Before he owned a distillery Michael Ward reckons he barely drank a drop.
Now he enjoys ending the day with a refreshing mix of his own wild citrus vodka, lime juice, soda and plenty of ice.
This former Tasmanian property developer found himself the proud owner of a distillery in order to satisfy a desire of his wife Alla.
Alla’s family hails from Russia where the relationship with liqueur is akin to Australia’s love of beer.
The couple arrived at Mt Tamborine from the chilly shores of Tasmania in 1992 and bought their property.
They hadn’t been at their new home long when Alla announced she ‘wouldn’t mind making some schnapps’.
“It’s just a childhood thing for Alla, she was brought up with it in her genes, I think most “Énew Australian’ families had a still bubbling away in the corner,” says Michael.
“We got our licences and our first distillery was in our laundry.
“Soon I said ‘We’d better build a bigger building’ so we sourced recycled timber from Brett’s Wharf and built a new distillery, it’s a Tudor design.”
Michael quickly realised the key to success would be to appeal to a niche market. So he aimed for the top end, creating boutique mixes which feature indigenous Australian ingredients.
His range of 70 liqueurs are sold in bottles which have been hand painted by local artists.
He opened the doors of his ‘hobby’ to the public on July 1, 1998 and has been regaling visitors with his very animated stories ever since.
His liqueurs, which feature native local ingredients, have won a slew of awards over the years.
“We also stock produce from local farmers and make all sorts of different concoctions,” he says.
“I really like to use indigenous things to Australia, flowers, fruits, seeds.
“I make a great Eucalypt greenleaf vodka, there’s also a lemon myrtle vodka and a waffle toffee liqueur.”