While the idea came quickly, the development of the product took three years to perfect.
Paul started with two questions: “What have we got to offer and why is someone going to buy gin from us in the Northern Rivers?” The answer to the first question led him to local ingredients, particularly lemon myrtle, which is native to the region, and Tasmanian pepper berry.
But it still didn’t have that wow factor. “We wanted something unique and unusual,” Paul says.
“We heard about the butterfly pea, a flower that’s been used in Thailand for thousands of years in cooking and herbal infusions.”
The flower is pH sensitive and changes colour when something acidic – like lime or tonic water – is added, Paul says.
“We started building the recipe around that flower – I became a little bit obsessed with it,” he says.
The result? In 2015, Husk launched the world’s first colour-changing gin, Ink Gin, made from 24 traditional, exotic and Australian Native botanicals. In the bottle, the gin is a dramatic indigo liquid, which transforms into a light pink hue when tonic water or lime are added.
“We’re pretty happy with the reactions people have to it,” Paul says, clearly delighted that years of hard work have paid off.
Ink Gin won the Northern Rivers innovation award, quickly followed up by the Australian Drinks Industry Best Innovation in Spirits Award, up against some of the biggest spirit companies in the world. Ink Gin is sold in Singapore, Thailand, Japan, the UK and Italy and will be launched on the US market later this year.
But there’s no resting on their laurels for Paul and Mandy, whose three daughters are also employed by the business. The eldest, Harriet, runs sales and marketing, middle daughter Edwina looks after logistics and despatch and youngest Claudia, works part-time on the bottling line while she’s still studying.