While studying accounting at University, Greg Garnish managed a cafe, and it was here that his love for wine quickly evolved into a passion for wanting to work in the industry.
After some time working as an accountant, he decided to go experience his first vintage at Houghton Wines in the Swan Valley of Western Australia.
“I didn’t want to die wondering and certainly didn’t want the thought of “I wish I did”. So I managed to take the massive pay cut and left my desk job for a manual labour job in a winery,” Garnish explained.
After several years as a winemaker, he brought his first wine-based spirit, Captain Barnacle. Through experimenting with distillation, he then launched his own product, which quickly resulted in legal action from the Republic of Peru for supposedly 'stealing their national drink'. However, after many years of fighting, the battle died down. To this day, he still makes his very own Margaret River Pisco, the only one of its kind in the area.
Unlike anyone else, Garnish grows his grapes for the sole purpose of distilling. From his spirits, he makes a range of products that includes some of the region's oldest Brandy. He also works closely with Wise Wine, where various grape-based gins are made, along with a new distillery called Beyond Distilling, which consists of grain-made vodka and gin from the mid-west of Australia.
Garnish is all about the integrity of the supply. Making sure he knows the origins of everything he creates. At the same time, ensuring all his products are made on-site, from grape to glass.
“We use the best juniper berries from Tuscany and then add locally grown botanicals. Our Yuzu and Blood Limes come from Margaret River, and our Beaufortia Bicolour comes from Badgingarra. Every input is sourced for its aroma and flavour profile in our gins,” he said.
A while back, Garnish spent many months in the wheat belt region of Western Australia working on tour with Wise, where they visited over seven gin towns and selected over one hundred botanicals to distil.
Pisco is his passion project, and he spends his time trying to educate people about it. “I desire to share this product with the world and celebrate how good it is,” he explained.
Garnish goes on to say that Pisco is a distilled grape spirit that is commonly made in South America, Chile and Peru. The grapes are grown differently from the way wine is made, and the actual fermentation of the wine is very different. After the wine is distilled around two to three times, their signature Pisco is made. From this base, they also make their famous Pisco Sour.
Another crowd favourite is their Cafe Pisco, with notes of coffee, vanilla, caramel, chocolates and orange all blended in with their Pisco. Their core range of spirits has been developed over seven years, and their “Evil Genius” range is all small batches of trials made to push boundaries. Some flavours include Honkey Nut Gin, Big Mac Sauce Gin, Salmon Carcass, Lamb Shoulder and many, many more. Their current release is a dark caramel spirit, which has been in barrels for over three years.
“Sometimes what starts as a crazy idea ends in a delicious surprise.”