Pouring love into West End with carefully distilled liquors, Jon Atherton is introducing the much needed and long awaited Brisbane Distillery. While travelling through Canada and Europe, Atherton was surprised to see so many small distilleries starting out. Taking note of the lack of distilleries in Brisbane, he decided that it was time for the city to have one of its own, in the inner city.
“The last distillery in Brisbane was closed down probably 80 to 100 years ago,” Atherton said. Owning software companies for about 30 years and an electronics hardware factory, Atherton has had a multitude of experience in business and working closely with people. Seeing a gap in the market, he was well prepared to start a distillery business. “I’ve started all sorts of things, but this one needed a bit of study,” he admits.
Atherton headed to Amsterdam where he attended courses, did practical testing and worked through some recipes which he wanted to use in his gin. Atherton was ready to share his ideas, using traditional flavour profiles, Australian botanicals, and some less familiar tastes. “We’ve got some interesting takes on gin, I think people are going to be quite excited about what we are producing,” he said.
Atherton is also excited about opening the business in West End this October. “It’s got a really good community. I love the community of the main shopping strip. You just walk in there and it’s like you’re friends with everybody,” he enthuses, “I really like the inner city, West End is a great spot.”
Atherton plans to make the distillery open to the public, and help the people of West End understand what they do, and how the flavours come together. The distillery will have a gin school, where people can distil their own gin, choose the botanicals, and walk away with their own bottle. Having owned successful businesses before, Atherton is creating this distillery as a reflection of his family and community values, as something of which West End can be proud. “I’m 53; at this stage I’m not up to making a big huge business and selling it off or anything,” Atherton said.
When asked about Brisbane Distillery’s long-term future, he said, “Success for Brisbane Distillery will probably be if my family still owns the business in 50 or 100 years time.” Demonstrating his commitment, he expands, “And if I’ve got happy customers coming in the door and getting their bottle refilled and we get to meet a whole lot of West End people.”
Atherton is also keen to minimise the distillery’s environmental footprint with the use of solar panels on the distillery’s roof, to help avoid importing power from the grid. All waste products from the distillery will go to livestock, and wherever possible, ingredients will be sourced locally. After months of preparation, the time has finally come to open the doors. The signage is up on the Jane Street premises and Atherton is keen to start welcoming his gin drinking customers.
Readers also enjoyed our story Ballistic Beer.