Granddad Jack's Craft Distillery: A 93 year old legacy in the making
It was just over a year ago when David and Luke Ridden opened the doors of the first gin & whiskey distillery on the Gold Coast as an ode to their infamous great-grandfather David Goulding's "Granddad Jack" life and legacy in distilling. Grass roots, family-owned and operated by the father-and-son duo, David and Luke have garnered a mammoth following in their local gin and whiskey-loving community of the vibrant Miami, and gin critics from the national and international forum.
Luke is the youngest distiller in Australia to win gold at the Australian Gin Awards and Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, and take gongs at London Spirits Competition and Tasting Australia Awards. Yet the concept was born over a few beers a few years ago when the pair boldly decided to open the first gin & whiskey distillery of its kind on the Gold Coast.
With their 90-year-old secret family recipes close to their chest, the pair traveled to Tasmania and the USA to learn the fine arts of distilling. "The day we landed back in Australia we secured the building and I started demolishing at 5pm that night", Luke explains. "Seven months, 15 skip bins and an almost entire rebuild later, we opened in late August 2018 with whiskey in barrels and three gins available."
An audacious and ambitious move fully in character of the late David Goulding.
So who was David Goulding, aka 'Granddad Jack'?
David Goulding was born on the 11th June 1919 in the small town of Timaru in the South Island of New Zealand. From a very young age, he was called upon to provide for his family and himself as his father, unfortunately, passed away eight months before he was born.
At the age of thirteen, Granddad Jack and a friend made the local papers after an epic 65-mile journey, riding their bikes to a sheep station looking for work, carrying with them only a small canteen made from a syrup tin, their lunch and a bottle of homemade whiskey. At fourteen, he returned to his family home after months of working hard at a sheep farm to a bailiff at the door with a four-year debt on the family farm. At the age of fourteen, Granddad Jack negotiated his way around the bailiff to buy more time, and in keeping with his promise, the debt was paid in full. Not a bad effort for a young lad when in the 1930's the best you could earn was a pound a week.
During the war, Granddad Jack purchased a racehorse named 'Sack Cloth,' but it never did any good on the track. Instead, legend says that he bought full-size pencils, broke them in half, sharpened both ends, and sold them individually for a penny each, more than doubling his money.
His gumption, resilience, dedication, integrity and all-around "hard arse" nature was illustrated through adversity and adventure that inspires David and Luke in each project and each release.
The distiller, Luke Ridden, sits down with The Gin Birds and shares his process of bringing the legacy to life, aspirations for Granddad Jack's, his own journey so far. And of course, his favourite way to drink gin.
The inspiration behind Granddad Jack's Craft Distillery was to honour your great-grandfather, David Goulding, for the person he was, and his legacy with distilling. Since launching in 2018, all spirits produced are named after him. Is he in the room with you when creating a new recipe, or is it his approach to life and distilling that you keep close it the process?
That’s right all our core range products are named after significant times in his life. When creating new recipes its definitely his character and approach to life that’s always on my mind. If he wanted to do something he just did it without worrying about the opinions of others. We will be forever trying new things and releasing small batches of things that we want to make. Each new release comes with new ways to challenge ourselves and create more interesting flavours and products.
Although you seem to have great respect for tradition, you are also not afraid to shake things up with your own take on things – such as the Not Whiskey whiskey. Where do you want to take gin and other spirits you produce?
As far as I can! The world of gin is huge and limitless, as for other spirits I am enjoying playing with agave, and with a large crop of agave due to be harvested in Queensland it might be something we can produce more of in the future.
How do you balance between the legacy and the future vision for Granddad Jack’s?
For us the balanced is based on how the man himself would have gone about creating and living life as well as the era he grew up in more than staying strict to naming everything with context to his life or only making things he would have drunk himself.
You are the youngest distiller in Australia to win gold at the Australian Gin Awards and Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. Do you have big plans on what you want to achieve, or do you work instinctively and see what comes?
I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m keen to put my name on a small list of those who win distiller of the year however it’s not what drives me. I love learning new things about distilling and improving my processes to make better products that people can enjoy.
How do you see gin evolving in Australia and where do you want to take it with Granddad Jack’s in Australia and beyond?
In my opinion as I see more and more craft distilleries opening the need for another London Dry or London dry with Lemon Myrtle is fast declining. As distillers in Australia have a wide abundance of native botanicals I see the potential for people trying to come closer and closer to home with what botanicals they choose, I even think we will see a lot more distillers trying to go “Farm to bottle”, planting and tending to their own small crops of botanicals. We here in Queensland have some spectacular ones that we will soon see in gins more frequently.
Where do you source your botanicals from?
For us it’s a balance between finding the closest possible local supply and keeping standards high. Our juniper for instance hails from Bosnia chosen specifically due to the flavours we can massage out of it. Things like fresh fruit come from our local farmers markets and trusted quality farmers.
What makes your gin different or unique?
Not only are our gin’s simplistic in nature giving every new taster no matter if it’s their first gin or they’re an expert, the opportunity to taste every ingredient but also its our distilling processes and Distiller who control a lot of the final flavours. Our recipes could be given to every distiller in the country and each one would have slight differences in quality, final taste and aroma and that come down to how the distiller operates their still, when they choose their cuts and the quality of botanicals they have chosen.
