Kentucky-brewed Dobson's Distillery takes out double gold for New England gin at San Francisco World Spirits Cup

DYNAMIC DUO: Father-son team Stephen Dobson and Josh Dobson have taken out the double gold for their gin at the San Francisco Spirits World Cup.
DYNAMIC DUO: Father-son team Stephen Dobson and Josh Dobson have taken out the double gold for their gin at the San Francisco Spirits World Cup.

SICK of Australia’s dog and pony show, Dobson’s Distillery owners Stephen and Josh Dobson took their gin to the world stage and pulled a double gold.

The quirky father-son team distill at Kentucky, in the NSW New England region, and their methods are more interesting than most.

“I made a conscious decision when I started to take all the thermometers off the stills,” Mr Dobson said.

“A distiller who only knows how to use a thermometer is at a distinct disadvantage and possibly dangerous – so we teach our distillers to use their senses because nothing will get you to make pure spirit like knowing you have to taste anything impure.”

The San Francisco Spirits World Cup is like the Olympics of spirits, and Dobson’s took out double gold for their New England Dry Gin, a silver for their Le Caf liqueur and a bronze for the Belle Epoque Single Malt Whiskey.

It’d be like poking your tongue out at the Queen on Coronation Day.

Stephen Dobson

But what’s really impressive is the silver handed to son Josh Dobson’s first ever creation – the Sweet Pea Gin, known for it’s intense flavour and change of colour.

Josh said the way the gin, famous for the way it changes from purple to pink, was anything but a happy accident.

“It was definitely intentional, traditionally sweet pea is used in teas and alternative medicines for its analgesic benefits.

“It’s a fun gimmick, people enjoy it.

“I think the flavour is what keeps people coming back, that’s something I’m really happy with but getting it consistent is always a challenge with the seasonality of citrus fruits.”

THE ARTIST: Dobson's Distillery owner Stephen Dobson at the speak easy. Photo: Josh Dobson

THE ARTIST: Dobson's Distillery owner Stephen Dobson at the speak easy. Photo: Josh Dobson

The gin made at Dobson’s has a slightly different end product each time, made with 27 organic botanicals – there are distinct variations in flavour, and it all depends on the season.

The making of sweet pea created a bit of a struggle between the duo, Mr Dobson said.

“It’s a spirit I fought with him a bit, I thought the colour could be darker, the flavours too intense – he disagreed and had the strength in his convictions, I’m so proud of him for that, because it’s exactly what I would have done.

“To have my son work beside me is one of the greatest honours of my life, a real privilege. I think there’s a time in a man’s life when you should be eclipsed, and I think my time is nigh."

“And who better to be eclipsed by than two people who I have enormous time for and enormous respect for?”

Josh never saw himself taking up the post in Kentucky, growing up in Sydney he wanted to pursue a career in animation.

But life had other ideas.

UNIQUE FLAVOUR: The Dobson's New England Dry Gin is made using 27 different organic botanicals.

UNIQUE FLAVOUR: The Dobson's New England Dry Gin is made using 27 different organic botanicals.

“As I matured I saw a lot more appeal in the fact that it’s such a good blend of creative and scientific,” Josh said.

“It’s been really good for me to find something that still stimulates that, to learn from someone who has such a huge experience and credible experience in creative industries is so beneficial for me.”

Everything in the gin-making process is done on site, the design of labels, printing, bottling and distilling.

The next great venture is to perfect their whiskey, Mr Dobson said, but they won’t be straying too far from the traditional flavours.

“It’d be like poking your tongue out at the Queen on Coronation Day,” he said.

“There are sugared whiskey’s, but I don’t think there’s any aficionados throwing down a fireball tonight.”