Five Australian Distillers You Should Know About

A wonderful eruption of local distillers has taken place in Australia over the last few years – yet that is not to say that there weren’t any here before. Often when old meets new you get something truly eclectic and in this case, we find ourselves with a fantastic mix of passionate producers championing award-winning spirits.

Words by Hannah Sparks

HELLYERS ROAD DISTILLERY

In the unlikely city of Burnie, Tasmania, where the coast meets country, is a cooperative of dairy farmers producing some of Australia’s best whisky. In 1997, at a time when the rest of Australia wasn’t concentrating on locally made spirits, the visionary dairy farmers at Betta Milk quietly began planning the build of a distillery where they would craft premium single malts. Set on neighbouring fields, the location was perfect – taking advantage of the locally grown barley, cool climate, clean air and pure rainwater driven in from the infamous Bass Straight that surrounds the area. In 1999, the Tasmanian Whisky Proprietary as it was known then, would place its first whisky into barrels. It would be seven years before it would see the bottle, the distillery’s minimum age requirement, but when it reached the public in 2006, it was evident they had captured something special. People loved their whisky, and in 2010 it was awarded the title of Australia’s Best Whisky.

153 Old Surrey Road,
Burnie, TAS 7320
(03) 6433 0439
Opening Hours:
Mon-Sun: 10am-4.30pm

ST AGNES DISTILLERY

Master Distiller Ben Horley

To make brandy, you need grapes, and in South Australia, there are bucket loads. That’s where family winemakers Angove, which owns vineyards across the state’s best-known regions, established a brandy distillery in 1910. The idea was first generation Dr. William Angove’s; he had wanted to make a plain spirit for fortifying wine and set up the distillery and barrel halls in the town of Renmark. It was his son Carl, however, in 1925 who established brandy making at St Agnes and developed a style that was lighter and more delicate than other Australian brandies at the time. It is this history that has put St Agnes on the map for our best brandy and even Best In World, three times in fact, with old reserves allowing the distillery to create VSOP (very superior old pale) and XO (extra old) brandies, up to 40 years old.

Bookmark Avenue,
Renmark, SA 5341
(08) 8580 3148
Opening Hours:
10.30am (by appointment only)

KANGAROO ISLAND SPIRITS

Kangaroo Island Spirits owners Jon and Sarah Lark with friends

Kangaroo Island Spirits is the original and one of the best when it comes to Australian gin. Power couple Jon and Sarah Lark were inspired to open Australia’s first gin dedicated distillery in 2006, after returning from a trip to the UK where they visited one of the country’s leading producers of the spirit. What makes Jon and Sarah’s gin stick out from the bunch is their innovative use of native botanicals and continued dedication to traditional, handcrafted distilling methods. Their most popular, Old Tom Gin, is a slightly sweet gin, aged in French oak for about a month and made with locally foraged botanicals such as juniper, coastal daisy bush, lemon and aniseed myrtle. Keen for a visit? No points for guessing where to find the distillery, but be sure to give yourself a day, with Kangaroo Island Spirits located a 45-minute ferry ride from Adelaide and a further 45-minute drive once you’ve reached the remote island.

856 Playford Highway,
Cygnet River, SA 5223
(08) 8553 9211
Opening Hours:
Mon–Sun: 11am–5.30pm

TIMBOON RAILWAY SHED DISTILLERY

Great Ocean Road

The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery is owned and operated by Josh Walker with the help of his partner Caitlin. A local entrepreneur who had been experimenting with home brewing for a few years, in 2015 the 26-year-old decided to turn his hand to spirits when he saw the distillery was for sale in the local paper. Josh can be found on most days managing all of the distilling from the 600L still that sits in the corner of the distillery’s restaurant. Using mostly ex-Australian fortified wine barrels, Josh creates whiskies rich in flavour, and this year Timboon’s Single Malt Whisky Christies Cut won Bronze at the Australian Distilled Spirit Awards. Timboon’s other spirits include the sweet and earthy Otway Saffron Vodka and Premium Snake Track Vodka – a grain based spirit with a touch of vanilla. For those with a sweet tooth, we recommend a dash of Jim Love’s Strawberry Schnapps or Timboon’s delicious Coffee Cream Liqueur.

The Railway Yard,
1 Bailey Street,
Timboon, VIC 3268
(03) 5598 3555
Opening Hours:
Mon–Sun: 10am–4.30pm

DISTILLERY BOTANICA

Distillery Botanica owner and Master Distiller Philip Moore

After 20-plus years as a trained horticulturist and herbalist, Philip Moore decided to explore the art of distilling, focusing on showcasing Australian botanicals, using handcrafted techniques. Philip bought a small still in 2006 and begun learning his craft through experiments – sometimes 100 a day – and any books he could get his hands on. Today, Philip makes a range of premium liqueurs, including the popular Mr Black Coffee Liqueur that has taken off in bars across the country, plus a vodka, and more recently gin. Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin is one of Australia’s originals and was the first ever Australian gin to win a Gold Medal at the prestigious 2017 International Wine and Spirit Competition. It features a blend of traditional gin botanicals such as juniper and coriander, as well as native botanicals including macadamia and Illawarra plum to create a new age, uplifting gin.

25 Portsmouth Road,
Erina, NSW 2250
(02) 4365 3968
Opening Hours:
Wed-Sun: 10am-5pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *