Isolation Interviews: Leigh & Bree Attwood
Whisky & Alement is passionate about supporting our local community and keeping people connected. In this last edition of isolation interviews with catchup with distillers, owners and founders Leigh and Bree Attwood of Backwoods Distillery. Located 3.5 hours drive north east of Melbourne in the vibrant small town of Yackandandah (known as ‘Yack’ to locals) the duo are set to release their first whisky in the coming months.
Considering our current circumstances; what is your desert island dram or drink, and do you think now would be the time to open ’that’ bottle?
We filled two red gum casks about two years ago. One with Single Malt and one with Rye. These are prized casks in our bond store and we think they’ll be ready for release later this year. So, if we had to choose a dram to enjoy in isolation, one from each of these casks would be top of our list! Luckily, our distillery and bond store are located about 100m from our house, which makes it pretty easy to draw from the casks (maybe too easy!!)
After sampling our own wares, we’d want to move on to another epic Aussie whisky. We were lucky enough to score bottle #37 of Corowa Distilling Co’s ‘First Drop’ – their first whisky release, back in 2018. Leigh went to the launch party and got to taste it there and made sure he grabbed a bottle that night. So, I (Bree) haven’t tasted it yet and we’ve been arguing about opening the bottle ever since! I think now is the perfect time to crack it open! You guys agree, right? I think Leigh is outnumbered now…!
What does this industry mean to you, and how did you end up in it?
We started enjoying whisky nights at home when we became parents! Our children drove us to drink… ha, just kidding! We were spending more nights at home and started sampling whiskies from all over the world and then discovered we loved Aussie whiskies above all others (Black Gate, Belgrove and Timboon were our first loves!)
In 2016, we left Melbourne to move back to North East Victoria and landed in a little town called Yackandandah. Inspired by the heritage of the town and the crafty, arty, innovative people that live here, we decided making our own whisky was something we really wanted to do. After lots of planning, research, studying, experimenting and saving our pennies, we invested in a still and nearly three years later, here we are! We have over 60 casks in our bond store now and it’s growing every week. Once we started, we just fell in love with the whole process of crafting whisky. It takes over all your senses and allows you to be creative in a really satisfying way! One of the best things about starting this venture, is the people we have met and now call friends. Everyone is so passionate, hardworking and inspiring! And fun!! We have lots of laughs and good time with our industry crew!
Have you adopted any new daily routines (or adapted any of your old routines) to keep happy and healthy in isolation?
One of the silver linings during isolation was having more time to spend in the distillery! We are both still working day jobs to fund the distillery production, so we usually only have weekends and some evenings free to make whisky. With the distillery located on our property, we’ve been able to get Stillvester (our copper pot still) going for the day and take turns to check on him, while we work from home! We’ve fit in extra mash days and filled more casks in the last few weeks than we would have been able to with our usual routine! And this has certainly kept us happy and healthy (all those extra bags of grain we’ve been lifted and shovelling!)
When the cogs start turning again and venues are opening their doors, where are you going first and what are you ordering/doing? (This could be for food, drink or socialising)
We usually make trips to Melbourne every few weeks to visit friends and attend to ‘whisky business’! So, we’ve really missed our city breaks! As soon as we’re allowed to have overnight getaways (it’s about 3.5 hours from Yackandandah) we’ll be heading to Melbourne to see all of you at Whisky and Alement!