When Sebastian Reaburn discovered the creativity and joy that comes with a perfectly executed cocktail, he gave up his dream of becoming a writer or teacher and threw himself into the craft of good time drinks instead.
Funnily enough, my family didn’t drink at all, so my first discovery of the wonderful world of booze was in the early 2000s when I started working in bars while I studied literature and philosophy at university. I did a trade course where I had the opportunity to taste 15 vodkas back-to-back and explore the different types of distillation. I remember this moment thinking, ‘Vodka is not about being tasteless and odourless, there are flavours here’. That’s when I really got into it.
The team and I started talking about Grainshaker in 2018 with a blank sheet of paper, asking ourselves, ‘What is wonderful about vodka that people aren’t doing?’ And we decided, ‘Vodka has character that comes from the grain, and that’s what we need to celebrate’. We set out to create a brand that was a bit cheeky and irreverent with really high quality distillation, launching in 2020.
Spirits are all about distillation and vodka, for me, is the purest expression of distillation – there’s nowhere to hide. There are no barrels, no botanicals and no flavours – it’s really just the still and the distiller getting it right or not!
The process starts in a similar way to beer, with a grain that has to be cooked to get the sugars out, then it goes into fermentation. Next, the exciting part starts as it goes through distillation. At Grainshaker, we use three different stills, which remove water while keeping the flavour. The final step is in our dedicated vodka still – a copper pot where we adjust the heat and cooling. We let it rest for at least a month before we do a slow dilution and it’s ready to drink. The whole process takes about eight weeks.
If you go back to the 1930s, Australia was the largest distiller in the southern hemisphere, and that had all but disappeared – until the recent resurgence. There’s been an amazing rebuilding of the industry in recent times with a lot of recognition of our producers. At Grainshaker, we use grain from Australian farmers and each bottle has very few food miles. Consider that a bottle of vodka from Europe travels about 20,000km before it gets to you, but if you’re in Melbourne, your Grainshaker might be less than 30km. Even if you’re in Sydney, it’s maybe 1,000km, which is still a lot less than 20,000!
Eastern Europeans tend to drink it neat in a very small glass, often chilled. When they have important events or parties, they’ll often take the cap off the bottle of vodka and crush it, as an indication to the group that we are going to finish this bottle together – it’s an undertaking and a commitment of friendship! But personally, I think there’s nothing better than a dirty vodka martini with olives. It’s a glorious, powerful drink ice cold. Especially if you’re sipping it with something salty and savoury, like a charcuterie board. And on a hot sunny day, there’s nothing as refreshing as a tall glass of vodka with fresh lemon and soda.
Grainshaker Corn Vodka The corn gives this bottle a rich, smooth mouthfeel with a hint of caramel through it. Ideal for an espresso martini.
Grainshaker Vodka Lime & Soda Can Zesty and refreshing, this crisp drink in a can is perfect for music festivals or barbecues.
Grainshaker Vodka Passionfruit & Soda Can Inspired by Sebastian’s childhood sipping passionfruit soft drink, consider this summer’s tropical spritzer sorted.
Grainshaker Vodka Watermelon & Soda Can When Queensland customers told Grainshaker they wanted a watermelon variety, the team made it happen, creating a juicy, fruity can with a natural sweet finish.