The Journey of Hopscotch
Life has a funny way of working out, doesn’t it? The Hop in Hopscotch wasn’t so much a Hop as it was a marathon! As a young engineer in Cape Town – South Africa, Matt, the founder and director of Hopscotch, worked for many years with what was then the second largest brewing company on the planet. The work was stimulating and he learnt most anything he could about designing and operating breweries, and of course, some lessons on what not to do (!). Contributing to beer profiling taste panels on near weekly basis was a great perk of the job – but also helped bring the realisation that something was missing. Spirits!
Not content with just the art of brewing beer, Matt started distilling in his humble home – and like so many good things – Hopscotch was born in a shed. “My first still was cobbled together from whatever was available,” he recalls, “I started first with a recipe for brandy, steeped for six months on smoked ironwood and red-gum chip. It was when friends began asking if they might order some of it, that I realised I might actually have something. Then came Whisky for Dad, of course – his preferred tipple, and to this day Dad still prefers mine to the usual suspects. But living with the sub-tropical heat of Brisbane – it wasn’t long before it was all about the Gin! To me Gin is about the warmer climates, but it can be all things to all men (and women!). It can be the refreshing tang one needs after a hard day’s work, or it could be the delicate appreciation of flavours by the more sophisticated of palettes under a starry sky!”
Matt did what he could to keep the passion alive, burning the candle at both ends; designing craft breweries and micro distilleries for others who were further along the financially bumpy road that is this cobblestone dream in creativity. “I travelled the breadth of Australia and across China, I worked with manufacturers, and brewers alike, learning what was possible and all the while being inspired with ideas of possible botanicals from Southern Australia to Northern China. All in all – the challenges and the long road, I hope, show themselves in the Gin you taste today.”
Tell us where you have taken your Hopscotch to – we’d love to share your photos and story!