Harvest & Gather @Huskdistillery
Posted: 06 May 2022
Husk distillery set out to change the Australian rum market with the introduction of their cultivated rum made from sugar cane, grown locally in the Recognised Australian Cane Growing Region between Grafton, NSW and Mossman, QLD.
Harvest & Gather with Head Distiller, Quentin | @huskdistillery
Husk distillery set out to change the Australian rum market with the introduction of their cultivated rum made from sugar cane, grown locally in the Recognised Australian Cane Growing Region between Grafton, NSW and Mossman, QLD. Inspired by travels of The Carribean and ten years of research and development, Husk created their internationally recognised and 11-time international award winning sugar cane rum. Our friend and Head Distiller at Husk, Quentin, was generous enough to be our latest feature in our Harvest & Gather series.
Question: Being the Head Distiller at a picturesque distillery sounds like a dream job. What has been your journey to get here? And how did you end up at Husk?
Answer: It has been a long and very fulfilling journey that took me from Martinique, Caribbean to Australia. I never really know where to start because there were so many life events that led me to this job but I guess it all started growing up on that tiny island surrounded by a rich and colourful rum culture. Although I pursued a career in engineering after I left Martinque, I've always kept a solid bond with my roots and rum was an obvious enabler. Over the years, I met a few people that inspired me to look at rum not just as a drink but as a process turning nature's gift, the sugarcane, into a delicious product that people could enjoy. When I arrived in Australia, 7 years ago, I couldn't find the style of rum I loved, made from fresh cane juice. It became obvious I needed to start making my own. During that process, I heard about Paul Messenger, Husk Founder, who after a trip to Martinque, fell in love with our rum and decided to create an Australian expression in Tumbulgum. I contacted him, we met and both realised the great things we could accomplish together. A few weeks later, I was moving from Perth to the East Coast and the rest is history!
There are several challenges that come with creating cultivated rum. Because the rum is made from sugar cane juice, as soon as it is harvested, it begins to ferment naturally. This means that the sugar cane needs to be harvested close by and processed through the mill and fermenter quickly. To cater for this production challenge, Husk grows their own sugar cane, rignt next to their production facilities.
Question: We love that the harvesting & gathering of many key ingredients happens on sight at Husk. Can you explain a little more of that process to us, and why it's so important to your farm to bottle™ philosophy?
Answer: To us provenance is everything and we are one of the few true farm to bottle distilleries in the world. It is all about creating products that tell the story of our region and showcase the skills of our people. This philosophy makes our process long and complex but the unique character of our products is worth the effort. Our rums for example start in the paddock, a few hundred metres away from the distillery, where we grow the best sugarcane possible using simple farming methods. This is harvested once a year, crushed onsite to extract its fresh juice that is then fermented by some of the wild, indigenous yeast present at the farm. After a carefully monitored distillation and years of subtropical ageing in our small oak barrels, we obtain the true essence of this place in a bottle. The whole process is a balancing act between controlling the output and letting nature express itself along the way.
Question: Where do you source inspiration for the next innovative Husk creation - like the Husk Rum or Ink Gin?
Answer: We are lucky to live in a country with countless unique native botanicals, flavours and aromas that are all great sources of inspiration for new products. My ideas also come from the different places I lived in, my life experiences and the great products I have tried over the years.
Question: A Mojito is the ultimate crowd pleaser. Do you have any tips for adding that extra edge to make it extra special?
Answer: Of course I do, but keep it a secret...
Use fresh ingredients! Don't put any of that 3-week old, wrinkly lime in your cocktail.
Use raw sugar instead of white, it enhances the flavour of the drink. Don't forget to stir well to dissolve it.
Don't forget to slap that mint! It helps to release its fresh aroma before adding it to the drink.
Use white rum made from fresh cane juice instead of molasses, like our Husk Pure Cane. This unique rum style really gives a Mojito that extra edge!
Husk Pure Cane Mojito
Using the Holy Trinity (rum, lime & sugar), but in a longer, mixed cocktail.
60ml Husk Pure Cane Rum
30ml Lime Juice
15ml Simple Syrup
Muddle lime and sugar, add rum and ice and shake.
Pour over ice and fresh mint in a tall glass.
Top with soda.