Tuesday, 23 December 2014

In the Beginning

Anthony Sexton: otherwise known as
“The Gin Guy”
I created this blog as a means of sharing some of my experiences as a Craft Gin producer as well as some of the great things that Gin has going for it and why it is one spirit that is ready to shake off its underdog image.

I have been deliberating for a few months now on where to start, so much can be said about Gin what it is where it’s been and where it’s going but I thought first I will share a bit about me and my experiences, so bear with me through a short history lesson.

My father John started making moonshine in our Ellerslie garage in the early 2000's (did you know NZ is the only country in which this is actually legal), not happy with off the shelf flavours and equipment he spent long hours experimenting in the garage.

The Early days of experimenting: John Sexton
John took a number 8 wired approach as any true kiwi inventor would and built his equipment mostly from scratch. Some experiments were successful others not so much but there is no substitute to learning by experience. During this time I personally learnt a lot about the ins and outs of distilling. Eventually with the still perfected John worked tirelessly in his spare time sourcing ingredients and playing with the processes, I was the chief taste tester and learned a lot about the different botanicals and how the slightest alterations can make the biggest change in flavours.

Johns winning 2008 Gin and Vodka
were produced using the above still.
We started up our small company in 2008 my father John Sexton had just won the national NZ Stillmaster award with best in class for both his Gin and Vodka. The first few years were focused on perfecting our gin ready for larger volume production along with pulling together the historical elements that would make up our brand. It quickly became clear that due to the Global Financial Crisis investors would not be forthcoming.

In 2012 the decision was made to put forward our own money, I ceased full time employment as a buyer and the process of finding a suitable location and preparing for market entry began. I can tell you navigating this country’s often archaic laws/regulations and government/council departments was frustrating at the best of times. Especially with most of these being designed around million litre production capacities not to mention million dollar budgets. So trying to apply them to our newly created micro distillery was no mean feet and took the better part of a year to fully organise into something that suited our business model and gave us the freedom to do everything in house.
In 2013 it paid off, the distillery doors opened and we now have the ability to produce up to 250 bottle batches.

Skipping forward to 2014 with the help of our Sales Manager Lawrence Barker we have been selling for over a year and the future is looking bright for Vaione and the "Craft Gin" scene in New Zealand.

Unfortunately during 2014 John’s health deteriorated and he was unable to manage the distillery so I had to quickly skill up in this area and I can tell you this is an ongoing process and something that I am very passionate about and excited to continue learning more about.
John passed away early in 2014 leaving his company and Vaione as his legacy.

I started this journey with a passion for Vaione and a burgeoning appreciation for the remarkable variety of flavours and tastes that are possible with Gin production. I am now in a unique position within New Zealand as one of very few small independent distilleries with the ability to really experiment with flavour and test the limits of what Gin can be.

I really hope that you are as keen as me to explore these boundaries and as such I am currently working on a new micro batch range to help me share these new concepts with you. So all i can say is watch this space the first product will be dropping early January and is a collaboration with one of my all time favourite breweries Epic! 

Stay tuned for my next post, I intend to update this blog regularly with topics ranging from how gin is made, to the latest gins i have tried, to the current state of the Gin category and what needs to change to increase its popularity. 

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