N A I N A TASM REBEL PH ED BY JEF F CIO LET TI WR ITT EN & PH OT OG RA
hen last I spoke with Tasmanian distiller Peter Bignell, he was about to board a plane to Paris to collect wine festival spittoons—not the receptacles themselves, mind you, but the unwanted deposits left over from the tasting sessions. “I’ll get the wine and distill it and turn it into an eau de vie,” explains Bignell, owner and distiller at Belgrove Distillery, located on a farm in the rural Tasmania town of Kempton. “Basically, I’ll take it back next year and sell it to the
people who spat it out.” And it’s not the first time he’s made spirits from the dregs of drinking glasses. Before he was ready to go global with the endeavor, he worked with festivals a bit closer to home—Sydney’s Rootstock, to be precise—to turn one drinker’s trash into another distiller’s treasure. “I think the first time we got 500 liters of wine,” Bignell reveals. “The next year we got 300 liters. A lot of the stuff is not actually spat out. When people are trying
200 wines, they really can’t drink much so it just gets dumped into spittoons or buckets. What a dreadful waste!” It would be an even bigger waste, logistically, to try to ship all of that wine back to Tasmania—which is why he produced his batches at distilleries near the Sydney and Paris events. And he, of course, didn’t cart the individual dump buckets to the production sites. He transferred all of their contents to large drums for collection. It’s projects like this that have
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