How many incarnations before you found the recipe for Greenhouse gin? Please tell us more about Greenhouse creating the flavour profile, notes, ingredients. Did it end up where you had intended?
I believe the greenhouse everyone tries to today was our 16th iteration of the recipe. We start by submerging cucumbers in our Grape based neutral spirit and then vapour infusing it with Fresh Grapefruit peel, Rosehip, Juniper and Lemon Myrtle. Our friend Belinda [Bowan], The Patron Saint of Gin said it best:
Greenhouse tastes like a beachside Gin should, relaxed, soothing and fresh. It’s defiantly worth a Sunday session without the collateral damage.
This Gin is one you makes friends with, if your new to Gin or you’ve had a negative experience with it, this Gin will make it all better – soft and gentle and not at all herbal.
Please share your best loved recipe for Greenhouse Gin.
I can never go passed our house favourite, Seymour Street! Named after the last street Granddad Jack resided this drink mixes fresh Lime Juice, Eucalyptus syrup and greenhouse gin into a simple but super refreshing drink.
Seymour Street recipe and tasting notes follows interview further down below.
We see you have committed to a small batch of something special each month. We suspect that is where your Pavlova gin was born which we are fans of. What the driver for this? How is that helping your discovery process on new flavour profiles? Things must go really wrong and delightfully right.
Yes for a while now we have been releasing small batch stuff that brings something different to the table for a short period of time. Yes indeed this is where our Pavlova gin has risen from and actually become our fastest ever release to sell out in under a week. We wanted to create something that gives more of an Australian summer Christmas vibe and what’s better than a Pav? Distilled still using plenty of Juniper for a great dry finish but also incorporating fresh passionfruit, kiwi fruit, raspberry’s and even vapour infusing meringue for something pretty special indeed. We love experimenting and have done over 340 different recipes of everything from gin to aperitif to moonshine, some we love some are okay and some are very very average. They’re really aren’t enough days in the week or time to bring them all to a final state but a special few make it to public lips.
The Pavolva Gin as showcased by The Gin Birds.
You also produce for other people. What do you enjoy about producing spirits that are completely different to your own?
Recipes and the ability to create things that taste great are the easy part for us, but we can’t have a core range of 100 different gins or release a new one everyday so it’s nice to be able to work with other passionate people and great brands to release more spirits we are proud of.
We love that you are community based and thrive on the local support. With the growth that will come in time, opening up to the international market, how will you nurture this aspect of your brand?
The key is to control those aspects that are large parts of your brand identity for export we are very much focused on supporting the community’s we enter into as well as pushing people to get down to Australia.
So what's next? Any details or teasers for what's in store for Granddad Jack’s?2020 is shaping up to be a big year with our sights set on opening a second venue and the first of our distillery bars that will create what we have on the Gold Coast in another state, somewhere special to locals with its very own spirits but that same local supportive spirit.
Is there anything you would like us to share about your background, passion, vision or plans?Expanding into more international markets and setting up our distillery bars while maintaining the quality of our Gold Coast distillery is our main focus for the future.
And how do you take your gin?My favourite is our Navy Strength Gin 65 Miles with a slice of orange and east imperial grapefruit tonic there is never a bad time for one.
Finally, what do you think your Granddad Jack would have to say on what you have created, and which would be his favourite spirit?
He was a hard arse so he would say why the hell would we do something in his name but with an air of pride and cheek in his voice. I’d say he would love our whiskeys ageing away and most likely 65 Miles too.
Greenhouse Gin has won awards at London Spirits Competition, Australian Gin Awards, Australian Distilled Spirits Awards and Tasting Australia Awards.
Luke talks about what makes Greenhouse the perfect gateway gin:
Tasting Notes: Greenhouse Gin
This is the gin you need to make friends with.
If you're new to gin, or you've had a negative experience with it, this gin will make it all better. A gentle, botanical combination of cucumber, rosehip, lemon myrtle, grapefruit peel and juniper. Soft and gentle and not at all herbal.
Greenhouse is a light & refreshing gin worthy of a Sunday session.. relaxed, soothing and fresh.
Named because of the love Granddad Jack had for gardening, especially in his greenhouse. His garden was a place where people in the neighborhood would come to chat.
Distiller Recipe: Seymour Street
Sharing the Luke Ridden's favourite for Greenhouse Gin created on the Gold Coast in the distiller tasting room. Featuring the award winning Greenhouse Gin.
Make Eucalyptus Syrup.
Add gum leaves, sugar and water to a saucepan and bring to boil. Once liquid has reached boil and sugar has dissolved let it rest for 5 minutes. Remove any leaves.
Measure ingredients into the shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into an ice filled tumbler or old fashioned glass. Garnish with eucalyptus leaf flower.
Written by Suzan Temizer with contributions from Luke Ridden.
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For more details, why not head over to Granddad Jack's website Granddad Jacks. Be sure to pop into the Tasting Room onsite at the distillery to enjoy the cocktails and atmosphere, with "Make Your Own Gin" classes.
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