By Kate Foreman
There’s a new ferment on the block and it’s set to have South Australians buzzing for a refreshing summer ahead.
University pals Tom O’Reilly and Eddy Collett are making their mead dream a reality with Sunlight Liquor taking to the scene in recent months, with their modern take on mead, made from pure South Australian honey.
Mead is a liqueur-strength drink created by fermenting honey with water, and dates back to ancient times. Today, the Sunlight Liquor team are bringing the bee-based beverage up to date with a low-alcohol, sparkling variety.
Showcasing at Ferment the Festival in Adelaide and the Robe Home Brew and Craft Beer Festival in October has certainly put these guys on the map.
“We have been blown away with the response,” says Eddy.
“We are making quite a different product to anything else on the market, but people love the taste and the concept – it’s thrilling to see people getting behind us.
“Connecting with punters has been amazing – it’s such a thrill taking people through a tasting of something they’ve never experienced before,” adds Tom.
Tom and Eddy met at university in Canberra, where they both studied botany and microbiology while also honing in on their own fermentation skills.
After university Tom worked with Stone & Wood in Byron Bay, while Eddy returned to South Australia and went into research, then beekeeping amongst all other kinds of artisanal and epicurean endeavours based on his family farm at Waitpinga.
Their mead dream started to become a reality after Tom moved to SA for vintage at Limestone Coast winery Cape Jaffa Wines.
“Our interest is in making varietal meads that honour the unique and amazing honey we have here in Australia,” says Eddy.
“It’s booze from the bush – it doesn’t get much more Australian than that,” adds Tom.
The pair is working towards Sunlight Liquor becoming a full-time farm-based mead-making brewery, with plans underway to build their fermentation studio/bar on Eddy’s farm at Waitpinga in 2018.
“As a new product and new company we have a long way to go to raise the profile of modern sparkling mead in Australia,” says Eddy.
“We are super excited about bringing out a few new products that showcase our innovative take of mead over the summer.”
Sunlight Liquor produce their mead through concepts and methods drawn from making wine, craft beer and gin.
“Our honey comes from all across SA as our beekeepers migrate with their hives following flowering events across the state,” says Eddy.
“Our first release, Sparkling Orange Blossom, features orange blossom honey from the Riverland, whilst our Gums & Roses is a ‘bee-blend’ of Wirrabara Gums, we use some Strawberry Gum leaves, a native ingredient infusion that brings some exciting and uniquely Australian flavours.
“We put a big emphasis on sourcing local, ethical and sustainable ingredients.
“We’re also quite excited about our latest honey flow of Coastal Mallee (Euc. diversifolia) that we are working with currently for our summer release.”
For the lads at Sunlight Liquor it is about balance, refreshment, highlighting the honey and telling a story of the landscape it comes from.
“We have taken quite a lot of creative licence with what is quite a traditional drink,” says Eddy.
“Making a lower alcohol, dry and sparkling drink sets us apart from the majority of mead on the market.
“It’s important to us that our products are not just easy to drink but also promote healthy sustainable relationships with the land,” adds Tom.
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