James Mylne

Master Distiller/Founder

James has been a distiller for over 10 years. The way he started his professional distilling career is somewhat unconventional. Like most distillers, he started out distilling as a hobby in his parent’s garage in his early 20’s. In his mid-20’s, he moved to Taiwan to learn Mandarin and he really fell in love with the people, language, and culture. He decided he wanted to live there, but he needed a job to survive.

The cost of living is very cheap in Taiwan, but he noticed that alcohol was just as expensive as in Australia, as almost all of it was imported. It was around this time he was asked onto a Taiwanese dating TV show called “Prince Dating.” The hosts of the show asked him what he wanted to do in Taiwan, and he replied that he wanted to work in the alcohol industry. After the show aired he was drinking in a wine bar and was approached by a Taiwanese Businessman. The man had seen him on the dating show and owned a distillery in the mountains outside of Taipei, however, he only made Chinese Spirits as not very many people in Taiwan had knowledge of how to make Western Spirits.

James said he had experience and could help. He gave James a job and so started James’s professional distilling career. James won his first Silver Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition after just 3 months of distilling professionally and his First Double Gold 2 years later. That Double Gold was the first Double Gold Medal awarded to a Taiwanese Gin in the history of that nation.

He decided to return to his hometown of Brisbane to start his own Distillery. Since opening mid-2018 he has won many awards, including being nominated for Best Distiller at the 2019 Tasting Australia Spirit Competition in Adelaide. He is also the first producer of Chinese Baijiu to win a gold medal in the history of Australia. James has a passion for making high-quality locally made craft spirits, and with the continued help of the local community, he plans on adding awards and stories to his list of achievements. When you drink a Finesse Spirit you are a part of James’s story as you are now drinking with Finesse!

Finesse Still

Small Batch is better! Here’s why

When you want a great loaf of bread you probably won’t go looking in the aisle of the supermarket, but instead at your local artisan bakery or patisserie. This is because the amount of care and quality control is unmatched when handcrafting a delicious sourdough loaf or baguette. The same can be said for handcrafted Small Batch Spirits. Small Batch Spirits have been in the spotlight recently and more distilleries are making and marketing them as such. This is because a higher quality and more flavoursome spirit is easier to obtain with smaller stills that make Small Batch Spirits, and here’s why. 

The still, which is the machine that distills spirits, is arguably the most important part of making a high-quality spirit, along with the ingredients, recipe, and experience of the distiller. You can call a spirit a Small Batch Spirit when the still used to distill it has an output no greater than 200 Litres. Smaller stills are much easier to control than larger stills. If you could imagine trying to control a scooter as opposed to a semi-trailer. Some Craft Stills are up to 2000 Litres and are as big as a semi-trailer and then there are the Industrial Stills that can be over 5 stories tall and as big as a block of flats. 

With Small Batch Stills, you can use your senses to manually control the still to separate the Heads, Hearts, and Tails. The heart is the good alcohol that you want to keep and drink, while discarding the heads and tails. With larger stills, it is almost impossible to seperate these parts manually by using your senses and complex electronic control systems need to be used. Even with complex electronic control systems that must be used in larger stills, it is more difficult to separate the Heart (the part you want to drink) from the heads and tails because they overlap to a greater degree. This is because of the huge amount of power going into larger stills, along with the shape, reduced surface areas relative to the size and lag in reaction time, created by the vapour having to travel further through the pipes. 

So while you may be thinking “If small batch stills are easier to control, why not just become a better distiller and use a bigger still?” it’s a little more complicated than that. While larger stills can definitely create amazing spirits, here at Finesse Spirits we enjoy the hands-on approach that comes from using a Small Batch Still. This way James can manually control the still, and taste the output of the still every step of the way to ensure a high-quality handcrafted small batch spirit that can be sipped neat, on the rocks, or added to a mixer. That’s how we drink with Finesse.