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Catie Fry

Catie Fry, co-founder of Clovendoe Distilling Co. (image supplied)
Catie Fry, co-founder of Clovendoe Distilling Co. (image supplied)

Meet Catie Fry, the Master Distiller and Co-Founder of Clovendoe Distilling Co. The latest distilling company to take the Gold Coast by storm with their non-alcoholic and low-alcohol spirits. Thanks to the help of her long-term friend Sarah Bendy, they both brought the company to the GC early last year and haven’t looked back since. Read on to find out more!

How long has Clovendoe Distilling Co. been on the Coast? 
Clovendoe Distilling Co. was originally launched from Rockhampton in Central Queensland, however, we saw an opportunity (both personally and professionally) and relocated to the Gold Coast in January 2021.

What do you love the most about the Gold Coast? 
We just love the easy-going attitude of the Gold Coast. Many people live here for the sun, surf and outdoors and that generally brings a vibe that is focused on nature, wellbeing and recreation. We find so much inspiration for our business from the local vibe and we also find that locals really get behind local businesses so we couldn’t appreciate being part of the Gold Coast community more!

Catie Fry, co-founder of Clovendoe Distilling Co. (image supplied)
Catie Fry, co-founder of Clovendoe Distilling Co. (image supplied)

Tell us a bit about Clovendoe Distilling Co.
Clovendoe is the first female-owned and operated distilling company in Australia, and the first producing both non-alcoholic and low-alcohol spirits. We are driven by creating products that offer social inclusion, choice and sophistication; meeting the needs of consumers who have become more mindful in their drinking habits. And we are passionate about the art of distilling, using traditional copper-pot stills to curate our spirits, retaining the complexity of the palate and botanical aromas without added sugars or sweeteners. We recently took out a sweep of awards at the Global Spirits Masters blind tasting, with all of our products awarded medals (1 Masters and 5 Gold medals) so we are extraordinarily proud to be competing on the world stage just 2 years into launching Clovendoe.

How did the concept of Clovendoe come about?
Whilst launching a gin and rum distillery with my husband in Central Queensland, I found myself juggling a business and two small children. Leading a busy life and seeking ways to incorporate a social life into my schedule (i.e. struggling with FOMO!!), I combined my love of working with botanicals with creating sophisticated, guilt-free alternatives to alcohol and sugar-loaded soft drinks. After a couple of years of Research & Development and perfecting my recipes, I approached my long-time friend Sarah and together we officially launched Clovendoe Distilling Co. in 2020.

Clovendoe Distilling Co product (image supplied)
Clovendoe Distilling Co product (image supplied)

What do you consider your favourite part(s) of working in this industry?
I am a creative at heart, so I love being able to experiment with botanicals and create new products. I take so much inspiration from nature, collaborating with local growers to find amazing botanicals at our doorstep. All of our products are distilled, small-batch, and all of our botanicals are prepared by hand so a lot of creative passion goes into producing our spirits. Both Sarah and I know the non-alc industry is exploding and we really enjoy being part of an emerging category. Forward-thinking mixologists are curating impressive non-alc drink menus and dedicated non-alc bottle shops are starting to pop up. There is a cultural shift in our drinking habits and we think the booze-free bar cart is here to stay.

How would you describe the flavour profile of your spirits?
Our spirits are crafted in the style of a vodka or gin and created using 21 unique botanicals. Our products are sugar and sweetner-free, so the botanicals are really the star of the show. Each product has a distinctive and unique flavour profile:
– Seed stimulates the senses with the familiar essence of the Australian backyard, infused with organic lavender, rosemary, lemon thyme, lemon myrtle, orange and lemon peel.
– Sprout balances organic rose petals and juniper berries with middle eastern spices including liquorice root, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom.
– Stem is a crisp infusion of citrus notes and fresh, exotic scents of South-East Asia including organic lemongrass, mint, kaffir lime leaf, ginger and galangal.

Catie Fry, co-founder of Clovendoe Distilling Co. (image supplied)
Catie Fry, co-founder of Clovendoe Distilling Co. (image supplied)

What is your favourite spirit(s) from your range? 
My personal favourite is Seed. The botanicals we use are reminiscent of the ‘Australian backyard’ and remind me of my childhood in regional WA. The rosemary shines through nicely with tonic water and it has beautiful subtle floral notes. Sarah loves Sprout, as she says it has a unique flavour profile which transports her to a time when she was working in the Middle East.

