Imperial Hotel manager Paul Thomas, left, and head distiller Mick Reif with their new lines of gin.
Imperial Hotel manager Paul Thomas, left, and head distiller Mick Reif with their new lines of gin.

‘Gin-tellectual’ approach has distiller in high spirits

Environmental scientist Mick Reif can be found Mondays at the Imperial Hotel's distillery in Eumundi working on his "gin-tellectual" credentials.

Mr Reif conjures his magic in the pub's custom-built copper still to turn out their new label, Folktale Gin.

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The 43-year-old has been be shaken and stirred by his passion for perfecting an exceptional drop since he learnt his craft in Tasmania's distilleries.

"I thought getting involved in the distilling game would be quite difficult and if you wanted to set up something yourself you'd be looking at a very large capital outlay," Mr Reif said.

"But the more I spent time with the distillers in Tassie, I thought maybe this is as far-fetched as I thought.

"I guess I was in the right place at the right time," he said.

Mr Reif has used the finest traditional ingredients including English juniper, English angelica root, coriander seed, lavender flower, cassia bark, cardamom and fresh citrus then combined them with Australian native lemon and anise myrtles and pepperberry.

The final ingredient in his 43 per cent proof mix is Cooroy Mountain spring water.

Eumundi Distillers Paul Thomas, head distiller Mick Reif, Jack Harvison, Maia Bradley and front, Simone Worts.
Eumundi Distillers Paul Thomas, head distiller Mick Reif, Jack Harvison, Maia Bradley and front, Simone Worts.

With a 20-year background in conservation and land management, Mr Reif has a keen interest in local botany.

"The beauty of gin is it's so wide and varied, the only ingredient you have to put in is juniper and there's a whole range of traditional botanicals people associate with gin, but being here in Eumundi, I try to get the local flavours," he said.

The second signature gin is the Folktale Navy Strength Eumundi Gin - with a hearty 57.1 per cent alcohol content.

"Combining fresh local ginger, limes and lemon myrtle, our Navy Strength Gin gives a real taste of Eumundi and the Sunshine Coast," Mr Reif said.

A fine new drop of gin is now on sale at the Imperial Hotel’s Eumundi Distillers.
A fine new drop of gin is now on sale at the Imperial Hotel’s Eumundi Distillers.

The gin is the Imperial's nod to when many a scurvy sea-dog was paid a spirited bonus.

"In the days when sailors' pay included a daily ration of alcohol, high strength spirits were the drink of choice," Mr Reif said.

"And if sailors were suspicious that the captain was watering down the drink, they'd call for proof."

He said a drop of spirit was added to a small amount of gunpowder and lit with a match.

"If the powder flared, the spirit was proved," he said.

"If the captain had been adding water to the barrel, the powder would not burn."

The distilling team will also be releasing a range of seasonal varieties only available at the pub's tasting bar and he's encouraging the local patrons to make new suggestions for their own versions.

"You're talking about a drink that's been wildly popular for over 300 years and it goes in fashion probably every 100 years and probably in the last 20 years there's been a real resurgence," Mr Reif said.