MAKING the transition from corporate Sydney life to rural Murrurundi just over three years ago has resulted in a more inspiring and satisfying lifestyle for boutique gin makers Geoff and Nikki Drummond.
The pair launched Magpie Distilling in May this year out of a yearning to do something creative and authentic, and the 'Crown of the Hunter' has proved to be the perfect launching pad for their vision.
"Murrurundi is not only spectacularly beautiful, but our community is one of inclusion, support and generosity," Nikki told The Advocate.
Their range of products are carefully perfected over time and aim to showcase the Upper Hunter region's distinctive environment with local botanicals sourced and blended and their flavours carefully extracted through the process of distillation.
Spirits currently on offer include their flagship gin, the Murrurundi Dry Gin, the Autumn Harvest Gin - with notes of orange and saffron - and the Dark Cane Spirit which is similar to spiced gold rum.
Three additional gin flavours are set to be launched over the coming months.
Despite being their first attempt at commercial gin making, Magpie Distilling was fortunate enough to be awarded gold and bronze medals at this year's Australian Gin Awards.
Nikki explained how the idea came about and what drove the pair towards making the tree-change to Murrurundi.
"Geoff was a long time home brewer and amateur alchemist with a nose for fine spirits," she said.
"After a week on the whisky trail in the Highlands of Scotland, Geoff's head exploding with ideas, we knew that we wanted to make a change and that we needed to make a now or never decision. Magpie is our roll of the dice."
The "quintessentially Australian, clever, industrious and loyal" magpie, or "Swoopy Boiz" as Nikki and Geoff like to call them, were their brand of choice after a band of the birds regularly visited their verandah every day, befriending them the moment they moved to Murrurundi.
"There is a wonderful Aboriginal Dreaming story about how the magpies pushed up the sky from the earth to create daylight, space and the first sunrise," Nikki continued.
"The magpies all worked together to raise up the sky and let in the light of the Sun-woman. And it's said that the magpies greet the Sun-woman with their beautiful song of thanks every day and remind everyone else of their important role of holding up the sky.
"We are not so bold to imply that we are as noble as that, but the sentiment of hard work and gratitude is one that we hope represents our ethos."
Nikki says the Murrurundi community have been unbelievably welcoming and supportive of their business, with assistance and encouragement at every turn.
"On a personal level we have been embraced by a community of hard working people who have pulled together through the harsh reality of long term drought and now the pandemic," she said.
"The people of Murrurundi are extraordinary and we have been humbled by their friendship and their inclusiveness.
"There is no place we'd rather be."
While Murrurundi may seem like your typical rural tree-change, it is quite a popular destination for 'creatives' to relocate and Nikki and Geoff are in good company with the likes of international art dealer Michael Reid and award winning photographer and artist David Darcy both calling the town home.