It’s a pretty standard story.
Warren, a banker from Sydney was travelling around Australia with his partner Catie, and they popped into Rockhampton to visit Catie’s parents and purchased an iconic pub.
Oh, also the pub was originally built in 1881, and needed renovations which were, in Warren’s own words, “a pandora’s box of problems.”. Warren is a Queensland local and passionate about rum, because you know…Rockhampton.
Fortunately, Warren and Catie managed to find another couple just as crazy as them.
Meet Andy and Sam.
Rocky, of course, is rum country. They drink it more than any other spirit, all local sports teams are sponsored by rum companies and “Rum” is the third most popular baby name. That last one probably isn’t true, but rum is undeniably the number one spirit in the region.
So Andy, Warren, Sam and Catie, now proud owners of Saleyards Distillery, decided to distill gin.
Luckily, it’s an impressive gin, and it’s true to the local area as Andy explained to us.
“We spent six months working on the flavour. We wanted something that evoked warm Australian afternoons and the wonderful feeling of having a refreshing gin and tonic in the sun. For that, we needed something fruit-forward and easy to drink.”
“We use a thumper keg,” Warren added. “These are commonly used in bourbon and rum distilling, but it’s a bit unusual for gin. It basically means that the finer flavours come through more clearly which really helps in bringing out the fruit driven taste we were going for.”
The thumper keg when combined with the copper pot still, produces something that is refreshing and uniquely Australian with grapefruit, lemon myrtle and limes offering a wonderful citrus burst. ‘Billy Goats Gin’ is named for Saleyards’ take on the story of the Billy Goats Gruff – three billy goats attempt to cross a river are stopped by a troll. In this version, the troll is offered some gin and then forgets all about the goats.
We love a happy ending.
Meanwhile, Saleyards distillery itself is being well received in Rockhampton. Now fully renovated and with a café, accommodation and distillery tours available, the locals are embracing the return of the iconic location.
“We love being able to show people around the place,” says Andy. “Warren grew up here and we have a certain sense of obligation to the community and we want to make sure we honour that. After all, we bought a pub that’s been around for over 130 years, so it’s part of Rockhampton at a really meaningful level.”
As for the future, Saleyards already has a superb spiced rum, distilled with Central Queensland molasses. In addition, there will be more gin offerings to come. They aim to add another two gins; a more traditional gin and one that is currently being barrel aged.
We’ll can’t wait to try them both…with a rum on the side.”