11 of the coolest places to drink gin in Victoria

Row of gin cocktails

Richard Cornish & Tianna Nadalin

Posted December 29, 2019

How to gin-gle all the way around Victoria’s boutique distilleries.

Move over pub crawls and wine weekends; distillery hopping is the latest tourism trend to take flight in Victoria. And liquor artisans are really getting into the Aussie spirit. The last decade has seen a spate of small-batch gin brewers pouring onto the state’s craft gin scene, with everything from boutique inner-city stills to uber-cool regional distillery doors catering to increasingly thirsty juniper seekers.

As well as being the self-proclaimed craft gin capital of the country, Victoria can also claim to be the home of the world's best, with Four Pillars Gin being crowned the 2019 International Gin Producer of the Year at the 50th Annual Wine and Spirits Competition in London.

To celebrate, we've put together a guide to 11 of the best boutique distilleries in Victoria. Here’s how to sip your way through the state's burgeoning gin-soaked backyard.

Gin paddle at Four Pillars

11 of Victoria’s coolest gin distilleries

1. Brogan’s Way

In the back streets of Richmond among breweries, bakeries and coffee roasters is Melbourne’s newest distillery. Opening up in a former garage last October, daughter and father team Brogan and Simon Carr make a strong (57.2 per cent alcohol) Royal Blood Gin, Evening Light Gin and Everyday Salvation Gin. The latter is infused with mountain pepper berry, roasted wattleseed, strawberry gum, rose and lavender for a drink that reveals all its botanicals yet is enjoyably the sum of its parts. The bar, with its speakeasy feel and theatrically lit still, is open for tastings and cocktails Wednesdays to Sundays, with tours every second weekend.

61 North Street, Richmond

2. Bass & Flinders Distillery

Past the grazing emus and kangaroos at the foot of Arthurs Seat is Bass & Flinders Distillery. This Mornington Peninsula spirit maker was one of Victoria’s first small distillers, starting with brandy in 2009. Visitors come to this state-of-the-art facility to try the pink-hued Cerise Gin, which derives its colour from hibiscus rosella, cherries and raspberries. The Angry Ant Gin is made with native gravel ants from Western Australia. Join their excellent Gin Masterclass for a chance to blend spirits infused with single botanicals to create your very own gin.

40 Collins Road, Dromana

3. Loch Brewery and Distillery

Loch is a beautiful little town with a handful of cafes and is a short drive to wineries and the award-winning Prom Country Cheese. The cellar door inside the historic former bank carries the aroma of juniper as it soaks in the spirit inside the still. Inspired by the small distilleries of Islay off the coast of Scotland, distiller Craig Johnson started making single-malt whiskies but now makes impressive gin. Come here to taste beer and whisky, but be sure to try his gin liqueur, intended to be enjoyed neat. With just 32 per cent alcohol, the flavours of juniper, cinnamon, cardamom, angelica, licorice root, orange and ginger shine through.

44 Victoria Road, Loch

4. Four Pillars Gin

If you want to mix yourself a gin and tonic with the world's best, this is the place to do it. Four Pillars Gin, which was crowned the world's best at the 50th Annual Wine and Spirits Competition in London, completes the gastronomic picture in pretty Healesville, with its tree-lined streets, great pub, excellent cafes, cheese shop and small cellar doors. Standing at the tasting tables in this distillery, you overlook four stills named after the founders’ mothers. In front of you are glasses filled with botanicals. Sniff and try to name the leaves, seeds, bark and roots – gum leaf, cinnamon, juniper – then taste the gin and work out which botanicals are used. With tastings, cocktails and snacks, this is a great place to learn about gin and how it is made. Plus, RACV members receive a free gift with every bottle of gin purchased at the distillery door.

2a Lilydale Road, Healesville

Reed Co Distillery inside

5. Alchemy Healesville

Why not make it a double and, after checking out Four Pillars HQ, head over to Alchemy Distillers, where you can taste-test a selection of house-brewed spirits, including their gold medal-winning chamomile gin, which has delicate notes of chamomile, cardamom, cassia and rosemary. The southern American food stylings of Hominy Kitchen also go down a treat. Don’t miss their sweet potato doughnuts drizzled in bourbon caramel.

242 Maroondah Highway, Healesville

6. Animus

If sinking into a chesterfield lounge and kicking back with an espresso gintini or sloe gin sour sounds like your idea of a weekend well spent, then this cellar door-come-cocktail lounge is the place to do it. Animus was born in 2015, when friends and gintrepreneurs – Luke Jacques, Joel Wilson, Rob Turner and Aaron Robinson – started brewing small-batch spirits in their Fitzroy North garage. Having outgrown its urban roots, Animus now calls Kyneton’s flourishing Piper Street food scene home. Stop in for a gin flight and a platter of Goldfields farmhouse cheeses.

1/89A Piper Street, Kyneton

7. Little Lon

City slickers have embraced Melbourne’s unabashedly brilliant house of gin-soaked worship, Little Lon. The gin-timate den took up residence last year in the last remaining single-storey house in Melbourne’s bustling CBD. Here, surrounded by skyscrapers and cobblestone alleys, brothers Brad and Jared Wilson are distilling delectable juniper drops inspired by and in celebration of the precinct’s boozy, debauchery-filled past. Behind the heritage-listed, red-brick facade is a cosy cantina where you can sit back with a cocktail or classic G&T knowing you’re continuing Melbourne’s time-honoured tradition of unabated gin-joyment.

17 Casselden Place (entry via rear gate in Gorman Alley)

8. Kilderkin Distillery

It’s been decades between drinks for locals in Ballarat so, when Kilderkin Distillery opened the doors to its Alfredton outfit in 2016, it was a cheers-ful occasion. Kilderkin is the first distillery to open in the area since the 1930s, after Warrenheip Distillery – one of the first in Victoria – called last drinks. Their distillery door is co-located with Red Duck Brewery and, if you’ve ever wanted to become more spiritually enlightened, guided distillery tours are available for small groups.

11A Michaels Drive, Alfredton, Ballarat

Gin cocktail with straw

9. The Whiskery

When it comes to gin, Bellarine Distillery’s botanical brews really are the cat’s whiskers. And the Drysdale-based cellar door, The Whiskery, which is pouring house label Teddy & The Fox, has locals purring with gin-thusiasm. Established in 2015, and housed in a rustic, converted shed on seven acres of lush farmland, the distillery, cellar door and cafe is an exciting addition to the Geelong region’s impressive food and drink scene.

1 Scotchmans Road, Bellarine

10. Reed and Co

Bright’s Hamish Nugent and Rachel Reed were chefs before they turned to distilling a few years back. They found a large, bright space which they share with the excellent coffee roaster Sixpence Coffee. Hamish uses dozens of botanicals melding the aromas of the bush – mountain pepper, lemon myrtle and lemon scented gum – with the garden perfumes of lemon verbena. These are distilled with juniper and diluted to 42 per cent with pure mountain spring water to make Remedy Gin. Come also for great food cooked over the coals at night or buy a bottle to enjoy in the nearby snowfields.

15 Wills Street, Bright

11. Tiny Bear Distillery

Gin lovers in Melbourne's south east, listen up: we’re going on a bear hunt. This is exactly what the husband-and-wife duo behind Tiny Bear Distillery, high-school chemistry teacher Damien Anderson and his wife, Amanda, did when they decided to ditch the Great Australian Dream and build a new, gin-infused one. Fast forward three years and their micro-distillery in the suburbs is slinging seriously small batch gins and cold-brewed coffee liqueur.

7/10 Henderson Road, Knoxfield

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