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Healseville has become a hub of great food and drink and the Four Pillars distillery is one of the most popular additions to the growing scene. There are six gins made regularly in the copper-pot still – affectionately named “Wilma” – plus special editions seasonally (such as the Christmas gin, made from Christmas pudding, which sold out last year) and marmalades that use the oranges from the gin-distilling process. Visit the distillery door and go for a gin flight, which includes a chance to sniff samples of the botanicals used in the recipe.
2a Lilydale Road, Healesville; (03) 5962 2791
Bass & Flinders Distillery
There’s a vast range of spirits on offer at Bass & Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula: fancy truffle vodkas, classic limoncello, aged brandy and several flavours of gin. The shiraz grape-based concoctions are tweaked with different botanicals from around the world and Australia, including quirky ingredients such as Australian native lemon grass, to ensure that the distillers are able to keep making up to 2000 unique gins each year. If you fancy yourself something of a gin devotee, try out one of their gin masterclasses, where you’ll learn its history and get a bottle of your own to keep.
232 Red Hill Road, Red Hill; (03) 5989 3154
Image: Katherine Jamison
Timboon Railway Shed Distillery
Taking its cues from history and the under-the-radar whisky makers who ran their illicit operations from the town, Timboon Railway Shed Distillery focuses on creating great single malt whisky. There’s also an on-site restaurant showcasing local meats and cheeses and the distillery serves as the starting point to explore the scrub-lined Rail Trail walking track. Timboon is about three hours west of Melbourne and a pit stop easily accessible from the Great Ocean Road.
The Railway Yard, 1 Bailey Street, Timboon; (03) 5598 3555
The Craft & Co
Peer through the arched windows of this establishment and you’ll spot the still at work. The 120-litre machine at The Craft & Co, which also houses a brewery, café and cellar door, isn’t just for spirits made by the owners of the business, though – other small producers are encouraged to speak with the head distiller about how they can make their own using the equipment. The Craft & Co has experimented with making its own dry gin, grappa, limoncello and even vodka, made from the skins of Victorian tomatoes. Stop by to watch the process, try a little and then settle in for a long lunch.
390 Smith Street, Collingwood; (03) 9417 4755
The stills at Kilderkin Distillery were made to order: two copper creations from Peter Bailly in Hobart that would look completely in place on the set of steampunk film. They made the journey over the Bass Strait in 2016 to find their home at this Ballarat distillery, the first in the region since the last closed in the 1930s. Owners Scott and Chris specialise in gin (always infused with juniper and coriander, no matter the variety) and whiskey that’s currently ageing in kilderkin (18-gallon) barrels, to be served in 2019.
11A Michaels Drive, Alfredton; (03) 5332 0723
Top image: The Craft & Co