Kingsley distiller Warren Fish produces gin at Paul Conti Wines in Woodvale

Warren Fish in his Grumpy Fish Distillery at Paul Conti Wines. Picture: Martin Kennealey d487383
Warren Fish in his Grumpy Fish Distillery at Paul Conti Wines. Picture: Martin Kennealey d487383

GIN is now being produced at one of Perth’s famous wineries.

Distiller Warren Fish is leasing an area at Paul Conti Wines in Woodvale to produce his Grumpy Fish gin.

A desire to make the best possible, small-batch gin imaginable led the Kingsley resident to create the recently launched spirit.

Warren, a company director by profession, spends part of his time travelling and consulting to remote mining outposts in WA’s North-West. However, creating alchemy in the distillery, along with “Shirley” the hard-working still, is what gives him the most joy.

Leasing a modest area of about 40sq m at Conti’s, Warren said approaching Paul Conti earlier this year was a natural progression, especially with regard to reusing an agricultural product that would normally go to waste.

“We share the same values on sustainability and recycling,” Warren said.

“Any of the wine, or final pressings that would normally be discarded, is used to make the gin base.

“What sets us apart from many other gin producers is that we make our own base-spirit.

“Many distilleries buy-in the base spirit, then simply infuse botanical flavours into it. This is a much cheaper and quicker option, with the opportunity for higher production output.

“However, this goes completely against the grain of our quality philosophy,” said Warren, who produces about 70 bottles per run.

According to Warren, the art of making a custom base-spirit, gives the gin a much softer, less astringent quality compared to other commercial or so called ‘artisanal’ brands in the market.

“I immediately detect a distinctive ‘clinical’ taste to mainstream base-spirits – and it’s a taste you can’t disguise,” he says.

Grumpy Fish gin. Picture: Martin Kennealey

He runs the wine and other ingredients through the still, which boils off the alcohol and purifies it, making for a high-quality neutral spirit, or vodka.

This is then passed through a further distillation process which imbues the spirit with a medley of certified organic, gin botanicals.

“We use up to 18 different botanicals, alongside the holy trinity of gin – juniper berries, Orris root and Angelica root,” he says.

“These are the binding agents that carry the rest of the flavours which, in our case, include cardamom, lavender, geranium leaves, orange, lemon and lime peel, cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves.”

Grumpy Fish Gin is available through grumpyfishgin.com.au, select Perth bars and from the cellar door at Paul Conti Wines (529 Wanneroo Road, Woodvale).

WHAT’S IN A NAME

There was never any doubt about what Warren Fish’s gin would be called.

“If it’s going to be called anything, it should be called Grumpy Fish gin,” Warren’s wife Susan said. “Because she calls me grumpy bastard,” Warren said.

The new gin maker grew up in South Africa and picked up tips from Cape winemakers who were also distillers.

Daughters Emily (20) and Erin (16) have shown an interest in his craft, particularly the former who is “studying engineering and enjoys the science behind the still”.