WHEN the allure of country living attracted Nikki and Geoff Drummond to the hills of Upper Hunter town Murrurundi from Sydney four years ago, the pair had no idea what lay ahead.
The couple, who were a healthcare professional and an accountant by trade, quickly turned their hands to making beverages everyone could enjoy.
Fast forward to earlier this year and the Drummond's dreams had come true as their new venture Magpie Distilling was honoured on a global stage after claiming two silver medals at the London Gin Awards.
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"It was such a surprise to us because we really only entered to give ourselves a bit of an idea of where we were at," Nikki said.
"When we entered we thought the best thing that could happen is that the experts would critic our gin and give us some good tasting notes so that we could continue to improve our products.
"But when we found out we had won two silver medals it was truly gratifying for us and was a great justification all the hard work we have put in trying to get it right for the past three years or so."
Magpie's award winning varieties, Murrurundi Dry and Songbird as well as its Autumn Harvest gin are all made using local produce with a paddock-to-bottle focus.
"Gin is primarily made with juniper, which we have to import because not enough of it grows here but otherwise we source all of our other ingredients from right around us," Geoff said.
"One of the main ones we use is wild fennel which grows really well around us, we also forage from lemon trees and peppercorn trees on our property as well as pomegranates.
"Everything we do use is sustainably sourced from the ingredients we use to the packaging we send, everything we do has an eye to being sustainable."
Launching at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nikki said it was a gamble that paid dividends.
"It turned out to be the right product at the right time," she said.
"People have really taken to online shopping and gin is becoming more and more popular. Our first year has certainly exceeded our expectations, that's for sure."
Off the back of their recent success, the couple have big plans to expand their operation into a tourist attraction.
"We are currently in the process of constructing a cellar door facility on our property, which will allow visitors the chance to see how we operate as well as taste what we have to offer," Geoff said.
"I think this region has so much to offer in regards to being a tourist destination and if we can play a small part in that I think it would be fantastic."
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