1919 DISTILLING’s Roots
The concept of starting a distillery had been a dream of mine for many years. With a passion for Rum & Gin, the dream had always been to create a brand of my own that people would love and want to be a part of. But what good is a dream if you haven’t got a roof to build it under?This is where the hunt for a distillery location began. To cut a long story short I settled on Auckland, the city that I have been happily calling home for the last 9 years, and build a distillery.
One thing that was important to me right from the start was embracing New Zealand’s history and the Kiwi can-do attitude. This philosophy or moral compass has shaped 1919 Distilling into the company it is today and is reflected in our name, botanicals and bottle design.
How hard can it be to pick a name… well as it turns out its bloody hard especially when your first choice is too close to a trademarked name (mum and dad I now know why you chose my name from a book of names). It was this rode block, the first of many, that left me sitting up one night in the flat with a seemingly never-ending cup of coffee researching New Zealand history. As it turned out, New Zealand had always been partial to a tipple or two, and in December 1919 the prohibition vote reached a tantalising 49.7%. No one knew it at the time, but this would be the closest New Zealand would ever get to introducing prohibition. And that was it! “1919 Distilling” was born in honour of the 50.3% of kiwis that stood up for there rights.
Fast forward to now, we are on a mission to shed some light on a once forgotten industry through hard work and determination. But we can't do it alone, we need you! that's right you! To share this page, like our photos or don’t… but please do and let your friends know that New Zealand now has a distillery of its own to be proud of.
We look forward to sharing our innovation, creativity, passion with New Zealand.
Cheers from 1919 Distilling.
A DISTILLERS GUIDE TO DISTILLATION.
ONE OF OUR PRINCIPLES AT 1919 DISTILLING IS TO BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT HOW WE MAKE OUR GIN, SO FIND A COMFY SEAT POUR A DRINK AND SETTLE IN AS WE DIVE INTO THE STEP BY STEP PROCESS.
STEP ONE: THE WASH
First things first we need to make alcohol. To achieve this, we start with a wash/mash. This is done using wheat, corn, barley, sugar or molasses and adding water to make a sweet sugary fermentable liquid.
Once we have our mash or wash, we are ready for the next step, adding the yeast. Yeast is one of the most essential ingredients, and to be honest, they can be a little bit precious. If the yeast gets stressed they start to produce off flavours, if the yeast gets cold, they end up going to sleep, and if the yeast gets too hot, they die of heat exhaustion.
When our wash/mash has fermented out to about 8% its ready for the magic to happen, also known as the distillation.
STEP TWO: THE STRIPPING RUN.
The stripping run is not as glamours as the name sounds. It’s job is to strip the alcohol our of our mash or wash and take it from about 8% abv to 40% abv. Typically these will be hard and fast runs where the distiller won't make any cuts. What are cuts you ask? Read on below to find out.
STEP THREE: THE SPIRIT RUN
Arguably the most critical run this is where the distiller gets to decide what type of alcohol the spirt become. Gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, aren’t they all the same?
Well yes, and no, the spirit run is typically much much slower. We have even had spirit runs take 24 hours (a lot of coffee was consumed that day). During the spirit run the distiller focuses on the proof/abv, he wants the spirit to exit the still at while making cuts. Think of cuts like a rattlesnake, the heads are where all the venom and nasty stuff is, no one wants to drink that, so we discard them, the tail's are where the rattle is and ewww who want to drink that (also they smell like wet cardboard) and what's left, the centre or the hearts this is where the clean and pure ethanol is full of flavour and goodness. Now, why is this critical? Well you know those cheap bottles you find on the bottom shelf? They’re cheap because they are full of heads and tails. No thank you! Now from here, vodka is ready to be bottled, whisky and rum can be put to sleep in casks, but gin still has one final step to go.
SO HOW IS GIN MADE YOU ASK?
There are two main methods that distilleries use to give their Gin its unique taste.
The first is steeping. This is essentially a fancy way of saying soaking them for a period. Most distillers will aim for between 24-48 hours but some may choose to soak there botanicals for hours, minutes or seconds. This is up to the distiller and will have an impact on the overall flavour profile.
Once steeping is completed the spent botanicals may be removed from your resulting mix. This ethanol mix is then transferred into the still and redistilled, resulting in a juniper/botanically charged distillation which is ready to use in the final product.
The second is vapour infusion, a process of taking Juniper and other Botanicals and inserting them in the vapour path. When distillation takes place the ethanol vapours rise up and are forced to travel through the botanicals. The resulting spirit produce is infused with the botanical characteristics that we know as gin.
From here our gin is ready to be proofed and bottled for your enjoyment.
Hopefully you enjoyed our quick snapshot of the distillation process. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask.
WHAT IS CRAFT DISTILLING
Even if you are not much of a spirit drinker odds are you have walked into a liquor store and seen the whisky and gins on the shelf under labels like Johnny Walker or Bombay Sapphire. But if you’ve paid more attention, you would have noticed that some brands you haven't heard of are starting to command shelf space. These are the rebels, the independent brands driving the craft spirit movement.
Following in the footsteps of craft beer, over the last few year craft spirits have started to enjoy a small boom, with new distilleries and local brands popping up, typically founded on a dream and family owned and self-funded.
So who can use the word craft? Unfortunately, its loosely defined leaving room for misinterpretation to pop up. Within the industry, it is recognised as being produced in small batches (our smallest batch was nine bottles). Keeping to the true sense of handcrafted the distiller is involved in every step of the process from selecting the botanicals to fermenting the wash to running the still. You wouldn't see a large commercial distiller crushing juniper berries with a motor and pestle as we do.
Unfortunately, when you look at the larger players within the industry, love, sweat and pride for each bottle gets sacrificed for scale. Their stills can be over 100,000 litres in size compared to a craft distillers 100-1000 litres. Their systems are automated every step of the way of producing tens of thousands of bottles a day and they couldn't tell you, or won't tell you, about the process. Ask a true craft distillery and there face will light up they will tell you it rained that day while making batch 6 or how they picked the lemons from there grandparents lemon tree, its the attention to detail that sets us apart.
In fact, these days many spirits aren't even distilled by the so-called distillery or distiller. Instead they're bought in bulk and altered, blended or infused and maybe even sweetened, filtered or flavoured. So even if the word craft is on the bottle it may have been distilled in a big factory. Look for terms like "produced and distilled by" or "made in New Zealand" to give help you ensure the product is authentic and not mass produced and avoid tricks like "blended", "batch made", "bottled by" and "crafted in".
Next time your out looking through the shelves we encourage you to pick up a bottle read the back, read the label and support the little guy. After all, do you really want to help some CEO get his 8,000,000 dollar bonus? Yeah nah, let's keep it kiwi and promote the craft distilling movement!