Industrial chemist John Hyslop and his colleagues pondered the inefficiencies caused by the loss of whisky in a barrel through evaporation and calculated a loss that amounts to the equivalent of a bottle of spirit per barrel.
That loss is a waste of water, the grain used in the distillation as well as the energy used to make it.
With that on his mind, Hyslop went home and began experimenting. Two years later, he launched his first product: a single-malt spirit under the brand name Deviant Distillery. Official production began in July last year.
In Australia, product must be aged for two years in barrels to legally be called “whisky”, hence Deviant Distillery’s product description of “single-malt spirit”. The distillery name comes from the fact it doesn’t make its spirit in the usual way. Using ultrasonic cavitation, Hyslop accelerates the ageing process by manipulating the physical elements that govern esterification, oxidation – and evaporation.
“In simple terms, ultrasonic cavitation helps you put the jigsaw pieces together in a way you want them to be. On one hand it’s like a really, really fast stirrer that makes molecules touch each other, but on the other hand it puts energy into the system,” Hyslop says.
Process aside, the spirit does use whisky’s traditional four ingredients: barley, water, yeast and oak. They use no additives and distilling is done by hand in a copper-pot still.
“This is a product for a new generation of whisky drinkers: it’s targeted towards the 24 to 35-year-olds, who are more concerned about how the product tastes and whether or not care was put into it when it was made,” Hyslop says.
Deviant Distillery’s marketing is edgy and fun, and the word “innovative” is used a lot, but there’s a respect for history.
“We’re trying to make the best spirit we can, so everything is done by hand and we brew and distill everything we sell on-site.”
“Everything up until the product’s age is what you would expect from an ultra-premium spirit. We just age it a bit differently and that allows us to put the product out at the price point that people can afford.”
Another important driver for Deviant Distillery is the environmental impact of its production methods.
Hyslop says that although they are not able to eliminate 100 per cent of the evaporation, the process used does cut it down quite a lot.
“In saving three to four per cent, even in our small size, we save hundreds of thousands of litres of water. We save hundreds of kilograms of oak. And we save on grain usage and irrigation as well; because we don’t have that evaporation, we use 25-50 per cent less grain.
“So when all of those things are combined, we’re able to create a very similar product with about half of the resources going in and less than 10 per cent of the waste going out in just a fraction of the time.”
Deviant Distillery has now upgraded to a 150-litre still, which has enabled it to triple production. Despite small output, the increase allows the company to push into retail on the mainland of Australia.