Granddad Jack’s distillery in Miami is pumping out some classy booze, keeping up a tradition that started long ago in the Ridden family.
Father and son duo Dave and Luke Ridden started Granddad Jack’s Distillery to pay homage to their ancestor, David Goulding, AKA Granddad Jack. Their goal is to provide local people with “the best possible spirits and experiences we can.”
David Goulding aka Granddad Jack was born on the 11th June 1919 in a small South Island town in New Zealand called Timaru. At the age of 13 Granddad Jack and his mate set out on an epic 65-mile journey riding their bikes to a sheep station looking for work. They carried a canteen holding a billy, two tobacco tins for drinking cups of tea, milk, their lunch and a bottle of Granddad Jack’s homemade whiskey. They arrived there at 3 o’clock showing very little sign of fatigue. This was a very creditable performance considering the uphill grade of the journey. The story made the local paper. Legend has it that their stamina was due to the whiskey – the rumour persisted that there was something special in it.
Granddad Jack passed away at the ripe old age of 93 and up until that point had a whisky every day. Now his great-grandson Luke Ridden continues the family tradition by producing his own take on Granddad Jack’s whiskey; an old recipe that the family kept secret for close to 90 years.
We talk to Luke Ridden about day-to-day operations.
How does the Granddad Jack’s Distillery operate on a day-to-day basis?
We make small batch craft spirits and nano craft beer batches all out of our tasting room. We are a neighbourhood distillery that really focuses on locals and great conversation. You won’t find a TV in our distillery. We really believe in telling our story to as many people as possible and educating our locals on all the epic stuff we make.
What does your average day entail?
I am the head distiller and general manager so my days can consist of everything from cleaning the distillery, running tours and the tasting room to distilling any one of our products. It’s as very small team so we all have to do more than one job.
Are you originally from the Gold Coast?
I am from Christchurch, and I moved to Sydney when I was 5 with my family before coming to the coast to finish my schooling. Business was growing in Queensland and we already had some family living here. I attended Pacific Pines High and AITC in Robina for my final year of high school.
Why did you started working in this business?
My father has owned his own business since he was 19. I grew up around him starting businesses, and I have worked with him my whole life. When it was time to leave school, I wanted to do a trade. After doing work experience in a few roles, I found an apprenticeship at Bruce Lynton BMW. I learnt a lot working somewhere outside the family. By finishing my trade I had something to fall back on.
My Great Grandfather passed away in the early 2000s and we had a very cool relationship. My father and I always found his life fascinating and as I got older, we always talked about creating something around his amazing life story. In November 2017 there was an opportunity to learn about distilling and push to open a Granddad Jack’s Distillery so we went for it. We opened the doors in Late August 2018 and got a lot of local support.
What are your range of products?
Granddad Jacks creates craft spirits and single keg batches of beer. We currently sell our three gins and a vodka by the bottle, or as tastings in our amazing tasting room.
How do you promote your products?
Mainly through word of mouth and social media.
What are your biggest expenses?
By far our biggest expense is excise tax (the tax on alcohol). As a spirits producer we pay $85.31 per litre of alcohol, this means combined with GST more than one third of the price of a bottle is tax.
What are you trying to achieve with your business?
We would like to create small neighbourhood distilleries that bring communities together and provide as much information on craft spirits as we can.
Who buys your stuff?
Mostly locals, however we have had people from all over the world buy bottles or come in to learn about what we do differently here on the coast.
What is the best thing about doing business on the Gold Coast?
The opportunity and community support is huge! The business community in Burleigh/Miami where we are is so like-minded that we are even opening a café called CO-OP. It is owned by a number of small businesses in the area.
And the worst?
General legislation around opening businesses like ours on the coast. I would love to sit down with the local, state and federal government for a solid discussion around helping small business thrive. I want them to see what our challenges are.
What do you love about the Gold Coast?
Great people and a greater lifestyle. My favourite haunts are the Hideaway Kitchen and Bar, Lockwood’s, Bonita Bonita and anywhere with great cocktails and epic food.