Opening the doors to their Distillery in 2017 and offering the services via their highly sought-after Gin School to their customers, Durand Distillery by Brett Durand has nestled itself in a pristine location in the Barossa Valley and is all about bringing to light Brett’s passion for craft Gin through their range of Gins on offer.
While it has become impossible to be able to visit the location and the region due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak that has brought our state, the nation, and the world to a complete standstill, all is not lost because Durand Distillery is still working hard to keep our gins up during these trying times by continuing to create their hand-crafted Gins to get us through the isocalypse in style.
Additionally, they will be participating at the upcoming Gathered Design Market – Virtual Edition during the weekend of April 18 and 19, 2020 and I was fortunate enough to have an e-questionnaire with Head Distiller Brett Durand – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourselves?
Brett: We are a family-owned enterprise that prides ourselves on being an artisan spirits maker from the Barossa Valley. We are also hosts to the first Gin School on mainland Australia and are here to ensure that there is no compromise on the quality of our Gins.
Tema: What made you decide to set up your own business and what has that journey been like, so far?
Brett: I was teaching myself the art of distillation with the aim a recreating a childhood memory given to me by my grandfather. He was a French immigrant from the destruction of W.W II and as a proud Frenchman, would share a taste of Pastis with me on the sly (much to my parents disdain)! I remember this warm liquorice liquid that would turn to clouds in a glass when it touched the ice. This has stayed with me my entire life and you’ll always find a bottle of Pastis hidden away for me for when I get nostalgic.
Tema: What attracted you to building your business around Gin in particular?
Brett: Crafting Gin is the perfect balance between art and science (left brain) and creativity and attention to detail (right brain).
Tema: Can you share with us some of the products that are offered via Durand Distillery?
Brett: We have three offerings in our range at the moment.
The first is the Matriarch named in honour of Maggie Beer. It was Maggie who first asked me to make her a Gin so that she could enjoy a Martini when the mood struck. So, I crafted a recipe from juniper and coriander seeds that matched with lime that was imported from Iran, along with farm-grown rosemary and Toolunka Creek green Sevillano olives. Pretty much a Martini in a glass!
The Good Wife was created and named by my wife Elli in our Gin School back in 2017. The name was a little of her humour mixed with wanting a Gin that suited her palate. This one is full of complex spices over a bed of juniper and sloe berries.
The third, The Game Keeper, is named in honour of Colin Beer. This one is a classic dry Gin style and can be the basis for almost any Gin cocktail.
Tema: How long (on average) does it take you to create your blends of Gin?
Brett: It can take a while to craft and create a recipe. The Matriarch took six months and a small dose of good luck. While I was creating the Matriarch, I was having trouble with the citrus bringing out the bitterness in the olives. Also, Our farm-grown olives are Sicilian, which make fantastic oil and are great as dark olives for eating. It was a stroke of good luck that Andrea and Craig from Toolunka Creek had stopped past our farm shop one afternoon and overheard me explaining to Maggie my dilemma with the olives and bitterness. They offered a sample of theirs to try and Voila! After the first batch, I knew that we’d found the answer! The Good Wife took several attempts and a lot of patience as they Gin is poured over the sloe berries to extract their colour and flavour. To be honest, the Game Keeper I nailed on the first try – I knew where I wanted that one to go and just went for it!
Tema: What would you like your customers to experience, when purchasing a bottle of Gin from your business?
Brett: We offer our entire Gin range for tasting before the purchase. So, I would love for people to come and visit us (when it’s safe and appropriate to do so) to try, taste, and have their first experience of our hard work on the very site where all the magic happened.
Tema: How do you think your style of Gin can add value to their homes / lives?
Brett: Our Gin isn’t the average everyday sipper. Each recipe of Gins that we offer are all handmade by myself and reflect the reward for hard work and passion to create something truly pleasurable. It’s all about drinking less while enjoying the experience even more.
Tema: I see that you have set up a “Gin School” – can you please tell us more about it?
Brett: The Gin School is my playground to share the passion of creating Gin recipes from scratch with people who are interested in Gin or distilling. This is the place where people come to learn and experience in a hands-on, get-involved, excite-your-senses environment and trust their own creativity in the process. I’m there to build people’s knowledge and stimulate their creativity so that their recipe can come to life. And the best part is that they get to take their very own creation home to enjoy with friends.
Tema: What do you think helps Durand Distillery stand out from the rest that may be pursuing a similar business model?
Brett: I’m in this business to help my customers win – whether it’s at the Gin School creating a recipe or if it is when they’re mixing an after-work reward Gin, I want them to have a quality experience. Life’s too short to not make the most of every moment.
Tema: What do you think has been rewarding about being a small-scale business in Adelaide / SA?
Brett: South Australian customers are fantastic. They really get behind those that want to share their passion and integrity and I applaud them for their support!
Tema: What do you think has been challenging about being a small-scale business in Adelaide / SA?
Brett: Being small scale in Adelaide means we’re one step away from the larger markets on the eastern seaboard and beyond. It can be difficult to break down that barrier when trying to build your customer base.
Tema: How are things going with the recent COVID-19 outbreak – how has it impacted your business?
Brett: Since COVID-19 appeared, we have had to postpone the Gin School sessions, temporarily close our restaurant The Farm Eatery and the Farm Shop. We’ve gone from one of the most visited places in the Barossa Valley to having no one around. However, the truly hardest part is worrying about our guys and how we can help them get through this. We’ve been trying to keep the their spirits up by cooking up lots of take-home meals for them to try give a little comfort and respite. It’s the very least we can do. Also, I’ve been researching the legalities of creating Sanitizing spray from Ethanol. Throughout all this, I’m still continuing to manufacture more spirt from wine in the hope that we might be able to do some good. We have (so far) donated 20L to a site that needs a full cleanse after being in isolation for 14 days due to having some tourists test positive with the virus. Hopefully, we’ll get the tick of approval to get the spray out there shortly.
Tema: How did you get involved with Gathered SA?
Brett: We became involved as we hoped to participate in the market and introduce ourselves to a diverse range of individuals and businesses in Adelaide this year.
Tema: What are you hoping from the upcoming virtual design market that Gathered SA is putting together?
Brett: I really like the concept. I think this is such a clever and innovative way to ‘meet’ our prospective customers and get them to get to know us and what we do.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like us to know about you and your business?
Brett: Only that we’re excited to be part of this great new concept and we can’t wait to share our passion of Gin with you!
Durand Distillery will be participating in the upcoming Gathered Design Market (Virtual Edition) during the weekend of April 18 – 19, 2020. Please head to their official website and support local by purchasing a bottle (or few) of Gin, book into a session at their Gin School when it reopens, or simply buy an gift voucher for yourself or a loved one in a bid to keep their business afloat.
With thanks to Gathered SA’s Jenna O’Dell for the Q&A opportunity
All photography courtesy John Krüger