While most young lads would sit down with their Dad and enjoy their first beer, at 14 Little Juniper Founder Stuart enjoyed his first sip of a G&T with his mother. Neither of his parents were big drinkers, but his godfather worked for Penfolds and later Hardy’s, until the early eighties. He always brought over great wine, and being an Englishman himself, with his rosy red cheeks, always had a story to tell about his winemaking days. One night, Stuart watched him fill an empty port barrel that the family had sitting on the kitchen counter. All sorts of concoctions went onto it. Several years passed, they had all forgotten that it had something in it. Remembering, Stuart pored himself a sneaky port. To this day it is the best drop of port he has ever tasted. It became a spark that lit his love and curiosity for the alchemy behind spirit blending.

At 18, he would frequent the local pub and ask for a G&T. The bartender would pull out an old bottle, the screw top nearly rusted from lack of use, and ask if Stuart was sure he wanted a gin. “There’s plenty of other fine spirits that your grandmother doesn’t know about that you might like”. This continued for years as an ongoing joke, however the barman appreciated Stuart’s rare love of gin and started stocking up on gin from around the world.

Stuart had been home brewing beer and ginger beer that raised the eyebrows of many a friend so he looked at distilling as a career, however there were few distilleries in Australia at that time. Many G&T’s later the advent of Australian gin was as if a new spirit had been born. Bold new herbaceous flavours and Australian botanicals that many had ever heard of. 

Come 2019 after a 25-year career in film, TV and visual effects, Stuart started his own small media business, just as Covid raised its ugly head. The plan was to open a distillery in the coming 5 to 10 years, however, that plan had now been accelerated by a world pandemic. Along with the rest of the world, forced to stay at home, Stuart took his business plan and decades of distilling research and made it a reality.

His focus for a business was to be sustainable, to have the smallest footprint possible. Having two young children himself really brought home that we need to take care of what we have for the good of our future family. Hence the name “Little Juniper” was born. While we do have plans on growing the business, we will always put the environment first.

Stuart MacKenzie, Founder of Little Juniper Distilling, South Australian Distiller