Rowland Short, Settlers Spirits distiller spent much of his adult life on the ocean as a master mariner. Born and bred in Adelaide, Rowland was no stranger to the ‘drinks business’ given it’s been the family business for several generations.
For Rowland though, the sea was too strong a call and he eventually gave into it and the adventure it offered. Rowland and wife Shelley, also a keen sailor, shared a long standing dream of sailing the world in their own yacht. Having built their 12 metre yacht, they set off on a three year adventure. Rowland tells us while they didn’t actually circumnavigate the world, they did travel a distance that was equivalent to 1.5 times around the globe!
Like any good mariner, gin was pretty much in Rowland’s blood (so to speak) and he’d been making gin for ‘personal consumption’ years before Settlers became a reality. Needless to say a key piece of ‘baggage’ on their trip was 50 litres of house made gin to see them through. Most of this gin was for ‘medicinal purposes’ with Rowland and Shelley followed the example of generations of mariners before them. We’re told the gin was of course largely for mixing gin and tonics (with lime) to ‘ward off scurvy and malaria.’
Three years of sailing the world came to an end and for Rowland retirement beckoned. As you can see from his life until this point though, Rowland isn’t one to let boredom set in. The solution was to buy a vineyard in McLaren Vale and set about making wine. Again, restless as he is, Rowland saw the potential for producing his own grape spirit from the grapes grown on his land and turned his time towards gin distilling around 5 years ago.
The first of Rowland’s efforts and largely a commercially tweaked version of the gin he’d been making for years previously, is our April gin of the month, the Rare Dry.
Settlers employ a 500 litre copper pot still called Heather Primrose named after Rowland’s mother in law. Fitted with a whisky helmet (yes he makes whisky too!), the still also features a column (reflux) still and botanical basket, giving Rowland full control of the distilling process.
Settlers take the laborious and time consuming path of producing their own neutral grape spirit. Botanicals are individually distilled and blended utilising the skills of the winemaker to produce bright, crisp and defined flavour palates in each of their gins. When we say each of their gins, we’re talking about a range of gins that is currently 11 strong! Hearing Rowlands story I guess it’s no surprise that he couldn’t settle on a range of just a few gins, this is clearly a person who loves to invest his time and energy constantly moving forward and pushing new boundaries.
Aren’t we glad he has as well, from the original rare dry and the oak aged gin based on it, to Yuzu, coriander leaf and pomegranate gins, Settlers seem to have it all. Clearly not all of these flavours will be for everyone, but we’re pretty sure everyone will find something to love in the range. We’re also told that world gin day marks the release of a new Settlers product, so we’ll be waiting to hear and taste it when it arrives. Rowland was keeping very tight lipped when we spoke.