Like furnishing a new house, choosing the new equipment for our fresh new distillery was equally as exciting and with as many options! After careful consideration we settled on three traditional copper alembic stills. Originally the word ‘alembic’ was from the Greek word ‘Ambix’, this meant a vase with a small opening. The vase was part of the distillation process and still is, as it’s where we place our alcohol and botanicals for distilling. The word ‘Ambix’ was changed to ‘Ambic’ by the Arabs and the distillation equipment was named ‘Al Ambic’, this then became ‘Alembic’ in Europe.
Pot stills, like ours, have changed shape through history to suit their purpose and also the country using it. Our traditional Portuguese alembic stills are very rounded and look like an onion in shape! The Portuguese early distillers believed that this shape helped water vapour return into the pot resulting in a higher quality spirit. We certainly think that it produces a wonderful quality spirit!
Copper has some fascinating properties, but for us the most important ones are; that it keeps the distillate sweet, it has excellent heat transfer properties, essential for the heating and colling of our liquid and finally copper improves the quality of the final product.
So, with such carefully chosen equipment we needed carefully chosen names.
Our original stills were three different sizes: a 5 litre still, which we used for our trial recipes. A 30 litre still, used for distilling our vodka and a 300 litre still, our gin still. We have since added to the collection, but more about that another day 😊. We really wanted to pay homage to our Australia heritage; Stuart was born in Mount Isa, a mining town in Queensland and our children are Australian born and so after much debate we named our stills ‘Walt’, ‘Zing’ and ‘Matilda’.
The song ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is Australia best-known bush ballad and was written by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson in January 1895. It is often considered Australia’s unofficial anthem and holds a powerful story in its lyrics. Maybe due to this it is the song with the most recordings registered on the Sounds of Australia registry and we are honoured to name our stills after it!
Check these links out if you’d love to hear the song
Slim Dusty – Waltzing Matilda – YouTube a great folk version
André Rieu – Waltzing Matilda, live in Australia – YouTube for the classical lover in you
The Wiggles: Waltzing Matilda (feat. Troy Cassar-Daley) | Kids Songs – YouTube perfect for children, check out The Wiggles if you have small children, ours grew up with them in Australia.
Don’t forget it’s Mother’s Day this month!
Writing about Australia, The Wiggles and children reminds me it is Mother’s Day this month. Having had our children in Australia Stuart’s mum and I share a common bond and living back here in the UK now we are lucky that we are able to see them more often and that our children can spend fun times with them, just with a little less sunshine sometimes! Stu loves this photo… and even remembers being pushed around the garden in the wheelbarrow by his Mum whilst clutching a hibiscus flower! Stus’ love of cooking also stems from spending lots of time cooking, baking and making sweet treats with his Mum, one of his favourites being rum balls. No doubt they would have used the Australian Women’s Weekly recipe, as he still does. They are absolutely delicious, why not try making them yourself and substituting the rum for Orcadian Moon coffee liqueur for an extra special treat.
Australian Women’s Weekly Classic Rum Balls
- 250 gram plain biscuits (such as rich tea in the UK!)
- 395 gram can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup (80g) desiccated coconut
- 1/4 cup (25g) dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
- 1/4 cup (60ml) dark rum
- 1/2 cup (40g) desiccated coconut, toasted, extra
- Process biscuits until fine crumbs.
- Transfer crumbs to a large bowl; add condensed milk, coconut, sifted cocoa, rind and rum. Stir well to combine.
- Roll mixture into walnut-sized balls. Toss balls in extra coconut. Place on a tray; cover, refrigerate until firm.
For full details head to: https://www.womensweeklyfood.com.au/recipes/classic-rum-balls-1632
Enjoy Mother’s Day whatever you get up to and whoever you spend it with and don’t forget we would love to see your rum balls and hear how they turn out!
Until next month take care,