Anther gin's co-distillers and life partners Dervilla McGowan and Sebastian Reaburn were just breaking ground on their expansive new distillery and bar in Geelong when shutdown began.
McGowan, a former bartender whose PhD in microbiology is the company's ace in the hole for creating their botanical blends, "had an informed nervousness" about the pandemic, says Reaburn.
This forced them to make a major call: if they stopped, they couldn't grow the brand, yet they had already outgrown Collingwood's Craft and Co, and their Richmond site since launching (originally under the Artemis title) in 2016. Continue, and they would be risking their life savings. Thankfully the latter choice panned out, meaning Geelong will be able to celebrate with gin flights and cocktails from July as restrictions lift.
Why Geelong? "The council said they would love to have us," says Reaburn. The site, part of Cameron Hamilton's carefully restored Federal Mills, also outshone anything else the duo saw. A wool mill built in 1915, the airy, red brick space is bathed in light. The rest of the development is a dynamic tech and innovation hub, with coding firms, lawyers, start-ups and, thanks to its own fibre optic cable, some of Australia's fastest internet.
While no hospitality plan feels firm anymore, McGowan and Reaburn are hoping to start by offering private bookings for flights of their gins including their classic London Dry style (with Australian botanicals) and their cherry gin, made with hand-pitted fruit, followed by a full service bar program with whatever food meets regulations. A full kitchen will be installed later in the year.
Want a virtual (and literal) taste? Anther will be hosting two live tasting sessions for World Gin Day on Saturday, and sample packs can be bought to taste-along. Find details via their social media.
Anther Distillery will open at 33 Mackey Street, North Geelong, in July, anther.com.au