A Chat With Black Gate Distillery’s Brian Hollingworth

A member of the Dram Club Hall Of Fame*, the Black Gate Distillery is one of the many exciting distilleries on the current Australian landscape.

Based in Mendooran in country New South Wales (sort of near Dubbo and Coonabarabran) the distillery is the efforts of Brian and Genise Hollingworth (pictured above). From humble beginnings the distillery is now working full time… full production is a barrel a fortnight.

So far they’ve released just five single malts (BG002, BG004, BG005 and the 520s) but there’s already an avid following. That includes the world famous NOMA restaurant, who added the Black Gate whisky and rum to their very exclusive spirits menu at the Sydney pop up restaurant.

With the latest release, the 520s, set to feature at our upcoming Forest Lodge tasting, we asked Brian a few questions in the first of our features with whisky professionals.

(*Black Gate single cask BG005 was voted into the Hall Of Fame at Golden Barley series two.)

First off, what are you drinking right now?
Our last bottle of BG005!

What’s your job role/title at the distillery?

How and where did you learn to distill?
Year 8 Science, the internet and Lark Distillery.

Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire?
Bill Lark and family have been very helpful over the years. I also have a great deal of respect for [Lark distiller] Chris Thompson’s and [Archie Rose distiller] Joe Dinsmore’s experience and skill.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?
Aside from the obvious excise inequity and tiny market share, these are really exciting times for Aussie distillers who’s biggest challenge is more often than not, trying to keep up with demand.

What’s a story about working in the distillery that only comes out when you’re talking to mates at the pub?
I had a very early start one morning and while still half asleep, tipped over a fermenter with our little forky, losing the wash for that day’s distillation run.

Is there a moment or a product that you’re most proud of?
The moment Kathleen from Nip of Courage rang and told us all our products had been included in the spirit range at Noma Australia.

When you’re not drinking your own booze, is there anywhere in Australia you particularly like to enjoy an Aussie craft spirit?
We don’t get to the cities much, but Genise and I love Bad Frankie and have had a couple of great afternoons at The Royal Albert in Sydney. We plan to visit more venues that support Aussie spirits in the near future!

Any exciting news/products coming up that you can let us in on?
Our next whisky release is coming soon and our first rum for the year is shaping up to be a beauty!

Black Gate whiskies, rums and liqueurs are available in limited quantities through independent bottle stores.

Visit their website.


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