on longevity and innovation, respect and creativity in all our ingredients. This is reflected in the singularity of all OCD spirits,” Julie says.

Using a 70L column still, employing mash by hand and formulated processes, Ed distils most of OCD ’s spirits using the same grain, sourced and malted from Voyager malts in the Riverina area of NSW.

“It’s really important for us to know where everything is coming from. We pay fair trade to our farmers and suppliers, all of whom we know and have developed relationships with,” Julie says. “Our vodka is a true single malt, with its grain being the same as the one in our whiskey.”

And now with the production and launch of their first gin, Mary St, the duo say it’s equally important to get the balance right.

“When I finish making a batch of our gin, I want to make sure I can taste each of the botanicals but I also want to make sure that I’m getting those extra layers, those divisions and that they’re all working harmoniously together,” Ed says.

With Mary St intended as a gin for everyone, it only seemed right during the decision- making process to call upon the local community for feedback. And being the good neighbours that we are, we were there in no time to help give our feedback on that front!

“It definitely helped during the testing process that we live in the inner West, Sydney’s brewing and distilling central,” Julie says.

Inviting people into the distillery during the testing process, they say they knew they had it right when they could see the positive reaction on someone’s face. “We were going for that ‘love at first sip’ moment,” Julie says. “The aim was to have an everyday gin that people can come back to but it also had to reflect our ethos.”

With a total of 8 organic botanicals, Mary St’s main flavour profile is comprised of a healthy hit of pine-flavoured juniper, balanced with the spiciness of cinnamon, the citrus of coriander and the floral notes of elderflower.

To sum it up we’re describing it as a no nonsense traditional Sydney Dry that’s incredibly drinkable. We’re sure you’re going to love it and keep coming back for more, just as much as we do!

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