Distillers are a fascinating breed: part alchemist, part virtuoso, blended with a generous splash of unique personality and singular vision.
Welcome to Meet the Distiller, a series where we get to learn a bit more about the Aussie distillers who create for us some of the finest hand-crafted spirits in the world.
Ian Glen from Stone Pine Distillery in Bathurst, NSW
Affectionately known as ‘Gint’ - a portmanteau of gin and gent - Ian Glen is the brains, braun and brilliance behind Stone Pine Distillery in Bathurst, NSW.
His gins are spectacular, his rums cleverly nuanced and all are lovingly hand-crafted, made with native Australian botanicals - many of which Ian forages for locally himself.
Here’s more about the man behind the still, the Stone behind the Pine, the Ian in the Glen.
1. How did you get started as a distiller?
I completed a Biochemistry degree at Sydney University in 1991, with no idea what to do next, so backpacking around Europe and Africa seemed like a good idea for a few years, working in bars and hotels along the way.
While working at Doctor’s Bar in Edinburgh, I heard about a Post-Grad course in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, which I figured would combine my scientific knowledge with my love of beer and spirits.
I have worked in the industry ever since, starting at Brewing Research International in England, before running Portgordon Maltings in Scotland, and then coming back to Australia in 2006 to set up Stone Pine Distillery.
2. What do you love about being a distiller?
I enjoy the process of transforming basic raw materials into a complex spirit, with gin and spiced rum being the biggest challenge, given the amount of ingredients required, and the necessity to have all the flavours in balance.
3. What makes Stone Pine special?
I have always striven to be original and put my own touch on whatever spirit I produce. This was a little easier back in 2008 when we started, when there were very few Australian distilleries, and Australian gin was virtually unheard of. It has been amazing to see the change in the last 12 years.
4. What is Stone Pine’s flagship spirit and what’s your favourite way to enjoy it?
Our Seasonal Orange Blossom Gin, now in its fifth vintage (the original 2016 release became the House Gin at Noma [voted the world’s best restaurant], so we hit the ground running with this one). I like it with a good quality tonic water, ice and a slice of orange.
5. What’s something we should know about craft distilling in Australia?
It’s a fun industry to work in, but definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. You can therefore guarantee that whatever craft spirit you try has been produced with care and not by someone trying to make a quick buck.
6. Some people think that distilling is a dangerous pastime. Any near-death experiences?
Nothing approaching death thankfully, but I did need a fresh pair of boxer shorts the time the still’s pressure relief system blew. It was pretty loud, and filled the distillery with a massive cloud of steam. I only did that once!