Australia’s first mobile gin distillery – Unexpected Guest – has launched in a bright orange 1972 Kombi ute.
Husband and wife team Jamie Maslen and Jane Owen spent lockdown in a lab creating delicious flavours to infuse in gin and have installed two functioning 50 litre copper stills aboard their signature Kombi.
Why a mobile distillery? The pair returned from a 2019 UK trip with the idea to create “a gin distillery, but not like the rest”. Both were hitting 50 and tired of the corporate slog, they wanted an exciting reason to leap out of bed each morning. After seeing the success of mobile beer breweries at weddings in the UK, the couple knew what they wanted to do: launch a gin distillery that heads to consumers. The plans were laid and they spent a sizeable chunk of 2019 converting their 1972 Volkswagen Kombi into a bright orange showstopper.
February 2020 came and the distillery was ready to launch … but COVID-19 had other ideas and the couple were forced to lockdown the business. Not wanting to waste all their hard work, they decided to expand the business to also offer gin for sale. Fast forward to the late 2020 and the Kombi is finally on the road.
Unexpected Guest provides mobile distillery attendees with a unique gin experience and an opportunity to purchase more flavours online after the event.
“We come to your event and hand the reins over to you,” Owen explained. “You pick the flavours. You distil the gin. You bottle it yourself with your own personalized labels. Oh, and you get to drink it too.”
While the flavours brew, guests undertake a collaborative cocktail masterclass to understand how to discover and pair the botanicals of various gin profiles.
Maslen added: “We’re the ultimate guest for weddings, corporate events, birthdays, whatever the event is, we’ll help you celebrate and mark the occasion with a blast of an experience.”
Big plans for Unexpected Guest in 2021
Word is spreading fast about Unexpected Guest, with Maslen and Owen attending Christmas Gin Palooza at the ICC Sydney last week. The aim was to showcase the mobile distillery and its four main gins. The distillery also released a limited edition cranberry and cinnamon flavoured Chin-Chin Christmas Gin.
Unexpected Guest’s products are already winning awards and the distillery plans to expand the online gin business behind its website to retailers in 2021.
“We began producing gin February this year and within a few months we submitted three of our gins to the Australian Gin Awards,” Maslin said. “As only a company in our infancy we were merely hopeful, but much to our delight we achieved a bronze award certification for all three submissions – Clementine’s American Gin in the Contemporary Gin category, Young Tom’s Bathtub Gin in the Old Tom category and Bobby’s London Dry in the Classic Dry category.
“As we enter our second year and our mobile operation is becoming more frequent, we’re confidently shooting for a higher tier.”
Private hire of the Unexpected Guest mobile gin experience for six hours starts from $3200, which produces 20 litres of tailor-made gin.
Click here to visit the distillery’s online store.