Why do you think there has been a surge in demand for zero alcohol products recently? 
We have seen a growing consciousness and focus on wellbeing, mental health, balance and social inclusion. These shifts have people seeking alternate options to alcohol, whether that be abstaining from alcohol, reducing their consumption or simply finding the balance that suits their lifestyle. And we have all been in that situation where as the ‘designated driver,’ the choices are limited to soda water, juice or soft drink. Consumers are now seeking the same choice and sophistication for non-alcoholic options.

Clovendoe ZERO Collection (image supplied)
Clovendoe ZERO Collection (image supplied)

What does a typical day look like for you? 
Running a small business typically means that no day looks the same, our days are diverse and often bring unexpected actions to juggle!  As the Master Distiller, I love days working with our small team in the distillery, prepping botanicals, distilling, experimenting with new flavours and managing orders and deliveries. Other days see me out and about, meeting customers, doing tastings and other events. Sarah is our master organiser, finding time in between to plan, report, order supplies, pay bills and keep all of the logistics in order.

Tell us the best piece of advice someone has ever given you and why you consider it the best?
“Stay in your own lane” which is really about keeping focused and being true to yourself and your strengths.

What are you looking forward to the most in the next 12 months?
I have been working on a new creation using some innovative botanical combinations. Whilst I am currently in the R&D phase, I would love to be able to launch this in the next year as I am really excited about it.

Clovendoe Distilling Co product (image supplied)
Clovendoe Distilling Co product (image supplied)

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café/coffee spot: The Milkman’s Daughter in Mermaid Beach is our favourite cafe. This is why we were so excited when they agreed to add Clovendoe cocktails to their menu!
Restaurant: You can’t beat Siblings in Kirra. The owners are passionate about fine dining and their drinks menu is innovative, it brings happiness just reading the menu!
Bar or place for a drink: We love Capricorn Distilling Co., a local gin and rum distillery in Burleigh Heads.
Beach: We can’t go past our local, Kirra beach for its totally laid-back vibe.

How do you choose to spend your days off?
We love getting outdoors, spending time at the beach, walking, swimming and having BBQ’s with friends. Life can be so busy, so being able to ‘switch off’ is so important.

Paul Messenger

Paul Messenger - Founder of Husk Distillers and Wife Mandaley Perkins (image supplied)
Paul Messenger, Founder of Husk Distillers and wife, Mandaley Perkins (image supplied)

Correct us if we are wrong, but most of us would be pretty well versed in knowing the taste and look of the famous purple liquid that sits behind most bars. And of course, we are referring to none other than the renowned Ink Gin. And ahead of International Gin Day (yes it’s a thing) on the 9th of April, we thought it would be only fitting we interviewed the man behind Ink Gin. Founder of Husk Distillery, Paul Messenger gives us an insight into how Husk came about and what the once-Goldy-local loves about the Coast when he does make the trip up north from his home in Northern NSW.

How long have you been a Northern New South Wales local?
I grew up on the Gold Coast and have fond memories of visiting Tumbulgum as a ten-year-old when the chain ferry ran people and cars across the river. When we realised we wanted to make agricultural rum, Tumbulgum was the first place that came to mind with its fertile soils, abundant water, rich sugar cane history, picturesque river village and close proximity to some of the world’s best surf beaches. It was with enormous satisfaction and a great privilege that we were able to buy Husk Farm in 2011, finally moving here in 2012.

Tell us how Husk came about.
It’s a long story. I was flying over the Nullarbor Plain on my way to a drill rig in the West Australian goldfields in 1998 when I read a story about how a fella by the name of Bill Lark, the Godfather of Tasmanian whisky, lobbied to change the law and allow small craft distilleries to operate legally. That story captured my imagination and over the next 10 years I followed the success of Tasmanian Whisky and wondered how I too could follow this dream. But it was during a Caribbean cruise in 2009 that my distilling ruminations started to take form during an afternoon sipping 20 year-old Rhum Agricoles in a small bar next to a small distillery on the small island of Martinique. While reflecting on the vast fields of sugar cane back home, my dream took on a clarity quite at odds with the relaxed rum haze that became the rest of the afternoon in that charming place. The locals explained to me that rum made from fresh cane juice has “terroir” – the taste and soul of the place where it’s made. As a geologist, the idea of capturing the provenance and spirit of the place where I grew up made my heart skip a beat and that was where our journey began.

