Meet the maker - Braden Saunders, co-founder of Doghouse Distillery

Doghouse Distillery produces grain-to-bottle spirits in Battersea, complete with unconventional packaging and a dose of rebellious attitude. Its spirits are now stocked in Majestic, Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange and Selfridges, as well as selected wholesalers. 

Rachel Badham met co-founder Braden Saunders – who set up Doghouse in 2017 with wife Katherine – to discuss the next generation of flavoured spirits and how the couple’s passion for music inspired the Doghouse ethos.

How did you get into distilling? 

It goes back to 2011 when Katherine and I bought a pub, which at the time was one of only two craft beer pubs in Brisbane, along with another on the other side of town. The premise was that we would support things that people hadn’t heard of, while still providing quality beer. 

The thing that then got me into distillation was when I started learning about brewing and I just loved it and how versatile craft beer could be. That led me to want to create products that had a reason rather than to just replicate everything else on the market, which is why we don’t filter our vodka. 

How is the flavour profile of your unfiltered vodka different to those that are filtered? 

We knew we weren’t going to get the whole market with Baller vodka because the majority is neutral, filtered vodka. But our purpose for it was that it was different. When you filter vodka, you take out impurities that have been created in the fermentation process. So with our unfiltered vodka, you get the subtle taste of that wheat fermentation, along with all that texture and character that gets stripped out by carbon filtering. 

Heavily filtered vodka is quite sharp, but unfiltered maintains that silkiness and structure so that you can feel it in your mouth – it can be appreciated in its own right, like a whisky.  

Do you think there’s space in the market for more unusual flavours, such as your Baller Chilli Bacon Vodka? 

I hope so! Chilli Bacon was purpose-built for Bloody Marys because I think the best Bloody Marys always have that element of bacon in them, but the vodka itself is actually vegan. What we wanted to do was create something that, once again, had a purpose, but was interesting. It’s something people haven’t had before, but because it has a purpose, it can be understood by consumers. 

What role does your love of music play in the production of Doghouse spirits? 

Good drink is generally accompanied by good music, and music is the one thing I could not give up. One time Katherine and I were having a few drinks and we were just like: “Why don’t we make something inspired by music?” So we focused on that and started thinking about different music categories and how particular genres inspire the album artwork that complements the music. 

We wanted our Renegade gin to have a rock ’n’ roll theme, and because a lot of rock stars have tattoos as a form of self-expression, we asked a tattoo artist to design the label, which incorporates both old and modern-day London. This also reflects how our gin is a new version of an Old World spirit. 

What does Doghouse Distillery do to support the London arts and culture scene? 

Covid has been a bit disruptive to our plans, but we have a few customers who have live music venues and we help to stock those. We’ve also started working with some production studios by having our gin in their on-site bars, and we’re starting to get to know some London-based artists, too. 

We want to actively support the grassroots music scene because, in a way, these guys are on a similar path to us where every expense is a big one.

 

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