BTS At Bavay - Interview with Head Distiller George
How long have you worked in the industry and what got you started in distilling?I’ve worked in hospo for 10 years, starting at the bottom as a glassy and worked...
How long have you worked in the industry and what got you started in distilling?
I’ve worked in hospo for 10 years, starting at the bottom as a glassy and worked my way up into managerial roles in cocktail bars. My friend bought a still from New Zealand 8 years ago so we started experimenting with self-taught techniques and the passion for distilling progressed from there.
What kind of distilling process do you use at Bavay?
We use quite traditional methods. We have a beautiful 500 litre pot still plus pot and column distillation for all eight of our core products. The North Queensland Molasses and molasses-based products and gins and vodkas are from a wheat spirit.
What makes it traditional distilling versus more modern methods?
We went big and opened with eight products which is massive for a distillery that's only just turned one. Copper is the original style of still and having the glass column is an addition that came a bit later. The pot column setup is the way to go.
What do you think makes the Bavay Taste so unique?
In terms of flavour, our ferments, the yeast strain we use and the length of our ferments, and the setup of the still with no chill filtration. Resting time for our gin is important as well. We use carbon filtration on the rum, so we’re getting these really oily, full-bodied spirits for with minimal sugars added and a lot of natural ingredients.
What does the resting do exactly?
The reverse osmosis purified water to straight ethanol so it allows those alcohol and water molecules to combine, and you get some contraction over time. On some of the batches we do, it might contract up to 15 litres, as it reduces once everything has combined. It helps to soften the final profiles, it still tastes very raw for the first week, then from there it will start to settle.
What do you think people enjoy the most about Bavay Spirits?
They’re all individually unique, traditional and high quality, plus you can come and have the experience of seeing the production in person. People often don't know much about the history of spirits. All alcohol has an amazing history and is tied to important events in time. That's where my knowledge comes from.
What is your favourite Bavay Spirit?
For me the first time I diluted the Navy Strength Gin and tried it after it had rested, I thought it was one of the best Navy Strengths I’d ever had. And I’ve tried a lot of Navy Strength Gins. The feedback on the pink gin has also been amazing.
What spirit would you recommend for people new to Bavay?
Our London dry is a very classic mix of botanicals making it soft and palatable, from there you can start comparing against our other gins. A tasting paddle for both the rum and the gins would be the way to go as you can try a little of each.
If you were a Bavay cocktail which one would you be and why?
I’d be an Umami daiquiri. I’ve had the idea written down in my pocket for a couple of years now, and to be able to tie it all together with ingredients I’ve sourced and created. Spicy but classic. It’s not something you can really put into words, you just have to experience it.
Are there any rules to distilling?
All spirits have their own rules; in terms of our gin blending classes, we use less oak as we’re building from that classic Juniper base stock. When working with other botanicals and flavours, the world is your oyster, we’re very lucky in Australia to have so many botanicals available and combinations to try. I think that’s why we’re seeing more distilleries expand, we have such unique ingredients available to us, and so we’re all experimenting.
When blending and tasting, what are you looking for? Profiles, sensations, where it hits the palate?
When you’re trying to develop that profile for gin, there aren’t really any wrong ways to do it. You’ll want to have that hero ingredient for the direction you’re wanting to go; whether it’s citrus heavy or something a bit more spiced or earthy. Then create layers of complexity and lengthen the palate. Layering is important, because you have to think of how it’s going to feel on your palette.