Ink Gins from Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Ink Gins from Husk Distillery (image supplied)

What’s your proudest entrepreneurial moment?
Everything we were doing was novel or innovative and it was clear that it would take many years of devotion to perfect our rum and reveal the true spirit of this place. It was also clear that we needed an income fast, and with the early signs of a gin renaissance taking root in England we started looking for quirky gin ingredients. I actually found the colour changing butterfly pea flower early in the journey and had been experimenting with it in liqueurs, vodka, even rum as well as with a range of gin botanicals. I was mixing these concoctions with lemon or lime to make the colour change, but the “eureka moment” came when I mixed an experimental butterfly pea gin with tonic water. The magic of seeing that deep blue liquid transform into a bright, sparkling blush pink colour sensation will stay with me forever, I knew we were onto something big and that butterfly pea gin and tonic would be a match made in heaven.

What’s the most popular Husk Spirit you sell?
At the moment, at least, Ink Gin is by far our most popular spirit, even though we continue to invest heavily in developing a unique Australian expression of a French-style fresh cane juice rum. Ink Gin came about because of the need to generate cash flow and because cane juice rum is seasonal and can only be made during the harvest (August-November). The fact that we spent three years developing the recipe and getting the infusion right meant we had to keep our day jobs for a few more years, but we wanted to make sure that people would buy the first bottle because of the colour but they’d then buy their second for the taste. Ink Gin hit a nerve with people at the right time, when the craft gin boom was about to take off and people were thirsty for something new and different.

Paul Messenger & Quentin Brival from Husk Distillers (image supplied)

What’s your personal favourite Husk Spirit and why?
No question, Husk Pure Cane. This is how all our rums start – it’s the most pure, unadulterated expression of our ‘terroir’, our provenance. Call it what you like, agricole, fresh juice rum or Cultivated Australian Rum, this is a style not well understood in Australia and unaged rums even less so. But in the French Caribbean, where it is as much a part of their heritage and identity, this is how people drink rum – clean, fresh and full of flavour. Drink it in a short ti’ punch, a daiquiri, caipirinha or mojito, but it must be Pure Cane.

What’s a Gin Cocktail recipe you would recommend to all Gin-lovers?
The Southside is one of the classics, that’s also really easy to make at home. Otherwise, you can’t go past the simple G&T. I like simple drinks where you can really taste the quality of the spirit.

What does the next 5 years have in store for Husk Distillery?
The next 5 years will be just as adventurous, bold and busy as the last 10 years. We are investing in the future of Australian rum with a new sugar mill onsite at Husk. This is a complicated project which will take up a lot of my time this year and next. We are also finishing up a new tank farm and barrel storage and we are planning additions to our fermentation capacity and an upgrade to our wastewater treatment. As always we are very focused on quality control and process improvements and we are committed to making Husk Distillers, Tumbulgum one of the safest, most efficient and sustainable distilleries in Australia. You can also expect to see plenty of new product releases, a new Husk Rum brand identity and bottle (shhh…), and lots of new experiences at the Husk cellar door.

Ink Gin from Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Ink Gin from Husk Distillery (image supplied)

When you visit the Gold Coast, what are your favourites…

Café: Café D’Bar after a surf off the rock wall is always a favourite.
Coffee spot: Zephyr Coffee in Kirra is fantastic. And they roast their own beans!
Restaurant: Jimmy Wah’s in Burleigh is great.
Bar or pub for a drink: Rainbow Bay surf club. Best view on the coast.
How do you choose to spend your weekends? 
Surf as much as I can, catch up with work, spend time with my beautiful wife. BBQ with family and friends and share a few Botanicals & tonics. We also enjoy cruising down the coast and catching a show at Bruns Picture House. Ending up in the Brunswick pub also makes for a great Saturday night.

Luke Ridden

Luke Ridden is a man passionate about the Gold Coast and in particular, our thriving creative and small business communities.

As co-owner of two of our absolute favourite venues, Granddad Jacks Craft Distillery and Burleigh Co-Op, he’s committed to showing the rest of the world just how incredible our city is. Not to mention, he’s one of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet.

We sat down for a chat about how Granddad Jacks came about and their inaugural batch of whiskey.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have been on the Gold Coast for 12 years now.

What do you love most about living here?
I really love the art and culture vibe that’s taking over the Coast as well as the foodie scene especially down near us in Burleigh. The growth in the area has created a lot of opportunity for small business owners like myself. I also enjoy the fact that we don’t have as many people as the bigger cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane do and this means that not only is it a more cruisy lifestyle here with nice people but also that not just any small café, restaurant, brewery or distillery can survive. You have to be good to survive and if you’re not, we don’t have the overflow of people to sustain your business.

