Our spirits are small batch and focus on quality over yield, Says Nick Jones
In the interview below, Nick Jones, Co-founder at Bathurst Grange Distillery, talks about Bathurst Grange, its spirits range, and upcoming releases at the distillery.
Nick has more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing and customer experience solutions and is also excited about upcoming technologies and development approaches such as conversational AI, IoT, and headless CMS.
His drive for business growth and transformation led to the establishment of Bathurst Grange Distillery, which has grown in popularity year after year. Inspired by the Tasmanian whisky distilleries, Nick Jones and his family saw the opportunity to produce whisky in the incredible climate region of Bathurst. He and his partner Alice like collaborating with other regional producers and are deeply committed to the paddock to bottle responsibly made spirits.
Hi Nick, Tell us about yourself and your background. What prompted you to join the spirits industry?
You could say I peaked early in my 15-year consulting career in the customer experience solution industry. When I turned 30 years old, I felt the urge to put my experience into practice. Many reasons were appealing about the spirits industry. One which is personal to me was to protect our family legacy. The Grange, our property, was my grandfather's. My Dad started building the distillery in 2014. Now I’ve got the bull by the horns and putting our spirits onto the world stage.
What was your initial idea behind launching Bathurst Grange Distillery?
Do something meaningful. It sounds philosophical, but it was more than just making a quick buck. Our family is generational farmer on our 200-year-old heritage property. We set out thinking, “what if we grow our own ingredients”. Barley for whisky, juniper, and botanicals for gin. Not easy to achieve, farming is unpredictable, but we’re getting closer every year to delivering paddock-to-bottle products.
Were there any challenges you had to face when you started? How did you overcome them?
You have to be brave, bold, and an eternal optimist. So our experience in farming has helped us develop those qualities. We often say that our success is determined by our quality, consistency, and scalability. It is no good making a really good gin or whisky if you can only make it once and for only a few. We’ve overcome these obstacles by connecting with an industry network of truly remarkable people willing to share. There’s a great ethos of collaboration among spirit producers, which has helped us along our journey, and we are forever grateful.
Tell us about your spirits range. What is unique about your whisky and gin makes them stand out in the market?
Growing our own ingredients is as unique as it gets. But aside from that, our spirits are small batches and focus on quality over yield. Our methodology is traditional, but we use ingredients that are Australian. But at the heart of it all, we thought Bathurst's temperate climate, with its extreme seasonal variations, would produce interesting whisky cask aging. And it has delivered in spades!
Take us through your production process.
The production involved many craftspeople. We love to celebrate craft, and it takes diverse skills to produce quality whisky and gin. In any given process, it will involve a farmer, maltster, brewer, distiller, cooper, and master blender. It’s labor-intensive and time-consuming, but that’s how it has been done for centuries. Mass production and automation are the death of craft, but for our customers, craft matters.
What role do marketing, branding, and the story plays in overall success?
The brand is your identity, so of course, it is critical. Not only because it is how people recognise your product but why they should care. This influences not only marketing but everything, even employee ethos. That’s what really matters. Marketing is a vessel to tell our story. It gets complex, but we just try to focus on authenticity in our content and help people connect with our narrative within a very crowded spirits industry.
In the past few months, what changes have you made that have had the most significant positive result on the production and sales forefront?
Bringing in some agile methodology practices into our business has helped. It allows for more cross-pollination of ideas across different areas of expertise. We also run monthly and quarterly retrospectives to identify what we need to change and acknowledge what is going well. I believe how we work is critical to having a great workplace and results in positive outcomes across the board.
What are your goals for Bathurst Grange Distillery? Where do you see the brand in the next five years?
Our goals are centered around delivering on the paddock-to-bottle principle. It’s not easy to achieve holistically. I think for a business like ours in a growth stage, a major goal is that we want more people to taste our gin and whisky so they can see how good it is for themselves.
Are there any upcoming releases or plans for expansion this year?
The first release of whisky was this month (November 2022) and marked a massive milestone for our distillery. We will release interesting casks varieties over the next 12 months and beyond. In terms of Gin, R&D is continuous. We’ve started to plant for a summer harvest. I don’t want to give away too much but watch this space!
What is your favourite way to drink whiskey and gin? What perfect setting do you enjoy it in?
I’m a mood drinker, so it can change depending on the day. I literally drink our Australian Dry Gin neat with ice when celebrating. Rose Garden Gin is something I love to use for cocktails with fresh fruits when I’m in a fun mood at a garden party or the beach. Blue Mountain Gin is my G&T of choice. Usually, my knock-off work drinks watching the sunset over the paddock. With our whisky…. it’s got to be neat; too good to mix anything with it. It is sweet with depth and complexity. I like to drink our whisky with a grazing board on games night with friends. When the bottles open, the fun begins.
Interviewed By Aakriti Rawat, Beverage Trade Network