Seven years ago, brother and sister duo Eduard and Julie Otter started their journey of transforming a passion project into a viable and sustainable business – Otter Craft Distilling (OCD).
Eduard’s experience in the hospitality industry – from working behind bars and managing them to various roles at Pernod Ricard – and Julie’s background in luxury brand management and as former CEO of Sass & Bide were combined to create a premium whiskey and vodka brand.
The aim was to build a business that would reflect shared family values, passion for excellence and creativity. "We focus on longevity and innovation, respect and creativity for all ingredients," she says. "This is reflected in the singularity of all OCD spirits."
Over the years, the Australian-born spirits brand has grown to become a global award-winning whiskey and vodka offering.
At the recent 2020 Australian International Spirits Competition awards, OCD took home two gold and three silver medals.
From hand designing the still to the lengthy fermentation and a multiple distillation process, the OCD brand worked to ensure that its final product was of the highest level of flavour and standard.
After experimenting with different variations in grains and malts, Eduard finally created his unique recipe. Using a 70-litre column still, a total of 18 distillations were needed to develop the first 50-litre barrel of OCD Whiskey.
In addition, OCD uses only sustainable and traceable ingredients. The grain comes from Voyager Malts in the Riverina, NSW, and the barrels are sourced from local wineries, many of which have had a previous life storing wine, rum and whiskey – making each single barrel release different.
"Pre-COVID-19, we were extremely excited to launch into the Asian market, with active conversations also taking place for distribution in key locations in America," Julie tells The CEO Magazine.
"These have all now been placed on indefinite hold. However, the goal of seeing OCD across the globe remains firmly in place."
"We focus on longevity and innovation, respect and creativity for all ingredients." – Julie Otter
Julie further notes that although sales of OCD spirits slowed during lockdown in Australia (with all venues closing), the company is now starting to see more orders start to come through.
Along with plans to expand globally, OCD is planning to open a new distillery space in the not too distant future.
"We are also in multiple discussions for some amazing collaborations and partnerships, with both industry and non-industry brands," Julie shares.
The OCD product range includes OCD Whiskey and OCD Vodka, with a range of specialised spirits including OCD Pure Vodka; OCD Cocoa and Coffee Vodka; OCD Botanical Vodka; and OCD Gold Leaf Vodka and Cocktails: OCD Espresso Martini Kits and OCD Bloody Mary Kits.
Invest in Otter Craft Distilling
OCD is also offering whiskey connoisseurs a chance to invest in their own custom-made 50-litre barrel of whiskey – created in consultation with Eduard.
Each barrel is offered for A$12,000 and can expect to produce between 80–90 bottles of the personalised drop.
"An OCD custom barrel is the ultimate whiskey experience for the discerning whiskey enthusiast. Working with Eduard, a barrel type is selected to match the taste of the client," Julie explains.
"This can vary from an Australian wine cask to a PX Sherry or even a muscat barrel, all delivering unique profiles. Once decided, the barrel will be filled with OCD’s single malt new make and left to age."
Barrel owners will receive testers of the barrel every six months, including a sample of the new make (200ml).
On final maturation – typically 30 months – the whiskey will be cut in consultation with the client to the desired ABV% and flavour profile.
The final product is then bottled into 500ml bottles, and hand labelled, identifying the whiskey.
Although the business is Australia-based, Otter Craft Distilling custom barrel is open to international whiskey lovers.