Food and Drink


Craft & Co distillery class

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I’ve the scene many times:

A cold, blustery Melbourne evening, one in which I’ve rushed from work, always with the wrong shoes. Undoubtedly it’s either rained that day or been raining as I’ve walked over, so I’m wet and my feet are cold and I’d do anything for a wine (or three). The beaming glow from the lights of The Craft & Co practically sing to me and as I walk through the large glass doors, I’m hit with the familiar cuddle of the heat, people and atmosphere of my favourite Smith Street spot.

It’s sad, because this is the last of the classes I’ll have the opportunity to do with C&C. Tonight, we’re learning about the art of distilling liquor with the head of distilling projects, Sebastian Raeburn.

Seriously. Craft have absolutely nailed their hiring process judged purely by the people they’ve had present the series of events I’ve attended. Everyone is engaging, passionate and unbelievably knowledgeable in their field. I can tell we’re in for a fantastic evening with Sebastian just by the document he’s provided on the class which includes quotes such as ‘we love the idea of sipping our way to a stronger economy!’ and ‘the art is in managing the still to deliver the flavour you want’.

People who refer to their job as art are certainly the kind of people I want to pay attention to.

Of course, we’re greeted and seated with a sample of Craft’s distilling projects – a gin and tonic complimented by lime and rosemary. The taste and scents bang against one another in a beverage sensation, a preview of what we’re pretty damn lucky to be getting an insight into this evening.

Sebastian takes us in the bits and pieces of the distilling process, explaining what distillation is, what’s involved, the equipment required, and pairs all this information with relatable examples on the do’s and don’ts of what a makes a successful distilled spirit. The detail Sebastian goes into is wonderful and his passion for his craft continues to project as he takes us through the distilling plant, stepping us through the intricacies of the process.

Craft specialise in Grappa (distillation of the waste leftover from winemaking), whisky (distillation of beer) and gin (flavoured vodka, of which an ingredient must is juniper). We get a sample of the house distilled gin and just….what have I even tasted. It’s a whole new league of gin, seriously unlike any kind I’ve tasted before, with an unmistakable, undefinable blend of sharp earthiness. The whole table is humming in appreciation of the tasting and I think if we could, we’d beg for more.

Sebastian even interjects a bit of humour and takes us through the process of ‘Starting Your Own Spirit Brand’ in just ten steps. It’s really more of an insight into how the distilling industry works, what sets all players apart and also what identifies Australia as a leader in the gin sector. It’s worth remembering that it’s no longer about big industries – no more ‘big fish eat small fish’ as opposed to ‘fast fish eat slow fish’. The key is making the first step fast once you’ve decided on something you love, which is clearly where distilleries like Craft really stand out.

Seriously. If nothing I’ve written previously has made you visit this fantastic space, clear your calendar. Food, drink, people, community, education – they’ve stumbled upon something uniquely wonderful and spectacularly Melbourne, and it just keeps getting better.

The Craft & Co 
390 Smith Street, Collingwood

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