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From Science Degrees to Distillery: The Journey of David Scott

From Science Degrees to Distillery: The Journey of David Scott

May 20, 2024 | Maker Stories

We are incredibly excited to bring you an intimate conversation with one of our esteemed partners, David Scott. Not just any distiller, David is a brilliant mind behind Australia's first legal potato vodka. His passion for wines and spirits led him to leave his professional career and harness his science background to create something truly special. We're proud to feature his exceptional gin in our recently launched Gin Cocktail Kit (see image below), and now we want to share his journey with you.

Gin Cocktail Kit | Country Culture

From the early days in Bellingen, to the establishment of Glen Gowrie Distillery in his hometown of Glen Innes, let's delve into David's fascinating story.

Tell us about your background and how it lead you to where you are now.

I have always been interested in wines and spirits, and when my wife and I did a sideways step from our professional careers, over 30 years ago, it seemed like a good idea to utilise my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Science to create something really special. We started making wines from fruits, other than grapes, in the year 2000 when we lived in Bellingen, where there was a lot of sub-tropical fruits available.  Moving to Dorrigo in 2007, the local Dorrigo Sebago potato ‘reared its tuber’ as a challenge and we applied for a Excise Manufacturers Licence, making Australia’s first legal potato vodka. By Australian standards we are very old distillers, being only the 16th licence granted in Australia!

How did you come up with the concept and name  for the business?

We moved back to my hometown of Glen Innes in 2014 and purchased a property named “Gowrie”, named after Lord Gowrie who was the 10th Governor General of Australia serving over WW2. Thus, the name Glen Gowrie Distillery arose from a distillery located in Glen Innes, on a property named Gowrie.

Where do you live and how does it influence your work.

Our distillery is located 30m from our home on our property, located in a fully renovated large colourbond shed fitted out with all the bits and pieces that go to make up a modern state-of-the-art distillery. We are fermenters as well as distillers, meaning that we produce everything from the raw ingredient.  Most of our products are produced from potatoes which we now source locally from Guyra.  However, we have a dedicated research process where we source other ingredients to use as the base spirit.  These products all affect the flavour profile and quality of our products e.g. blueberries, peach, apples.

Where we live has an enormous influence on my work; I can easily walk into the paddock and check out my cattle – we raise quality Speckle Park, play with the dogs – we have 7 amazing Whippets as well as countless numbers of chooks and ducks. Plenty of lawns to mow and timber to chop for firewood. These are great things to do to reset the mind and work out a particular distilling issue or a flavour.

Behind the scenes - where is your office and who is in your team?

My office is where my laptop is. It might be in the lab, sitting at the bar (we have a Drink on Premises Authority) or under the trees with a  coffee, watching the calves play. We are a small operation and I am ably assisted by my ever tolerant and loving wife of 40 years, Susie.  At busy times we have a small group of helpers who assist us.

What's your most popular product and why do you think this is?

Our current most popular product is Lime and Roses Gin. This is a Gin made with potato spirit, Desert Limes and Geraldton Wax leaves and Juniper. This is a floral gin with a delicate rose flavour (from a selected variety of Geraldton Wax) and a citrus hit. Tasters often refer to this gin as “pretty”. It makes a stunning long summer G&T which is very refreshing.

Any challenges with your business?

Our biggest challenge is to restrict the numbers of products.  As a research scientist, I am forever examining new ways of creating new products from different ingredients. I also get excited when creating new products from classic ingredients, working out how to make our version of classic spirits e.g. Irish Spirit, known as Poitin in Ireland and Agave Blanco, known as Tequila in Mexico.

What do you do to relax?

Mow the lawns, attack the hedges with a hedge trimmer, whipper snipper the grass around our lovely New England garden and finish with a G&T with Susie!

Favourite Australian place? Why?

I work in paradise, I live in paradise, it takes me 2 hours to buy a litre of milk (read always bump into an old friend for a chat)…. I’m proud to be 5th generation Glen Innes, and favourite Australian place is my hometown.

David's passion, innovative spirit, and love for his community shine through every bottle of vodka he makes at Glen Gowrie Distillery. His story is a strong reminder of how amazing things can happen when we chase our passions. We're super proud to include his delicious gin in our Gin Cocktail Kit, that you should definitely check out!


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