Tell us how your Miami distillery, Granddad Jack’s, came about?
My father and I were always close to our grandfather, David Goulding AKA Granddad Jack who passed away in 2012. Ever since he passed away, we’ve wanted to pay homage to him in one way or another. Fast forward to late November 2017 and we were talking over a few beers when my old man asked what I thought about starting a distillery. After a few Google searches and some YouTube time I figured it was a great idea. I headed down to Tasmania and then Dad and I headed over to the USA to learn and understand what craft distilling was all about. The day we landed back in Australia we secured the building and I started demolishing at 5pm that night. Seven months, 15 skip bins and an almost entire rebuild later, we opened in late August 2018 with whiskey in barrels and three gins available.

What did you want to bring to the city by opening it?
I wanted to bring something that didn’t exist, something fresh and new and something that would compliment the great community and awesome businesses that are around us in Miami/Burleigh. It was also very important to me that it was truly a local’s spot where dogs, families and pushies are always welcome.

You built the entire space yourselves, what did it take to bring it all together?
A lot of hours, love, a detailed brief, attention to detail, an amazing architect and a small but world-class team of tradies.

You’ve just released a ‘Make your own gin’ series for Gold Coasters, what do people get who attend?
A truly unique experience that includes a tour of our distillery from myself and my father, a gin tasting, gin history lesson, gin and tonics, pizza, a complete distillation of your own 500ml bottle of custom gin that you have created and even the chance to win the opportunity to have your custom made gin become a small batch release to be sold in our tasting room. What more could you want? I’m biased but damn that’s some value crammed into four hours!

You’re in the process of making a batch of whiskey, talk to us about that…
Just last week, we made over 5000 litres of what’s called whiskey wash (basically un–hopped beer) that will ferment, creating a mixture containing around 10% alcohol which will then be distilled into our single malt, bourbon style, rye and peated whiskeys.

You also co-own a cafe, Burleigh Co-Op, what’s the vibe there?
Burleigh Co-Op is truly a place that’s by the people for the people! With seven different businesses coming together to create a clean, refreshing spot for Gold Coasters to enjoy world class food and great locally made coffee.

What else is in the works for 2019?
A bunch more fun! Every month Granddad Jacks will be releasing a small batch creation. Everything from coffee liqueurs to agave spirits will be on offer. There is a distillery experience at least once a month and a lot more five questions videos on our socials where we get to introduce epic locals to the rest of our followers. Wherever there is an opportunity for me to create something new I’ll be jumping at it! A lot can happen in seven months.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast: Burleigh Co-Op of course!
Restaurant: It’s a three-way way tie – Restaurant Labart, Hideaway and Fredrick’s.
Coffee spot: I’m a Cold Brew fan so Burleigh Co-Op or Commune
Where do you like to spend your time off: I love being able to hang out with my five-month-old boy Archer and my better half Jess. However, I love what I do so I never truly feel like I take time off and my mind is always going a thousand miles an hour.

Burleigh Co-Op

Alana Clarkson

Alana Clarkson (image supplied)
Alana Clarkson (image supplied)

We love an active lifestyle here on the GC. And I mean, who wouldn’t?! We live with the hinterland in our backyard and the beaches out the front. So, ample space to get the heart rate up, or at the very least look good trying! But one thing we aren’t fans of is the notorious sweating that comes with being active. Well ladies, that could be a thing of the past with a Gold Coast-born activewear brand, Idea Athletic. Let us introduce you to Alana Clarkson, the Founder, and your new saviour to your sweaty qualms.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
We moved to the GC at the end of 2018. I had always lived in Sydney which is where I am from. We came up to Burleigh for a short holiday in 2018 and then decided after that trip that we were going to make the move. I think we came home arranged everything and moved up in the space of 6 weeks. It was a fast turnaround but we knew it was the right choice for our family.

What do you love the most about the Gold Coast?
I love how it is such a healthy and outdoors-focused lifestyle. The weather is fabulous all year round and it encourages you to be outside whether it be at the beach, riding a bike, or doing some other form of exercise. A healthy lifestyle is one of the biggest draw cards for me.

