After more than a decade of extraordinary adventures across the African continent as a family, Justin and Anna decided to return to Europe with their two young daughters in 2012. Both had fallen in love with Provence in their youth and decided to spend a holiday in the region.
During the holiday, they realised that they hadn’t come across any local distillery making internationally recognised spirits, like gin or vodka. This led to the idea and creation of QVT - the next challenge in their lives.
Justin spent the better part of five years developing the project, visiting distilleries in the US, the UK and Germany, where he gained in-depth knowledge about the science and art of distilling.
Anna and Justin were both involved in complex project management roles in challenging environments in the past and they drew on these experiences in the creation of the QVT distillery.
Justin is an adventurer at heart.
Justin has run across the Himalayas, from Darjeeling to Gulmug (equivalent to 81 consecutive marathons), he has kayaked the Zambezi river from its source in Zambia to the sea in Mozambique and he has travelled extensively across eastern and southern Africa as well as Pakistan and Peru. (There are several books featuring Justin’s adventures…).
After leaving school in Scotland, Justin started his career as a salmon farmer, a sailing instructor and a mentor for young people. It was a job for the organisation Operation Raleigh, a charity that helps young people defy limitations through adventures and community projects in the wild, that took Justin to Zimbabwe in the early 1990s.
In the late 1990s, Justin moved to Zambia and helped establish a safari company with lodges in the South Luangwa and the Kafue National Parks. After several years in the safari industry (and countless gin & tonics - for malaria prevention purposes), Justin’s next challenge came in south Sudan, where he helped establish a series of fuel depots for the United Nations. This was followed by the opportunity to work with security sector reform, first in DRC and after that in Mogadishu in Somalia. Justin’s work took him to extraordinary environments very much ‘off the beaten track ‘, such as the remote area of the Sudd in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Justin holds an MLitt in Terrorism Studies from the University of St Andrews.
Anna loves a challenge.
Anna’s love for exploring the new and unknown woke during a backpacking trip to Australia in 1988. Between university studies in Economics (Anna holds a Masters in Health and Pharmaco Economics), she spent six months studying French in Montpellier and a few months studying Spanish in Guatemala, but it was during a longer trip to Africa in 1994 that she found her first mission - to work with health and development. In 1997, Anna left her job at the Swedish Ministry of Health and joined the World Health Organisation in Zambia.
During the following 13 years, she managed projects and worked as an advisor for organisations like the Swedish Embassy and the EU, which gave her the chance to work with health development across the African continent and to live in countries like Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and the Sudan. Her work took her to cities like Bamako, Ouagadougou, Brazzaville and Kinshasa, and the whole family lived in Khartoum for a year.
Anna is of Swedish-Estonian origin, which puts her genes firmly in the so called Vodka belt. Both her father and grandfather made their own flavoured vodka - or schnapps - for special holidays, so the idea of producing spirits felt very natural.