Port city project says cheers to the latest trendy drink

d496615a Republic of Fremantle Master Distiller Oliver Kitson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
d496615a Republic of Fremantle Master Distiller Oliver Kitson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

A FREMANTLE project is capitalising on the fact that gin is in.

The Republic of Fremantle has started making gin and vodka at its Pakenham Street premises, with a product launch due in March and the hospitality side of the venue scheduled to open in autumn.

Fremantle locals Jason Townes and Matt Giudice, part of the team behind popular venues Strange Company and Ronnie Nights, and John McVeigh are the men responsible.

Gin distillery gets approval

An impressive German-built still is at the centre of the Republic of Fremantle and there will be a bar, kitchen and a gin school where individual stills will enable enthusiasts to blend their own botanicals and take home a bottle of their own creation.

The trio had been bouncing around the idea of a distillery for years and after some investigations in the UK, they decided to “push the button” and get going on the project.

Mr Townes said they discovered that many brands in the UK were not making their own gin or even their own spirits.

“We developed the idea of making our spirit from a natural produce from here in WA; it’s South West grapes and winemakers from down there,” he said.

“Our pillar gins are based around two concepts: one is a WA riesling and the other is a full-bodied red wine.”

Through contacts in the UK, the locals were connected with master distiller Oliver Kitson, who had worked at Purity Brewing and Sipsmith.

“Coming here and being able to make my own spirit is a unique opportunity to craft something very different,” Mr Kitson said.

“Rather than starting off with a blank canvas and putting botanicals on it, I’ve actually got a base that has character already. It’s really exciting to come to WA and do something that is pretty special and new.”

Mr Townes said he believed the popularity of gin came from it being a universal drink.

“I’m surprised it hasn’t had its day earlier than this,” he said.

d496615m Oliver Kitson. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

Gin connoisseurs across Perth are invited to become “citizens” of the republic by putting in money in exchange for benefits such as receiving bottles of gin and an invite to the venue’s opening.

Visit the website for more information.