A standout experience at a distillery has to be about more than award-winning alcohol: it’s a special blend of education, environment and attitude, as well as the tasting. Here are our favourite distillery experiences around the nation.
Four Pillars’ cellar door in Healesville is a slick, well-run operation that belies the fact that this artisan company is just six years old. Masterclasses, cocktail-making courses, hands-on sessions with the distillers, food trucks that park outside on weekends and several gins behind the bar – yep, they want you to stay for a while. And with all that’s on offer, why wouldn’t you?
2a Lilydale Road, Healesville, Victoria; (03) 5962 2791
Archie Rose in Sydney’s inner-south has got the urban distillery experience nailed. Sure, there are tours and a range of masterclasses to choose from but it’s the fit-out—more a classy, convivial bar than a tasting room – which really entices.
85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, NSW; (02) 8294 0069
In the leafy Adelaide Hills, Brendan and Laura Carter’s winery-distillery hybrid is a charming place to lose an afternoon. There are tastings of their range (both Unico Zelo wines and Applewood spirits, which includes gins, amaros and cellos) as well as on-site distillery tours. The bar serves cocktails and wines by the glass, as well as tasting flights. Build your own cheese-and-charcuterie platter from the fridge and settle in.
24 Victoria Street, Gumeracha, South Australia; (08) 8389 1250
Margaret River Distilling Company
Erudite drinkers will appreciate the scholarly moniker at Margaret River Distilling Company—‘Giniversity’ is a three- to four-hour intensive where you’ll learn about distillation and the history of gin then come away with a bespoke concoction. If the idea of going back to class sends shivers up your spine, never fear: Ginversity is way more fun that your bachelor’s degree.
Maxwell Street, Margaret River, WA; (08) 9757 9351
With views of rolling hills and distant dense bushscape, the setting at McHenry at Mount Arthur in Tasmania is hard to beat. But the spirits make a fairly decent impression, too. Inside the cellar door, you can sample an award-winning range of gin, whisky and vodka. Even better, you can join an interactive gin-making workshop, which includes lunch and your own spirit to take home.
229 Radnor Road, Port Arthur, Tasmania; (03) 6250 2533
Tasmanian whisky pioneer Bill Lark began crafting malt whisky in 1992; his distillery was the first to open in the state in 150 years. For that reason alone, it’s worth visiting the brand’s Hobart cellar door. Other reasons include the 150-plus whiskies behind the bar, Lark’s “side projects” of vodka, gin, brandy and rum, and the array of Tasmanian beer, wine and cider also on offer.
14 Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania; (03) 6231 9088
Barossa Gin School
A collaboration between Maggie Beer’s The Eatery and Durand Distillery. During a visit you can learn the alchemy of crafting gin in a four-hour session, in which you choose your botanical, then distil, bottle and label a personalised blend.
Pheasant Farm Road, Nuriootpa, South Australia; (08) 8562 1902
Bass & Flinders Distillery
It’s the array at Bass & Flinders that appeals the most: grappa, limoncello and several flavours of gin, from truffle-infused to the ominous sounding Monsoon, which actually features refreshing botanicals such as lemongrass, ginger and ginseng. Don’t leave without tasting the aged brandy made from chardonnay grapes.
232 Red Hill Road, Red Hill, Victoria; (03) 5989 3154
Whipper Snapper Distillery
At this East Perth distillery (where they brew moonshine and whisky), you can do daily tastings, whisky and coffee pairings, behind the scenes tours and, on the first Saturday of every month, a workshop on the art of whisky making.
139 Kensington Street, East Perth, Western Australia; (08) 9221 2293
The Brix cellar door only opened in August but already it’s become a firm favourite within the spirit scene for its bar-restaurant approach. The South American-led menu, designed by Ivan Sanchez (ex-Porteño), is the perfect accompaniment to the rum-focused drinks list.
350 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, NSW; (02) 9360 5441