Date: May 29th, 2018, Posted by Wild Diamond
Do you get up, go to work, and start drinking gin at 7am?
So how do I manage to run a distillery business without being off-my-face?
If any of you have come to the Wild Diamond tasting room and sampled the goods you’ll know my background is as a herbalist. Herbal lore, (and knowing a little bit of maths), is a great secret to being able to sample distillation runs and finished products without endangering myself or society. The trick is drop tasting.
At Wild Diamond we sample using our ‘anatomical snuff box’. “What the heck is that?!” you ask.
Many herbalists taste liquid herbal extracts and tinctures using our hands… when the thumb is bent and lifted backwards, a small bowl forms between the thumb and the wrist, with the tendons either side. Using an eyedropper, a small amount of liquid can be dropped into the ‘snuff box’ and then tasted across the tongue. Yep, we all stand around licking our hands. I don’t pat the dog with the back of my hand, so it’s a relatively safe ‘taste zone’ on the hand to use without adulteration.
The assumption that I’m an alcoholic and prone to overindulge has been made on several occasions since starting Wild Diamond distillery. I can only laugh, at what is not really a laughing matter, as that assumption is quite far from the truth. One person even went as far as to call me an “Alcoholic bootlegger”. The eyedropper and snuff box has been a fantastic work-tool to avoid that ugliness, and I’m grateful to my herbalist training for that. Here’s where the maths also helps…. A dropper contains 1ml of liquid, and three to five drops are used per tasting. That’s ¼ of a millilitre if we’re being generous, as 1ml is usually 20 to 25 drops. A standard alcoholic drink of 42% Alc/vol gin is 30ml. Guess what this means?!
I could do 120 tastings before I’d had a standard drink.
At Wild Diamond I am very keen on quality being a preference over quantity for consumption. Like Four Pillars distillery in Australia says “Drink better, not more”. I agree.
So in order to bring you the best quality gin possible for your enjoyment, here’s to all the safe samplings to make sure Wild Diamond is the best it can be for you!
Date: May 25th, 2018, Posted by Wild Diamond
We are encouraged to eat seasonally, right? But what about drinking? Should we also consider consuming our beverages as consciously as we do our food?
Embracing this concept, we are doing things at Wild Diamond a little differently. Our philosophy is to connect people with plants, and deliver the essence of nature. In nature we have seasons, with each one delivering us a bounty of unique botanicals. These grounding and earthly delights are harvested mindfully and by hand to ensure only the best flowers, berries, leaves and stems are selected for each batch we create. We get to know each and every bottle as each one represents our alpine environment at a moment in time.
We are readily losing our local foraging places in and around Wanaka, and across the world where pure, non-chemical affected, nature grown plants can be accessed freely. The growing areas are narrowing, and urbanization is increasing. When plants grow in the wild, they face challenges… just the same way we humans do when put under a little pressure. It is these challenges like wind and water variants, and attacks by other animal and insects that stimulate the plant to create some of their most desirable constituents. And it is those WILD elements of the plant that are so special to Wild Diamond spirits.
This is also why Wild Diamond’s philosophy of connecting people with plants is so vital. We are passionate about the importance of our biodiversity, and the purity of our land, before it is all changed into something we cannot get back.
Our alpine environment has many exciting berries, plants and flowers still waiting to be combined. That’s why we embarked on this mission to match traditional gin botanicals with wild, local, seasonal ingredients to create an intriguingly smooth and rare botanical Dry Gin and Vodka.
Our botanicals are combined with grain spirit and pure alpine water, craft distilled and hand bottled right here in Wanaka. Our Limited Edition range will reflect an ever-changing array of foraged botanicals, harvested at best point in their season and therefore each season’s batches will bring a little vintage variation, while upholding consistency.
Date: May 16th, 2018, Posted by Wild Diamond
Embarking upon a new business in an industry you’ve never been a part of, at the bottom of the planet, may seem absurd to many people. This is certainly true for, Claire Iredale, Director and Distiller of Wild Diamond, a craft distillery of Botanical Spirits. A sense of adventure, challenge and determination launched Wild Diamond, with the aim of crafting exceptional botanical Gin and Vodka in September 2017, which was then encouraged by winning the Chorus Entrepreneur Scholarship through CUBE in November 2017.
Having been working in the IT industry for the last seven years as a Software Quality Analyst, a redundancy meant a great opportunity for a career change for Claire. With her previous background as a Naturopath and Herbalist, and the question in mind “what would I want to do everyday for the rest of my life”, Claire’s answer was “I want to connect people with plants”. Thus Wild Diamond’s philosophy was born. Claire’s previous training as a Naturopath and Herbalist then took a flying leap into the scientific and creative realm of distilling Gin and Vodka.
What would I want to do everyday… I want to connect people with plants
Plants are powerful and wonderful entities. Claire had been making and sharing plant medicines with clients for years, but via a client-by-client method. In order to leverage manufacturing to a wider audience, and to make it a viable business income, the concept of bringing plant extracts to people needed to be looked at in a different way. Herbal tonics have been historically delivered through teas and alcohol. Gin is one of Western tradition’s most renowned botanical concoctions, and includes Juniper and Coriander amongst up to 25 other botanical ingredients. So much of our daily life has lost connection with the raw ingredients that make up our food, drinks and medicines. Wild Diamond botanical Gin and Vodka was established as a way to reconnect people with an incredible plant experience.
Claire says, “Be assured, the hypocrisy of a Naturopath creating alcoholic beverages, is one I can laugh about with anyone who is brave enough to mention it. Mostly, people are simply fascinated when I can put the raw plants into their hands that made up the delicious beverage they are sipping. Quality over quantity is something we can all appreciate”.
Quality over quantity is something we can all appreciate
The main philosophy of connecting people with plants and earth continues through Wild Diamond’s sustainability practices. The aim is to keep the impact on the planet as light as possible, while providing a mindful alcohol choice for consumers. The bottle has been chosen for it’s lighter impact on shipping fuel consumption, and is also completely reusable and recyclable. The glass closure minimises plastic use, and makes for a beautiful water bottle upon second use. Renewable energy is used at the distillery, packaging is recycled, and organic ingredients are sourced at every possible opportunity. Many botanicals are hand harvested in the local area, in a delicate and sustainable manner. There are always more ways the sustainability processes can be improved, and this is a fun journey of discovery, problem solving and invention along the way.
… a mindful alcohol choice for consumers
As Wild Diamond builds a local New Zealand brand we can all be proud of, (imagine a blend of the sophistication of James Bond with the adventure spirit of Bear Grylls), we can look up into the night sky and see all the Wild Diamonds… look across the lake and see the rugged mountains reflected in the crystal water, the Wild Diamond… play amongst the snow field powder with the sunlight sparkling through a million scattered Wild Diamonds… and know that together we are part of our incredible Southern Alps environment, and part of the Wild Diamond adventure.