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Saturday 28 August 2021

Take a gin-soaked tour around NSW

Calling tattooed, bearded, dreadlocked craft spirit hipsters - and anyone who enjoys a quiet G+T after work. 

September 1 is apparently designated Australian Craft Gin Day (every product in Australia now has its own designated day, apparently, apart from Anusol). 

Those funky folk at Destination NSW have released a gin lover's itinerary, taking in 12 of the homegrown, award-winning distillers in the state. 

Strap yourself in, grab some tonic and a few slices of fresh lemon and get to know distillers from Sydney to Byron Bay, Wollongong to the Riverina, and even Lord Howe Island.

Discover the spirits of Sydney 

Founded in 2014, Archie Rose Distilling Co. in industrial Rosebery, just north of Sydney Airport, is Australia's most highly-awarded distillery. It produces a range of whiskies, gins, vodkas and rums, and the odd experimental tipple, such as a brandy made from smoke-tainted grapes. Enjoy cocktails at the bar and book in for a distillery tour or blend-your-own-gin class.  

In Sydney's inner Eastern Suburbs, Brix Distillers uses only premium ingredients to create a variety of unique rums. Book in for a tour, rum spicing class or perhaps a Saturday cocktail lunch in its Surry Hills distillery.  

Go north for a nip or two 

Independently owned by herbalist/distiller Philip Moore, Distillery Botanica in Erina on the Central Coast, a short drive north of Sydney (depending on the traffic), grows its own botanicals on-site and incorporates them in award-winning spirits, including Moore's Dry Gin and Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur. Visitors can taste the range, then take a stroll in the distillery's charming garden. 

In the Byron Bay hinterland, Cape Byron Distillery is the home of Brookie's Gin and a favourite of this columnist. It's a spirit made with a variety of botanicals, including those found in the distillery's rainforest setting. Learn more about the rainforest connection on the distillery's tour, which includes, of course, a tasting.  

A family-owned and -operated distillery pioneering paddock-to-bottle virgin cane rum, Husk Distillers at Tumbulgum on the Far North Coast is famous for its indigo-coloured Ink Gin. Drop into the cellar door, which opened in 2019, for a tour or a cocktail on the lawn, which boasts superb views towards Wollumbin (Mount Warning).  

Sip your way south 

With a collective goal to produce handcrafted spirits, four friends founded Wollongong's first distillery in 2015. A Headlands Distilling Co. They produce three different gins in distinctive bottles, including one flavoured with local Illawarra plums.  Sample it on one of the free tours held on Fridays and Sundays.  

As the name suggests, the multi award-winning North of Eden micro distillery is located on a working farm in Stony Creek, a 50-minute drive north of Eden on the far South Coast. All its London dry-style gins are made in 200-bottle batches and feature ingredients grown on the farm or foraged locally. Most of its bar/cellar door seating is outdoors. 

Head west for a tipple 

Founded in 2018, Parrot Distilling Co.'s extensive range of gins pay homage to the fruit and wine that the Orange region, a 3.5-hour drive west of Sydney, is renowned for. Opened in 2020, The Aviary, its cellar door and bar, is the ideal spot to sample them.  

Just 45 minutes east of Orange, Stone Pine Distillery is Bathurst's first micro distillery. Set in a  homestead dating back to the 1840s, the eco-conscious distillery's cellar door is an atmospheric spot to sample its gins, spiced rums, limoncello, and more.  

Take a packed lunch 

Situated between Jindabyne and Thredbo, Wild Brumby Distillery is the highest distillery in Australia and uses alpine water, organically grown fruit and native mountain botanicals for its schnapps, gin, vodka and gluhwein. Its distillery door also doubles as a cafĂ©.  

Born out of co-owner Mark Burns' quest to connect with his Scottish heritage, Aisling Distillery in Griffith in the Riverina specialises in small batch premium single-malt whisky, rum and gin.   

And on Lord Howe Island, a two-hour flight from Sydney, Lord Howe Island Distilling Co. creates award-winning spirits that use both wild and endemic island botanicals such as wild lemons planted by early settlers. It doesn't have a distillery door (yet) but its Wild Lemon and Hibiscus Gin can be found at various outlets around Lord Howe. 

For more details see 

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