Damson Plum Gin: Turning Disaster Into Distinctive Spirits
Food & Drink
Food & Drink

Damson Plum Gin: Turning Disaster Into Distinctive Spirits

Following the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, which left his plum harvest in ruins, Shayne Walker, with unwavering determination, turned disaster into opportunity. His remarkable recovery is marked by the success of his unique Damson Plum Gin, a product that emerged from the storm-torn fields of his orchard. 

Walker discusses the resilience of Damson plum trees and how, with community support, he managed to bounce back, leading to a bountiful harvest and the production of a distinctive spirit. 

"We got absolutely nothing last year... But at least we still had some trees and, as a consequence, we've had a pretty good season and then had an awesome harvest this year," Walker explains, illustrating the dramatic contrast between the seasons. 

A notable aspect of the conversation is the economic viability of plum-based spirits. Walker compares the profitability of plums to that of apples and kiwi fruit, highlighting innovative harvesting techniques like using an olive shaker to reduce costs. This approach positions plums competitively in the market, particularly when they are processed into alcoholic beverages. 

"If we get the marketing right around the alcohol component then the yields are pretty good. They definitely will compete per hectare." 

Walker's journey is not just about gin production, it's a testament to the broader implications of natural disasters on regional economies and the resilience required in rural life. He shares insights into his collaboration with the Riddet Institute at Massey University, investigating the health benefits of plums, and his aspirations to expand into European markets. 

The conversation touches on the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on the local community, with Walker discussing the challenges of housing and infrastructure, conveying a sense of ongoing recovery efforts.

In summary, Shayne Walker's narrative is one of overcoming adversity, harnessing the power of nature, and the craft of distillation to create a successful gin enterprise. His story is a microcosm of innovation, community strength, and market competitiveness, reflecting the unyielding spirit of rural resilience.

Listen to the full chat between Shayne Walker and Dominic George above.

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