What started as a hobby is now a full-time role for West Winds founder and Managing Director Paul White.
Previously working as a software and electrical engineer, a management consultant, and for startups, White started West Winds in 2010, with the first gins launched under the West Winds brand in 2011. Since then, the company has grown exponentially, even branching out to vodka and whisky, with a spiced rum launching in the near future.
White set up a small distillery 17 years ago and spent one day a week playing around and honing his craft.
“I set up a little distillery back in 2006 and just spent a day a week playing. I bought some really nice equipment out of Germany from Holstein and played with that for about four years,” White said.
“We’ve been one of the earliest players in the gin market and probably one of, if not the earliest gin-focused distilleries.”
A New Era
After four years of planning and nearly two years of building, West Winds has put down roots in Cowaramup with a new tavern and distillery.
“It’s been fantastic opening a new tavern and distillery because we’ve never really had our own spiritual home, so to speak, before. So now we’ve got somewhere where people know West Winds is from and can come to see it, touch it, taste it, and it’s not just sales through liquor shops,” White said.
What makes West Winds different from these distilleries is the use of West Australian ingredients in their products. They source ingredients directly from growers and Traditional Custodians of the land.
The Wild Plum Gin is made with Native Davidson Plums and Sloe berries, while the Cutlass Gin combines traditional juniper alongside unique Australian elements like cinnamon myrtle and Australian bush tomato to create a savoury product.
Both the tavern and distillery exude the vibe of chic warehouses with old copper ship light fittings, local timbers, several nautical murals, and a 57-year-old fishing boat restored as a children’s play area.
The tavern sells West Australian beers and wines and, where they can, spirits. If possible, the food and ingredients are all locally sourced as well. Whilst dining and drinking at the tavern, try one of White’s favourite drinks, the negroni, made with West Winds’ Navy Strength Gin.
Next door is the production facility, which hosts the distillery and a tasting room. West Winds distils on-site, so you can see the gin-making process while you’re down there. The distillery focuses more on how the gin is made and gives visitors an educational experience rather than just a tasting.
Grab a handful of West Winds bronze tasting tokens and dive into their spirits. A wide range of award-winning gin, single malt whisky, and vodka is waiting to be tasted and discovered.
“They’re quite two different spaces, but I think the spaces have turned out really nicely,” White commented.
“We’ve pretty much structured it, so all the staff understand not just our products but how gin is made, and they can talk about different garnishes and different tonics with different gins.”
For now, White is in no hurry to open another store but hasn’t ruled out the possibility, but keep an eye out for their spiced rum coming out soon.
“There’ll be a spiced rum which will come out in about probably April. That’s the only thing planned. We’ve also got some other things in the pipeline potentially that we’re going to bring out, but I’m not going to give them away,” White concluded.
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