Obaid unveils vodka vision

Mirboo North could be the site of a new vodka distillery which would produce about a million litres of the clear spirit in a year, if a council planning application is successful.

South Gippsland Shire Council is considering an application for the distillery on a 44-hectare site on Boolarra-Mirboo North Road, about seven kilometres out of town.

Developer Obaid Naqebullah intends to convert his weekend property into what he hopes will become a local tourist attraction, employing around 30 people.

Mr Naqebullah said Mirboo North was an ideal site to produce quality vodka, due to the amount of local potato growers in the area.

“The potato farmers around Mirboo North produce the best raw ingredient for vodka in the country and I can see a way to value-add into a product that would draw attention to the whole region,” Mr Naqebullah said.

“There would be an opportunity for tasting cellar door as part of my plans, so not only direct sales to industry, but also an opportunity for vodka lovers to visit Gippsland and purchase direct from the distillery.”

According to shire documents, the proposed distillery would need about a million tonnes of potatoes a year to mash and create 21,000 litres a week for both the domestic and export markets.

It would include 79 car parks for 100 visitors.

A café would serve food sourced from an external contractor.

Mr Naqebullah came to Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee when he was 16 and intended to become a mechanic.

Instead, he fell into the building trade and now runs two businesses.

Mr Naqebullah said he spendt a lot of time with his family on the Mirboo North property and fell in love with the local community and countryside.

He said he had run the idea passed his neighbours, who gave him the thumbs-up.

“I honestly believe this can be a win-win for everyone – the local farmers, local tourism industry and the reputation for the region in producing value-added, world-class product” he said.

To view the planning application, or to make a submission, visit South Gippsland Shire Council website.