BIG SMILES: North of Eden's Gavin Hughes and Karen Touchie are "over the moon" they took home silver and bronze in an international competition. Picture: David Rogers

BIG SMILES: North of Eden's Gavin Hughes and Karen Touchie are "over the moon" they took home silver and bronze in an international competition. Picture: David Rogers

Start-up gin distillery a world-beater

Start-up gin distillery takes on the world


Industry
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A move from the city for lifestyle has proved a winner for this couple and their artisan gin distillery.

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A couple who decided on a lifestyle shift from Melbourne to the far south coast of NSW have turned their tree change into a world-beating gin-making business.

Gavin Hughes manufactured biofuels before running bars in Melbourne, while Karen Touchie was the director of the climate change policy branch in the Victorian government.

An unexpected trip with friends who were living in the Bega Valley made the couple consider what they truly wanted out of life.

That night, while searching online, Ms Touchie found the Stony Creek property they bought for their distillery three months later. Their gins first hit the shelves in March.

Now, the small, start-up operation - appropriately named North of Eden - has beaten more than 800 competitors to take home awards from an international competition.

The distillery received a silver medal for its Classic gin and a bronze medal for its Connoisseur gin at the 2019 International Wine and Spirit Competition in London.

The competition has run for 50 years and is one of the most respected of its kind in the world, attracting about one quarter of all gins.

"We're just over the moon!" Mr Hughes said. "We've only been operating since October last year, so we didn't expect to get an award so early.

"We're stoked we were able to produce to a quality that was recognised at this level."

LOVERS OF GIN: Gavin Hughes and Karen Touchie run North of Eden at Stony Creek, outside Bega. Picture: David Rogers

LOVERS OF GIN: Gavin Hughes and Karen Touchie run North of Eden at Stony Creek, outside Bega. Picture: David Rogers

The couple were fans of gin as a drink and said they decided to take the opportunity of moving for lifestyle to craft their own business, which they thought could also showcase local produce.

A lot of their ingredients are grown on their farm, and they have planted more fruit trees in their orchard, while other ingredients come from nearby - such as kelp foraged from Mystery Bay in the north.

"We're very much about being connected to the place. Where we can we try to get the produce from the coast," Mr Hughes said.

TOP SHELF: The silver and bronze winning bottles of North of Eden gin. Picture: David Rogers

TOP SHELF: The silver and bronze winning bottles of North of Eden gin. Picture: David Rogers

"It's surprising what people are putting in gin these days. Kelp offers a real minerality to the gin. It's a subtle injection of flavour, we find it really compliments our Connoisseur gin."

He said there were quicker and easier ways to make gin, but North of Eden's traditional approach was what gave it its own taste.

"I think the thing that makes it unique is the fact we are using technology that's well over 1000 years old; nothing about our process is automated, everything is artisan," he said.

"We determine what's good enough to go into the gin just by taste.

"We do everything as it's been done for many, many years."

North of Eden has some plans for the near future, such as finishing the cellar door to open to the public later this year and the owners have begun to experiment with seasonal gin, such as a kumquat one Mr Hughes said was "95 per cent there" and uses fruits taken from a tree at their home.

The story Start-up gin distillery a world-beater first appeared on Bega District News.

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