If you haven’t noticed the explosion of local craft gin, you’re missing out. Australian distilleries are winning awards right around the globe, and there is now more home-grown than imported gin on bottle shop shelves and cocktail bar menus. Local gin crafters are leaning into responsible sourcing of Indigenous botanicals to produce even more interesting gins.
Take the guesswork out of “gin distillery near me” and discover these local crafted gin masterpieces.
Archie Rose Distilling Co. is a distillery, bar, cellar door and a neighbourhood after-work gathering place in Sydney. Founded in 2015 by Will Edwards, the distillery produces a range of crafty gin, rum, vodka and whisky from its original home in Rosebery, and a brand new state-of-the-art distillery in nearby Banksmeadow. The Rosebery distillery now serves as the home of Archie Rose’s Tailored Spirits Experiences where you can learn to craft your own gin and try cocktail masterclasses.
Located about 30 minutes from Hobart, the family-owned Shene Estate and Distillery is steeped in history dating back to the time of King George III. Set in an 1800s timber building, the distillery operation, established in 2014, is home to one of Tasmania’s largest copper stills. The Estate’s tasting room, located inside the 1846 granary building, is a cosy spot to sample their Poltergeist Gin and Mackey Whisky and enjoy a local tasting platter by the warmth of an original sandstone fireplace.
Experimentation is not an uncommon origin story among craft gin distillers. Alex Sinclair of Sinclair Distillery came to create his small-batch Urban Gin during the two years his whisky was busy maturing. Australian botanicals like kaffir lime, lemon myrtle, jasmine buds and cubeb berries are sourced as locally as possible to infuse the gins like Flowers and The Rocks with unique flavours. Two words Alex always returns to when describing the crafting of Urban Gin: science and art.
Old Young’s is all about bringing the traditional art of distilling together with new techniques and gin flavours. James Young took over the former Wild Swan distillery in 2015 and transformed it into Old Young’s. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, he responded by launching a craft gin club, the Juniper Society — members get a brand-new gin of the month for $59.
“During these darkest days of the pandemic, we decided to double down and make more gin. New gins. Weird gins. All the gins,” he says. One of the new products is Six Seasons Gin, which is an homage to our Indigenous heritage. This herbal, savoury spirit features the six seasons of the Noongar people of the Swan Valley with the inclusion of six Australian botanicals.
When hospitality veterans Darren Barber and Samuel Kennis swapped Sydney for Cairns in 2016, to reinvent the local bar scene, they didn’t know they’d also be launching Australia’s first tropical-style gin. Wolf Lane Distillery was born just a few years later, in a historic former horse stable located right next to their Three Wolves bar. To make the Wolf Lane’s Tropical Gin, dried botanicals like juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, macadamia, Tasmanian pepperberry, cardamom, cinnamon and lemon myrtle are steeped in neutral grain spirit for 24 hours. Then, fresh fruits like finger lime, ruby grapefruit and mango are added on the day of distillation — they are the first to use mango in the distillation process — to yield unique gin flavours. You’ll also taste lavender and mint, which are vapour-infused to add tropical notes to the gin.
Proximity to the coast has always been important to Manly Spirits founders Vanessa Wilton and David Whittaker. Their distillery’s location on Sydney’s Northern Beaches places them within reach of some of the area’s best beaches where they forage for botanicals to flavour their award-winning handcrafted gin.
“We use sea lettuce from Curl Curl, sea parsley from headlands up and down the Northern Beaches, and there’s foraged pig’s face and nasturtium. All our products have something that grows locally,” says David. Just take the bright and bold Lilly Pilly Pink Gin, made from the native flowers. The recipes are perfected through a long process of distilling botanicals, blending and balancing flavours, resulting in utterly unique gins making serious waves around the world.