By day, Dr Martin Wood is a top neurosurgeon, performing delicate brain and spinal surgery at Mater Hospital Hospital. Come weekends, however, he trades his surgical scrubs for a distiller’s apron, retreating to his boutique distillery in Geebung to craft small-batch single malt whiskies and spirits.
The Scottish-born surgeon, who grew up appreciating fine whisky, established Kitty Hawk Distillery in 2017 with his wife Nicole and business partners Andrew and Natalie Vann.
“When the craft distilling scene began to grow here in Australia, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss,” he said.
“I have always loved making things and demystifying the process by which things are created, prepared or assembled.
He uses traditional techniques to produce small-batch spirits like gin, apple brandy and whisky matured in barrels to develop complex flavours.
Dr Wood’s creations are winning approval from discerning drinkers, with new releases being snapped up before they are even advertised.
His Flyer single malt pays homage to the Wright brothers’ first powered aircraft, whilst the Byron Double is finished in rum casks from a distillery in Byron Bay.
“Everything in the distillery is done by hand – the distilling, barrelling, bottling, labelling. It is a laborious but very rewarding process.
“Our focus at this stage is on providing small-batch, high-quality spirits for the local Australian market.”
For Dr Wood, distilling is a “passion project” and a creative outlet from his intense neurosurgery work. But he also hopes to put Brisbane-made whisky on the map as a premium product that can rival offerings from other regions.
“We are determined to show that great aged spirits can be produced in a hot climate like ours in Brisbane,” he said. The surgeon brings an exacting, meticulous approach to his hobby, ensuring every step is done by hand for the highest quality and consistency.
So whilst Dr Wood spends his working days performing painstaking surgery inside people’s heads, he unwinds by hand-crafting his own “surgical spirit” – proof that sometimes life’s passions can come from unexpected places.
Dr Wood’s Kitty Hawk spirits are currently available for purchase online and at select bottle shops and bars in Brisbane. The distillery also ships products directly to customers within Queensland and interstate.