Original Article (Update below)
Chefs Hamish and Rachel were quite happy running their own restaurants and exploring new and exciting food flavours. They were already using the distilling process to create flavoured oils and this naturally led to Hamish wanting to distil gin for personal use. After all, how much time could it take?
Some time after, and with the gin distilling proving to be more interesting and involved than they realised, the couple decided to close their restaurants and focus on gin.
As chefs based in the alpine region of Victoria, you want to make something unique and authentic. Hamish and Rachel decided to play to their strengths – both the location and their skill set. Rather than prioritising ingredients, they focused on flavour; sometimes combining several different variants of an ingredient to create a more “complete” flavour experience.
“It all depends on the season and the flavour you are going for,” says Hamish.” For example, if we are looking for a refreshing lime taste, rather than just using limes, we will start with the flavour we want and then perhaps combine fruit from different regions or perhaps younger fruit to get that outcome.”
It’s this prioritising of flavour that makes their debut release, “Remedy Gin” so wonderful; that, and a label that is decidedly unique.
Meanwhile, the distillery is a delightful surprise for those who choose to venture to the town of Bright. Surrounded by national parks and alpine views that are unmatched anywhere in Australia, the distillery is a cross between an exclusive dining experience, a traditional bar and a café style restaurant. Rachel and Hamish have decided to remain true to their foodie roots and have combined their distillery door with a 20 seat restaurant, catering to those who want an authentic taste of Alpine Australia, or just something delicious, created by a chef, to go with their gin. Also, Hamish and Rachel have opened the space to a café, so from early morning until late at night, there is always something to drink.
“You can come in for a drink, a bite to eat, tasting or just to grab a cup of coffee if you like,” says Hamish. “And you can see the still while you are sitting in the restaurant.”
And will Reed and Co. move into whiskey?
“Everyone asks us that, and I love drinking whiskey,” says Hamish. “But you can’t control the flavour in the same way as you can with gin. As chefs, we want to be combining unique ingredients to give people a taste of the region and of us as distillers. We work hard to produce those flavours; experimenting with different combinations and variations in order to get the desired result. We are a gin distillery through and through.”
And with a new version called “Black Remedy” in the works, we can assume that the bold, and peppery original Remedy will have an aggressive younger sibling.
“We will just focus on the flavours,” says Hamish, not giving anything away just yet.
On release day, we will be waiting at the distillery door with a coffee.
It’s been over 4 years since we first worked with Hamish and Rachel from Reed & Co. Distillery. Some of our longer time members will remember the release of one of our most popular gins of the month ever, Remedy Gin.
While covid has put Reed & Co.’s plans a bit further behind than they’d hoped over the past couple of years, the couple certainly haven’t been standing still. Rachel’s sister Mel has since joined the team to work on all things brand and marketing, something that’s showing in the development of their product branding and positioning.
In addition it’s been interesting for us to see Rachel and Hamish’s food influences continue to develop in their spirits line ups. The obvious Japanese influence in both their choice of botanicals and preparation for distillation means that Reed & Co continue to make complex, balanced and delicious gins.
As chefs, we mentioned before, the couple are incredibly keen to source as many of their ingredients locally to feature in their spirits. A perfect example is the citrus that features heavily in our latest gin of the month, Neo. Yuzu is a uniquely East Asian citrus although only able to be grown in cooler climates. With Reed situated in the alpine region of victoria, they’re lucky to have a local farmer nearby supplying their yuzu!
Even more than sourcing locally produced ingredients, Hamish is producing some himself, including koji. If like us you’re not 100% familiar with Koji, it’s worth a google, where you’ll find far better explanations than we can give you. Suffice it to say, koji is the backbone of an incredible variety of Japanese food and drinks, including sake and shochu.
Overall the thing that shines through most in Reed’s products is a dedication to their craft. Every product continues in their ‘Spirit Lab’ lineup until they’re happy that it’s absolutely where they want it to be. In some cases, such as Neo, this is a multi year process.
When the first edition of this article was written, we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit Hamish and Rachel at their distillery in Bright, Victoria. We’re happy to say we had that chance pre-covid and were not disappointed! Of course in the last couple of years things have changed even more, so it’s about time for us to add it to our trip list again.
We understand their original still ‘Molly’ has been joined by a column still ‘Mabel’, while the distillery space has expanded to keep up with the new products and production requirements. What hasn’t changed is the amazing food (something we enjoyed first hand), superb drinks and warm service.
If you’re booking your next trip locally and are keen to check out one of the best distilleries in the country, Reed & Co. needs to be very high up that list. Thank us later for the recommendation!