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Trending – Meet the Makers

Homegrown in Australia

100% Australian and proud of it

Meet Australia’s inspirational makers. Discover the backstory to your favourite alcohol-free drinks. Feel proud to be choosing Australian owned and made.

The team behind Altina Drinks Christina and Alan pouring their favourite red wine alternative

Altina Drinks - Bringing in the flavour

Partners in life and business, Alan & Christina have developed a range of sophisticated alcohol free drinks to solve not only their problem, but ours as well.  I asked Christina to share the Altina story because I love how Australian producers have approached their alcohol free journey and I knew that this story is one of passion, attention to details and delivery of a high quality product. 

We started Altina in 2018 to solve a problem that we’d personally experienced: That when we didn’t want to drink alcohol, there was nothing complex and sophisticated to drink. At the time, we were both working as consultants and really started to feel the effects of a few bottles of wine a week.

There was nothing that mimicked the experience of drinking a beautiful craft beer or wine. So often, we resorted to just drinking alcohol instead of suffering the sugar coma, or ridicule from our peers, that came with drinking a soft drink.

We found that many people were experiencing this same problem. We also found that there was no solution on the market. There were a handful non-alcoholic beers or wine; but they did not come close to mimicking the experience of a beautiful complex and sophisticated drink.

And that’s where the real science and innovation has come into our business. As a scientist by training, our founder Christina took a unique approach to developing a manufacturing process. She borrowed different techniques from different industries and combined them into a bespoke process that has allowed us to create complex and delicious drinks; without needing to use alcohol, added sugars or artificial flavours and colours.

Traditionally, non-alcoholic drinks (soft drinks) are a mix of syrups, flavours and water. Non-alcoholic wine is produced by removing alcohol from a finished wine and adding sugars or grape concentrates. Here at Altina, we start with beautiful native Australian ingredients, and premium Aussie made wine.

We gently remove the alcohol from the wine, using the spinning cone method. We then blend that wine with beautiful native Australian botanicals and other beautiful plant ingredients to give a complexity and depth that’s hard to achieve. You can read more about the process we us to develop our wines here.

We’ve been able to create a drink that people can swap their nightly glass of wine with – and can feel good about, and we are so proud of the change we’ve been able to make on the Aussie drinking culture.

Altina started with the sparkling range and last year was followed with a quality trio of still wine – Liberate (don’t mind if I do!).  

I asked Christina if it was more complex to develop the still range:

Yes, because you need to really nail the mouthfeel, flavour development and complexity with a still wine – there’s no bubbles to help provide those things. We also had to prove out the innovative method we use as it’s not something that’s been made before. 

All Altina products are made with their customers in mind and with the still wines because customers were asking for them.  From day one people were asking us about still wines. We’re so happy to be able to bring out the range to offer people a great alternative that pairs well with food, and is a direct swap from popular alcohol wines.

What drives your product development?

We put a lot of emphasis on customer feedback, and this plays a big role in product development. We love involving our customers in the process. I’m fact, we had over 100 customers follow the journey and provide feedback and input on creating the still wines. I think that’s why they’ve had such a successful launch, it’s exactly what people want.

What is your and Alan’s favourite drinks in the range?

Alan always goes back to La Vie en Rose (and our 4 year old loves his “Rose drink” as a treat haha). For me, it depends on the context – I’ll match with food, or the occasion

Any top tips for people trying alcohol free drinks?

I think you need to start with the expectation that no alcohol-free drink will ever taste exactly like alcohol. But you can still have that wonderful experience with an interesting non alc alternative. I’d also suggest making sure you take the time to really enjoy that first glass – don’t just give up after the first sip. At ALTINA we are really proud of how the flavours of our drinks develop as you sip, creating a special experience like you might have with a fine wine.

 

Clovendoe Distilling – The Spirit of Girl Power

QLD | Distillery

Catie Fry is the inspirational founder of Clovendoe Distilling, the first all-female distilling company in Australia. 

Today the Clovendoe brand is synonymous with the distinctive Botanic Distilled Clovendoe Zero range.

Yet, the path to liquor producing and retailing wasn’t a straight line. Catie’s journey to becoming a master distiller meandered, ducked and dived.

“There is a lot of gender bias in the distilling industry. I was even advised not to go for such a strongly gendered branding on the labels.”

But Catie stuck to her conviction, saying, “I doubt Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, or Johnny Walker got told they should not design such a masculine-looking label.”

So Catie forged her ahead with her distinctive brand, creating botanic distillations to celebrate feminine spirit and energy.  

Zero alcohol inspiration

While necessity is the mother of all inventions, Catie believes being pregnant and raising small children is a close second.

