Trevor Peterson earned an engineering degree from Cal Poly-SLO. He worked in the aerospace and medical equipment industries, as well as an L.A.-based software company. In June, however, he left all that behind to concentrate full time on a side business he opened five years years ago in Gonzales – a distillery producing Bixby Dry Gin.
It’s still a small operation. Peterson numbers every bottle by hand and goes door to door (to bars and liquor stores) to spread the word. He named the operation – Lloyd Distillery – after his father. The gin? Well that was inspired by Big Sur.
Weekly: Why gin?
Peterson: The truth is I thought it would be easy. It actually took 18 months to get it to where I was in love with it – 40 or 50 iterations to get that complex experience. In wine, you lead with the nose. I was always frustrated with the lack of complex aromas in gin, where you don’t have one botanical blowing out the rest. The only way I could get those enhanced aromatics was making a basket – inspired by those espresso machines, but on a massive scale. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
How difficult is the business side?
Oh, you know – it’s challenging. The industry is dominated by a few big players, so the challenge is awareness. And all the basics, the marketing, keeping up with demand.
Gin has a reputation.
I think it can be polarizing in a similar way to tequila. Twenty years ago if you were young, gin was a strong flavor. And what was available then was an older gin style, very spicy, very piney. Bixby is fruit forward.
What’s the Big Sur connection?
Hiking up to Big Sur – those botanicals will get your there. There’s sage and elderflower. It’s a flavor profile that’s fun and unique. Flavors take you places.