Typically a craft distiller may harbour dreams of hitting the big time. Seeing their little passion project grow to have its place on every shelf and bar in the world.
Why then would someone who’s headed up just such a producer want to give it up and get their hands dirty on a small 100l still? Well as Gavin Hughes makes clear, when you work with one of the largest commercial distilleries in the country, it’s just another corporate job. It comes with the same long hours, lack of work life balance and time away from loved ones that pushes many others to find something different.
What Gavin did gain working in neutral spirit production (amongst other things), was a taste for what a great, clean spirit should taste like and how to go about producing it. Considering most great gins begin with a neutral spirit, you have to think this was experience well suited to his future life.
Before leaving the corporate side of the industry Gavin was fortunate to meet his wife Karen, who was directing state government on climate change policy. Needless to say neither of their roles was offering much down time and opportunity to kick back and enjoy life. A weekend with some friends from Bega, spent in the Yarra Valley kicked off some serious self reflection about what they wanted in life.
A little online property hunting and less than three months later, the couple had purchased the 12 acre property that Stoney Creek Farm Distillery is situated on. The question on what they wanted in life was well and truly answered and a craft distillery was born.
Having set up the distillery in 2018 Karen and Gavin got cracking on producing their two gins, the Classic and the Connoisseur. As with any good products, it didn’t take long for some awards to begin coming their way with Silver and Bronze medals respectively at ISWC in London.
It was in the couples plan to offer a broader experience around their little distillery and this took the form of their Gin School. Gavin set about building this last year and was making great progress. All going well they should have only had a weeks work after Christmas to complete the work, with a grand opening slated for January 2020.
Unfortunately things did not go well and the unforeseen and devastating bushfires hit. All of Stoney Creek’s Gin School classes for January and February had to be cancelled and refunded. It’s a testament to Karen, Gavin and some dedicated friends tireless work that the distillery is still up and running. The future has to be bright with that kind of dedication to their dream.
Work is now ready to continue on finalising the Gin School build. Bookings are back open for March onwards and we couldn’t recommend a better weekend (or longer) trip. Gavin, Karen and the rest of the local community would be delighted to see visitors come down.
Details for the Stony Creek Gin School can be found on their website and from everything Gavin tells us, it will be a superb experience.