The Rural Department of the Australian Broadcasting Commission always tried to make interesting documentary films. Unfortunately under the heading of “Rural Department” there was a limited number of pictorially interesting subjects. With great ingenuity, they were able to include subjects that only had a passing connection with farming. One example was a film called “Malting Grains”.
I directed this film at the Gilbey’s Distillery in Moorabbin outside Melbourne.
There seemed to be only a handful of people working in the distillery. We were shown over the whole plant where they produced both whisky and gin. We were told that if the gin was produced by using barley, then the first distillation could be used to make whisky. Weird ! The difference was that the gin would go on to be re-distilled with botanical ingredients while the whisky would go into oak casks where they would sit for a minimum of three years to mature and gain the colour and taste from the casks themselves.
We were told that Gilbey’s Gin had ingredients which included Coriander, Cinnamon, Angelica, Juniper berries and Orris root seed. Orris is an ancient word for Iris and the other name for it is Florentine Iris. These are the ingredients that give gin its distinctive taste. It is the storage casks that give whisky its individual taste.
We met the “nose”, the man who could verify the quality of the whisky by sight and smell. What a job. He was Scottish. Gilbey’s were not producing Scotch, it was Australian Whisky and I never sought Scotch Whisky all the time I lived in Australia. It was that good.
We made a very nice and informative film on the whole process.
Two weeks after the film was broadcast, I got a phone call from the manager at Gilbey’s saying that he was sending me a case of his product and would I like a mixture of Gin and Whisky. I opted for a mixed case. It went down well.
Next chapter: Chapter 40: Silverbeet