“From under his garage, and in a 70-litre column still,
Eduard’s obsession to create Whiskey led to a business partnership with his sister Julie, and to the creation of OCD”
Otter Craft Distilling officially began life in Australia in early 2015 where Eduard Otter, driven by a strong desire to learn to make his favourite spirit to drink, began years of experimentation in his garage, formulating ideas that reflected his strong respect for tradition, provenance and a high level of innovation.
Now fast forward a few short years, and Eduard and Julie have set up a distillery based in Saint Peters, NSW (a short drive from Sydney) creating whisky and vodka with a commitment to work only with like-minded suppliers who are passionate about sustainable and traceable ingredients, that are ethically sourced. Every element of the OCD brand ensures that the final product is individually crafted to ensure the very highest of flavour and standards.
“Made by hand in Sydney and in small batches, using equal parts tradition and innovation”
Visiting the distillery for the first time, we were greeted by the beautiful smells of baked bread, toasted apples, wood aromas and distant coffee. Eduard and Julie gave us a tour of their operation and it only took a few short minutes to work out that Eduard is both a science prodigy and a breathing encyclopedia of distilling knowledge – Every inch of the OCD operation has been meticulously planned and designed, from the weld on their hand-designed still, to the barrel choices of provenance, quietly ageing their delightful new make. Julie compliments Eduard’s passion with grace and finesse and is at the top of her game in design, fashion and branding which shines through in the sheer beauty of their packaged, finished products.
‘Whiskey purposely spelt with an ‘e’ as a tribute to Irish whiskey makers past and present’
Julie and Eduard are welcoming, genial, generous and accessible, approaching everything they do with a respectful sense of terroir and enthusiasm. They spoke us through their available range of whiskey (and vodka) and by the end of the tasting, we were hooked on the process – albeit a little addled to the gills in glorious hand-made alcohol, but still with enough sense to understand that they are creating premium products that won’t be flying under the radar for very much longer.
‘A fermentation process lasting a whopping 2 weeks for added flavour and complexity’
OCD Whiskey Releases so far, as of September 2019
OCD Port Cask First Release Single Malt Whiskey 500ml 56.3%
Age: 30 months, 22 days – Barrelled 19th of Nov 2016 – Bottled June 2019
This very first release from Otter Craft Distilling was aged for over two and a half years in a 50L port cask that yielded 99 bottles only.
Barrel 1 represents not only the first expression of OCD, but it is also the first time that Voyager Malts from the NSW Riverina has had their locally malted barley mashed for distillation and subsequently the first Whiskey released using Voyager malt.
The rich powerful flavours are a reflection of small batch mashes, with longer fermentation times, that allow the flavour profiles to develop.
OCD New French Oak Cask Second Release Single Malt Whiskey 500ml 49.7%
Age: 29 months, 22 days – Bottled September 2019
Sold out at the distillery, this second release whiskey from OCD has had quite the journey from cask to bottle. Eduard’s new make was laid to rest in a 27 litre, medium-toasted new French Oak barrel that immediately offered up hints of sweet caramel and roasted toffee.
After 29 months the barrel was opened and along with the angels share, only 15 litres made it to the final stage though the abv had increased to 71%.
Head distiller, Eduard Otter then meticulously cut down the whisky to a mouth-watering 49.7% ABV where the depths of aromas were unearthed to open up an incredible flavour profile.
“Release 3 is now available on our virtual shelves”
Release 3 yielded 100 bottles and was aged in an old port cask that once held port for the better part of 70 years that was re-coopered to a 50-litre cask in Tasmania with medium/high char. As this barrel is still from the early stages it is the result of 16 hand mashes and 18 distillations a slow and repetitive process that was well worth the effort.
We had the opportunity to sample this beauty while at the distillery and dare I say it’s the best of the lot, dripping with beautiful notes of sultana cake, crème caramel and manuka honey with a warm, malty finish.
Looking like something straight out of a Star Wars movie, Eduard opted to design his very own Bain Marie Still for his distilling purposes – to understand more about this type of still, we thought it’s best that Eduard explains in his words……
“Bain Marie style still seemed to be meeting the requirements and some surprising advantages. The boil of a Bain Marie still is from the outside in as the heat is evenly spread around the liquid that is being heated, constantly creating an even current with no “hot spots”. With the heat being generated from below little heat loss would occur until the heat was past the liquid
Uncommon in Australia this style of still really comes from Europe where this style of heating is more the norm. There are a number of ways that they can work with either heat transfer fluid as Otter Craft Distilling use to simply boiling water, to an almost built in steam boiler that creates a pressure vessel around the liquid being heated.
The full copper reservoir that leads up to the full copper onion head meets the swan next that is full 314 stainless steel. As the goal is to produce a clean sweet new make stainless serves as a better material than copper off the heat. Predictable heating and running make the still the work horse of the distillery by ensuring that all strip runs are easily cut sending them to the next stage as they should be”.
In conclusion, we couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend a beautiful, springtime Sydney afternoon than at Otter Craft Distilling. enjoying the fruits of Julie and Eduard’s devotion whilst learning new things about the whiskey and vodka making process. We’re proud supporters of the Australian whisk(e)y industry and look forward to watching OCD grow into the distilling leviathan it was born to be, so until next time folks, drink up – and drink well.