“Early mornings with little people and having no desire for a hangover in the morning, yet not wanting to miss out on the party got me thinking about alcohol-free spirits.”

Catie felt sure she wasn’t alone in her desire to wake the following morning with no regrets about the night before.  And after some initial research, Catie identified a considerable gap in the market. Few were making sophisticated alcohol-free spirits.

So, as a master of the craft of distilling good gin, Catie put her talents to work. She experimented with infusing irresistible botanical flavours to create sophisticated profiles. Out of this, the Clovendoe Zero range was born.

But Catie is quick to emphasise that her Clovendoe Zero range is not an alcohol-free gin or vodka replica. “We’re not trying to be something we’re not.”

Instead, “The base spirit is the canvas, and the botanicals allow me to play. That’s why the Clovendoe botanic distilled alcohol-free spirits are in a class of their own.” 

The craft of distilling

Skilled in traditional distilling methods, no one more than Catie understands that making a sophisticated zero proof range involves much trial and error.

“Using steam, I was always looking for ways to extract the most concentrated levels of flavour from the 21 unique, ethically sourced and locally produced botanicals I work with.”

Distilling is a craft, and exacting the perfect flavour is a subtle art.  That’s why, just like wine vintages, my botanical distillations differ slightly with each batch.

Mixing it up with Clovendoe

If you’re new to Clovendoe Zero spirits, Catie recommends using soda water as the mixer.

“It’s important not to mask the infusion of sophisticated flavours profiled in our Clovendoe Seed Zero, Sprout Zero, or Stem Zero botanic spirits.”

The spirit of girl power in a bottle

Catie believes Clovendoe’s success is due to her rolling up her sleeves and just doing it.  But credit also goes to inspirational women and people who constantly reminded her that what she was doing was worthwhile.

So if you’re aiming for complete sobriety or simply want to drink less, get ready to experience the bold and complex qualities in each sip of Clovendoe Zero.

Brunswick Aces - Acing Alcohol-Free

VIC | Distillery

Back yard still. Five friends. Good food. What could go wrong? Nothing, right?

That’s until one became pregnant and the other took up running. Suddenly, this happy group’s social dynamics changed. Overnight, these neighbours acing home distilling found themselves asking, “What does an alcohol-free lifestyle look like?”

Meet the Brunswick Aces.

Today the Brunswick Aces brand is synonymous with superior alcohol-free spirits sold Australia wide.

But back then, when first confronted with defining an alcohol-free lifestyle, Brunswick Aces founder Stephen Lawrence said, “We wanted everyone around our table to feel included and welcome whether they were drinking alcohol or not.”

So began the trio’s exploration into distilling zero alcohol spirits. And the philosophy of inclusion is what drives the business, even today.

Alcohol-free Philosophy

Stephen believes that the focus on drinking to feel the effects of alcohol need to shift. Instead of the highlight being intoxication, the take-home should be connectedness and belonging.

“It’s not about us being prescriptive or preachy,” says Stephen. “It’s about being with friends, enjoying shared experiences and discovering new social rituals.”

Superior alcohol free spirits

Brunswick Aces currently produces two superb Sapiirs (alcohol free distillations).

The Brunswick Aces Sapiir Hearts is a beautifully balanced fusion of cassia bark, ginger and sweet citrus. Mixed with tonic water, ice and lemon, it makes a perfect alcohol free afternoon cocktail or a delightful summer refreshment.

Similarly, the Brunswick Aces Sapiir Spades leads with notes of green cardamon yet is delicately balanced with fresh citrus and Australian native lemon Myrtle flavours.

The smooth gin-like finish and superior flavours result from individual steam distillation of the botanicals and a well-crafted methodology and precise timing. 

“We’re not sure if our distilling process is unique to Brunswick Aces,” explains Stephen. “But we do know that we did not base our method on ordinary distillation processes.” 

It’s all in the name – Sapiir

Stephan says Sapiir means superior. “We didn’t want to put the word ‘non’ in the name given each blend was consciously distilled with flavour and integrity at the centre.”

Perhaps Sapiir will become a new class of ‘superior’ alcohol free gin-like spirits. 

Brunswick Aces Bar – Victoria

For the Brunswich Aces trio, gone are the days of gathering around their back yard still perfecting their processes while chatting and enjoying sumptuous food.

Brunswick Aces now has Australia’s first predominantly alcohol-free bar and bottle shop. 

And people are turning out in droves to support it. On a Friday or Saturday night, queues form outside.

Providing patrons with superior alcohol-free choices and a hip venue to socialise isn’t the only card up Brunswick Aces sleeve.  Plans are in the pipeline to establish Australia’s first Non-Alcoholic Distilling Association. 

Either way, Stephen and his team plan to keep Aussie spirits high. 

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