The Story of the Little Austrian Schnapps Hut in the Snowy Mountains
The enchanting story of Wildbrumby begins in the breathtaking Alpine region of Europe, where snowy mountains and rich traditions create a magical tapestry of life. Nestled in the heart of Kossen, Austria, young Monika grew up on her family’s farm, surrounded by rolling green hills and the soothing melodies of her grandfather’s schnapps distillery.
Monika’s grandfather, Stefan Hagleitner, was a master in the art of distilling schnapps, a skill passed down through generations. The aroma of sweet fruits and botanicals filling the air as the copper still worked its magic was a cherished memory for Monika. As she grew older, she learned the secrets of schnapps distillation from her grandfather, immersing herself in the traditional methods honed over centuries.
The family’s cake recipes, with their delectable Austrian flavours, were also treasured heirlooms handed down from one generation to the next. Monika’s love for her Austrian heritage was deeply ingrained, and she dreamt of sharing these authentic flavours with the world.
Meanwhile, Brad Spalding grew up in a different world, thousands of miles away in Australia’s NSW and Victorian fruit belt. The son of a fruit and vegetable merchant and a publican, Brad’s journey would eventually lead him to the snowy peaks of the Victorian Alps, where he started his career as a ski instructor at the tender age of 15. Over time, he rose to become the director of the prestigious Thredbo Snow Sports School.
During one fateful winter, Brad found himself in the picturesque Austrian region of Kitzbühel, teaching skiing to eager enthusiasts. It was there that destiny intervened, and he met the love of his life, Monika. Enchanted by her warm Austrian hospitality and mesmerized by the tales of her family’s schnapps-distilling legacy, Brad knew he had found something extraordinary.
Together, Monika and Brad embarked on a shared dream – to create the “Little Austrian Schnapps Hut” and bring the authentic taste of European culture to the Australian Alpine region. They believed that the pure mountain water and the splendid Thredbo Valley provided the perfect backdrop to introduce home-grown schnapps to Australian alpine enthusiasts.
With unwavering determination, they imported an Ulrich Kothe still from Germany and, in 2003, opened the doors to the Wildbrumby Distillery. Combining the traditional distilling methods learned from Monika’s grandfather with exclusive access to locally grown organic fruit and botanicals, they created a new line of liqueur schnapps ideally suited to tantalize Australian palates.
Sebastian Druege, a passionate distiller hailing from Europe, joined the Wildbrumby team, infusing his expertise and creativity to expand the spirit range further. Together with Monika, Brad, and the rest of the team, Sebastian played a crucial role in crafting exciting new products that captured the essence of European tradition while embracing the unique Australian alpine spirit. Their collaborative efforts gave birth to an array of innovative liqueur schnapps, gin, and vodka, each bottle telling a story of the snowy mountains and the rich heritage that inspired them.
As the years passed, the distillery flourished under Monika’s care, as she continued to honour her Austrian roots by sourcing the finest Austrian products to sell in the cellar door. Her warm hospitality and passion for sharing her culture with visitors made Wildbrumby a unique and welcoming destination.
Beyond the spirits they crafted, the Spaldings had a grander vision – to create an artistic haven in the Snowy Mountains. Brad, with his own creative flair, adorned the distillery and its surroundings with sculptures that celebrated the majesty of the snowy landscape. His works portrayed the wild and untamed nature of the alpine region, along with playful depictions of skiing unique to Australia.
Monika, in her dedication to preserving the essence of Austria, made sure that the distillery’s visitors could experience the true spirit of her homeland. Alongside the award-winning liqueur schnapps, gin, and vodka, shelves are adorned with carefully curated Austrian products. Handmade Huttenschuhe and Giesswein Slippers, the cosy and traditional footwear that epitomized Austrian comfort, found their place alongside the spirits, adding an authentic touch to the cellar door.
Looking to the future, the Wildbrumby team was thrilled to announce recent upgrades to their distillery, including installing a state-of-the-art 600-litre still named Joan. This new equipment enhanced their distillation process, bringing even more depth and richness to their spirits.
Furthermore, an automated bottling line was introduced, streamlining production and increasing efficiency, ensuring that more enthusiasts could savour the flavours of the Alpine region. Yet, amidst their progress, the team remained committed to their sustainability goals. They sourced organic ingredients locally whenever possible, reducing their carbon footprint, and actively participated in environmental initiatives to protect the stunning landscape they called home.
Today, as the sun sets over the picturesque landscape of the Snowy Mountains, visitors can sip on the award-winning liqueur schnapps, gin, and vodka while immersing themselves in the art and spirit of Wildbrumby. The legacy of Monika’s Austrian family, entwined with Brad’s artistic vision and Sebastian’s expertise, continues to weave a tapestry of tradition and creativity, where the snowy mountain spirit melds with the soul of European heritage. Together, they toast to their shared journey, celebrating the past and embracing the future with an unwavering commitment to authenticity, quality, and sustainable practices. And in the heart of Wildbrumby Distillery, the warm Austrian hospitality lives on, inviting guests to experience the exquisite spirits and the handmade treasures that connect them to the heart of Austria.
Back Story of Wildbrumby
Illustrations Zoe Young (three time Archibald Prize finalist & winner of the 2019 Portia Geach Art Prize)
Narration by Frank Prehoda (The worlds oldest living Olympian at 97, representing Australia in the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina D’Ampezzo)