There used to be an old saying: There’s nonesuch. In other words, ‘there’s none better’. To Rex Burdon, whose passion started way back in the corporate world, there was no better name for his beautiful gin.
We visited Rex in his distillery, a short drive out of Sorell at Forcett, and up a country lane. He worked with the original owner of the land, an entrepreneurial sheep farmer, and together they chose a high piece near the original farmhouse, that overlooks sea and pasture – sublime.
Rex takes tours when he’s not busy distilling so if you want to meet the man, make the trip. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. And the sloe gin is definitely worth it! OMG! I bought my first bottle of sloe gin at a gin tasting late last year at Narynna, a beautifully preserved heritage house in Battery Point.
The gin was saved for my trip to Brisbane and my brother. (Shows I have some self-control, at times). We shared it on some long hot Queensland afternoons, and decided that we had died and gone to Gin heaven. This is the most perfectly balanced blend of fruit and spirit I have yet to try.
Being allowed into this new and pristine space where it all happens is such a treat, and Rex is the consummate host. His knowledge is broad, and his care is there for all to see. He’s found his life’s work when most people are retired, playing golf and arguing with their spouses.
Not the Burdons! Rex and Annette form a powerful team, and Rex’s former life in the corporate world was a good grounding for his own business and its genesis. And he has patience. Something he tells me all brewers, distillers and vignerons need.
If he feels that the brew for his sloe gin needs more time on the fruit? So be it. He’d rather wait and have the best product he can make, than rush, and have that niggling guilt that his patience should have won out.
Want to know about sloe berries? Well, they come from the blackthorn bush, something the new settlers planted around their properties to keep the convicts out. The bushes have long, black thorns that don’t muck about, ostensibly to keep the precious fruit safe from prey. They also were the ‘crown of thorns’ that JC wore, carrying the cross, according to historians.
The side product of the bushes, the sloe berries, have been used in distilling in the UK for centuries, but few have taken up the task here. And that’s where the famous Bill Lark comes in. Acclaimed as one of the world’s best distillers, Bill is a generous mentor to new producers, and pointed Rex in the direction of these tart fruit when Rex mentioned he was looking at setting up a gin distillery.
Again, this video is just a small taste of Rex’s world, and we filmed his guided tour through his process for our new membership site, Cook and Cauldron. But I hope you enjoy this small taster of a happy man, doing his life’s work. And it’s never too late to follow a passion. And the rest, is coming up soon.
And what does Rex say about his sea and tree and gin change? In Rex’s words? “Just go for it.”
Have you been out to Rex’s gindom in Forcett? It’s really just a short drive from Hobart and so very worth the trip. Just call Rex and make sure he’s home. And send him my regards.