Idea Athletic Founder, Alana Clarkson, with models (image supplied)
Idea Athletic Founder, Alana Clarkson, with models (image supplied)

Tell us a bit about you.
I live in Palm Beach nice and close to the beach with my husband, our two beautiful girls and our two dogs. We are very fortunate that we can pop down to the beach for a swim anytime and in the summer on the weekends you’ll usually find us at the beach for the morning and in the pool for the afternoon. I love to exercise and any chance I can get I’ll be doing something active whether it be walking with friends or reformer pilates. I love to move my body every day, it keeps me feeling centred and calm. On the professional front, I have spent over 20yrs working in financial services and now co-run an executive search recruitment firm with my hubby which we’ve had for the last 9 years. Our business covers the Asia Pacific region so we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to be based wherever we like so we’ve chosen the GC. I’m pretty happy with that choice!

Explain to us how Idea Athletic came about.
Idea Athletic came about through me trying to buy a particular type of activewear that focused on crotch and bust sweat minimisation directly and not being able to find it. When I couldn’t find what I wanted to buy I created it! I felt that many women didn’t wear certain activewear colours out of fear of sweat marks blotting up their crotch, butt and bust and I wanted to change that so women (myself included) could wear all the colours with confidence. Further to this, I was also a fitness instructor on weekends (my passion job) for over a decade and during that time had many a conversation about sweat in those areas and how it had bothered women, so I’d actually done 10yrs of market research already without even realising it.

Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)
Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)

What was the process behind coming up with / discovering and sourcing this innovative fabric?
The process took me 2.5yrs of trial and error. I could see so clearly what it was that I wanted to create and how it would work but it really took time to get it there. A lot of sampling different types of fabrics and designs to see what would work best and a lot of time on a treadmill for me aswell really putting them to the sweat test. It was a long process and one that involved a lot of research and patience to get it to where I wanted it to be. The finished result is one that I am very proud of and one that solved my own personal issue which is how it all started in the first place.

How is your range different to other brands?
invisiSweat is our key point of difference. Our Australian Innovation Patented invisiSweat is what makes all Idea Athletic garments unique. It is strategic panels throughout the crotch, inner thigh and bottom region and all through the bust which is lined with our invisiSweat fabric which is a specialty thickness bamboo based fabric. As the name suggests its invisible to the outside world and not bulky to wear. This invisiSweat technology is what stops the sweat from blotting up your activewear so you can go from a high-intensity session and straight to brunch without the concern of sweat marks in places you don’t want them to be seen.

What makes running a business on the Gold Coast so great?
The people. We have so many talented individuals on the Coast and if it hadn’t been for starting Idea Athletic, I may never have had the opportunity with work with them, so I’m very fortunate.

Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)
Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)

What is your favourite form of exercise?
I love all movement. Anything and everything I will try. But in a normal week I usually mix it up between cardio and weights and reformer pilates. It’s a good varied mix and it works for me.

What does a typical day in the life of you look like?
My day usually starts early and I get up and we organise the kids breakfast, school lunches, homework and get them off on their way for the day. I’ll usually answer emails as well during this time. I’ll then do 1hr of exercise and then shower and work at my desk until school pick-up time. After that it’s after-school activities and I’ll get myself to a pilates reformer class if I can whilst the girls are at an activity. After that it’s home, dinner and I’ll do some more work, then some family time before the kids are off to bed, and then not long afterward I’ll watch some tv and get to bed myself. We have a lot happening each day but it’s a good balance and one that works for our family unit.

Tell us the best piece of advice someone has ever given you and why you consider it the best?
“There is always another way.” I think of this one-liner both professionally and personally so much. In life, we are always facing different challenges and events and for me when a situation may feel like there is no workaround I always think to myself “there is always another way” and it allows me to think outside the box to find a solution, whatever it may be.

Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)
Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)

What can we expect from Idea Athletic in the next year?
Being a new business it’s an exciting time for us as we continue on our path of growth and building our brand awareness further. We have some new styles we are working on as well which I can’t wait to release in the coming months. And of course, you’ll be hearing a lot more from us about sweat and how awesome and healthy it is.

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café:
Dune Cafe, Palm Beach
Coffee spot: Third Base Coffee, Palm Beach
Restaurant: Restaurant Labart, Burleigh
Bar or pub for a drink: I can’t ever go past Palm Beach Surf Club for a drink with an amazing view. I also love local small-bar Suga as they have great service and awesome cocktails.

How do you choose to spend your days off?
With my family always. I just can’t get enough of my little girls, they bring so much joy to my life. Also catching up with friends for lunch or dinner is always something I love to do.

Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)
Idea Athletic Australia (image supplied)
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