A lasting – but minimal – impression
Lord Howe Island Distilling Co. is currently in the midst of a transformation. They are expanding their distilling operation from the mainland to the island, beginning with converting an established building into an R&D facility that will also run tours and tastings. But with sustainability such a core part of maintaining Lord Howe Island’s ecosystem, the co-founders are aware that they need to make decisions with an overarching ‘green’ mindset.
“Shipping and the carbon footprint you can leave is a big thing for the island,” Anthony says. “After all, whatever comes over to the island pretty much has to leave it at some stage. We are building a distillery here that should hopefully be up and running by February or March. We're currently relining the façade of the building, and inside we’ll be updating the electricity and everything else in time for the start of 2023.”
Even with an operational distillery just a few short weeks away, Christian says this isn’t the type of project that you can scale up at speed. “We want to make sure that our footprint on the island is as minimal as possible, which is why we will always do our scale production on the mainland.”
Eco-friendly choices from start to finish
One major benefit of being able to test new recipes on the island is the access to native botanicals.
“We’re working with these really unique, endemic botanicals that we can carefully trial and make sure that islanders and tourists alike have an opportunity to really taste something they've never tasted before,” Christian says.
Beyond natives, Anthony adds that they are also trying to be more creative about how they fuse endemic botanicals with other exceptional flavours from around the island. “A number of botanicals on the island here are endemic to this island, but there are also things we can get our hands on straight away, like citruses that were introduced to the island generations ago,” he says.
“Especially with our Wild Lemon & Hibiscus Gin, it's about balancing those incredible wild lemons, which have been here for over 180 years, and blending them with some of the smaller native botanicals. We've got a research and development permit with the Lord Howe Island Board, which allows us to look into some of the unique botanicals that we have here and then possibly bring them down to the residential areas, grow them a bit more sustainably, and then infuse them into our products.”
Creativity doesn’t come cheap
Christian is the first to admit that their heavy focus on R&D translates to a higher final price of their spirits – but a quality process breeds quality products, and you really do get what you pay for with LHI Distilling Co.
“We are a boutique brand, and our pricing is certainly at the upper end,” Christian says.
“We're also dealing with operational issues such as how to actually run a distilling business 600km off the coast of New South Wales.”
It’s a constant learning process – one that both islander Anthony and mainlander Christian are committed to doing right. And that starts and ends with sustainability.
Botanicals in Wild Lemon & Hibiscus Gin
With Lord Howe Island home 241 species of indigenous plants, of which almost half (113)
are not found anywhere else on the planet, Christian and Anthony are spoilt for choice when
it comes to testing out potential new flavours.
Here are just a few of the botanicals you’ll find in your bottle of Wild Lemon & Hibiscus Gin –
with a handful of ingredients staying secret!
- Wild bush lemons
- Juniper berries
- Angelica root
- Cassia bark
- Coriander seed
…and a few others you’ll have to let your palate figure out.
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