Woolgoolga distillers win Silver Medal in World Vodka Awards

Chris Fraser wants all aspects of his business to be sustainable and local.


WOOLGOOLGA’S Critters Distillery have been awarded a Silver medal for Australia in the World Vodka Awards 2021 for their Original Vodka.

Chris Fraser has been brewing and distilling since his university days, and, with his wife Nicola, opened Critters Distillery in 2020.

Critters brews vodka using sugar from the Harwood Sugar Mill and single-origin, small batch wheat from the Riverina.

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All components of producing the vodka are Australian, except for the bottle, which was made in France, and the stills, which cannot be sourced in Australia.

Even the label on the bottle was produced by a local graphic designer who also designed Critters’ website.

Chris said he could have sourced Critters’ printing much more cheaply overseas but has kept it local.

Critters vodka is a “sipping vodka”, and with ”hints” of grapefruit, citrus, dark plum, pepper and, sometimes, star anise, it is to be enjoyed on its own, and not to be adulterated with tonic water or anything else.

Chris said the United States and the European Union require vodka to be odourless and tasteless, so it is carbon filtered.

Australian distillers do not have this restriction, so distillers are able to produce more flavoursome vodkas.

Critters’ vodka is distilled in custom-made equipment which allows for better contact with yeast during the fermentation process, and botanicals (which supply the flavour) are carefully chosen.

Local and native botanicals give the vodka its unique flavours.

Chris said, “We use as many native botanicals as possible.”

The process is also as sustainable as possible, with waste water stored in tanks to be collected by a local farmer and grain waste going to a free range poultry farm.

Critters started setting up in January last year, but, because of COVID-19, the first 14 batches were used for hand sanitiser.

Chris said that the craft distilling community in Australia is close knit and helps each other, meaning businesses freely swapped hand sanitiser recipes.

Critters vodka was officially launched last September.

It is available at the cellar door and in local bottle shops, but most sales are online.

There are plans to release a gin soon, which will be made from vodka flavoured with 51% juniper and local and native botanicals.

Visitors can book online for tours and tastings every Saturday and Sunday, during which vodka is tasted with Australian cheeses, meats, smoked salmon and jams.


By Andrew VIVIAN


Custom-made equipment helps give Critters vodka its unique flavours.

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