The Elements of Flavour with The National Distillery (Hawke’s Bay, NZ) 11–12 November 2023


Join Jill Mulvaney of the Alembics Lab and Cristian Hossack of the National Distillery for something truly special—a deep dive into flavour in this weekend of exploration and experimentation.

Presenting two full days focused on the essential elements of zero ABV drinks and gin. This workshop is for anyone interested in building flavour and creating their own recipes and botanical blends. We will be using a variety of techniques and tools, including hydro, steam and vapour-infusion techniques, and blending with quintessences (individual botanical extracts). We may even discover the National Distillery’s next summer gin blend.

Location: At The National Distillery’s beautiful Art Deco premises in Napier (1 Ossian Street, Ahuriri, Napier 4110).

Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th November 2023.

You can choose to do just one or both days at the weekend. Lunch is provided.


Saturday 11th November 10.30-3.30


Covers using water as a solvent (infusions, hydro and steam distillations) tastings and discussions of different types of water, in particular what they can contribute to both process and to flavour.

  • Introduction on water as life, the energetics of water and solubility.
  • Make an infusion with seasonal aromatics (spanning the flavour spectrum of citrus, leafy, flower, root) served with a herbal honey elixir.
  • Infusions: What is in our water—solubility and polarity.
  • Hydro distillation in the 10L copper cask hood still—using the same seasonal aromatics to create a layered and complex hydrosol (the base for our zero ABV botanical martini).
  • Water tasting—wild water, distilled water, reverse osmosis, commercial bottled and tap water. A tasting and organoleptic evaluation of different types of water led by Cristian and Jill.
  • Break for lunch.
  • Steam distillation in the 10L copper alembic column still—how to distil a seasonal essential oil (using one of our chosen botanicals).
  • Our essential oil: what’s NOT in the water? Discussion of separation and low polarity VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).
  • Make a botanical martini—we’ll end the day with this complex and delicious zero ABV cocktail made with our hydrosol, EO and herbal honey elixir.

Sunday 12th November 10.30-3.30


Covers alcohol as a solvent and how to work with it to build flavour. Create two different gins (using the vapour-infusion technique), learn to structure blends, and explore the flavour profiles of different base spirits.

  • Introduction to the mighty ethanol molecule and its applications.
  • How to make a classic gin blend—creating a well-balanced gin recipe (for use in our first distillation).
  • How to create bespoke gin blends (the really fun part)—under the guidance of Jill and Christian the group will create a new blend using a wide array of classic, seasonal and experimental botanicals (for use in our second distillation).
  • Demonstration of two vapour distillations—using the blends we have made and two 3L copper appliance stills we will take you through the complete gin distillation process from start to finish.
  • Tasting of The National Distillery range.
  • Break for lunch.
  • Making a neutral spirit—Cristian talks us through the fermentation and distillation of high-quality neutral spirit, with a guided tour of the distillery.
  • Alcohol tasting—we sample and compare a wash or ferment, lactanol, grain spirit, sugar-based spirit, The National Distillery vodka and Russian vodka.
  • Blending experiment—create your own micro blend in a shot glass using our single botanical spirit extracts (quintessences).
  • Complete our gin distillations: Each person gets 30mls samples to take home.


Cristian Hossack has been part of The National Distillery Team since 2019. Four years and several 100,000 bottles of gin later, he’s still there, and has expanded from gin, to rum and is now embarking upon the NDC’s journey into whisky. Cristian is originally from the Rangitikei, but his 25+ years in hospitality has taken him to many places around New Zealand and the world, including 15 years working in Australia and the UK. When working on Waiheke Island, he met and formed a fast friendship with Jill Mulvaney over their shared love of flavour and experimentation. Many a spare afternoon was spent fermenting various concoctions and distilling the results. They’re back together again for this innovative and fun new workshop.

Questions or need more information? Email