A Devonport gin distillery has offered a lifeline to some North-West growers impacted by the fruit fly incursion.
Distiller George Burgess, of Southern Wild Distillery, has created gin liqueurs using fruit which can not be sold due to fruit fly detections in the region as well as the north and Flinders Island.
“Because of the fruit fly incursion farmers are having to find somewhere to store this season’s crop and freezing is one option but it means if they’ve still got last season’s crop in the freezer something has to go,” Mr Burgess said.
“I'm able to take that old crop and process it here to turn it into something delicious which at least gives some return.
“I think I could do a couple of tonne a week. We’ve got a strawberry gin liqueur it’s absolutely gorgeous and a local apple variety which is delicious. Testing pears is also on our list.”
Mr Burgess said he already had cherries in a distillery tank.
“Any local fruit I’m prepared to experiment with,” he said.
“Fruit fly is potentially devastating for the state and the poor growers right at the peak of growing season have had exports completely shut down. I’ve no idea how they manage to smile.”
Mr Burgess had seen demand at his fledgling year-old gin business grow in recent months so much he decided to close his temporary distillery and bar in Fenton Way to increase production. He aimed to relocate to a new much larger venue at Providore Place, off Oldaker Street, by about Easter.
“It’s been nuts since October and because of the growth we forecast the need for more production space,” Mr Burgess said.
“The new distillery is double the size and we can’t wait.”
Southern Wild Distillery produces Dasher+Fisher gin made in a copper still designed by Mr Burgess. The ex-food technologist said for him it was all about “regionality and seasonality” terms normally associated with food and wine but not gin.
“It’s because a lot of the ingredients we get are locally sourced,” he said. He has 24 families providing fresh ingredients to the distillery which employed 12 people.