From botanical-infused gin to oak-aged rum, get a taste of Australian spirits at some of the country’s best distilleries.
By Leah Dobihal
Australia has produced top-notch rum, gin and whisky for decades, but in recent years the spirits scene has begun to boom. You’ll find everything from the traditional to the modern in distilleries dotted around the country. Swirl a single malt whisky in Tasmania or try a juniper and cinnamon gin in Adelaide. Whatever your tastes, you’re sure to sip on something one-of-a-kind.
Whipper Snapper Distillery
Whipper Snapper may have started with just a dream and an old shed, but this distillery has grown to be one of Perth’s best. Whipper Snapper’s whiskies are handcrafted, innovative and produced with 100 per cent local grains. Not only can you visit the tasting room, but you can also indulge in private whisky experiences and masterclasses. If you’d rather sit back and relax, just head to the on-site Whisky & Coffee Bar.
Margaret River Distilling Company
As the sister distillery to the Great Southern Distilling Company, the Margaret River Distilling Company had a lot to prove when it opened in 2015. Located in the beautiful Margaret River region just three hours from Perth, the Margaret River Distilling Company has established itself as a top contender, offering a full range of bespoke spirits. It’s also home to Australia’s only Giniversity, where visitors can learn to distil and blend their own gin.
The oldest continuously operating distillery in Western Australia is also one of its most remote. Located in Kununurra in the Kimberley region, Hoochery offers no-fuss Australian spirits within stunning surrounds. Head to Hoochery to taste their range of rum made with sugar cane grown right outside.
Kangaroo Island Spirits
Kangaroo Island is known for its abundant wildlife and incredible seafood, but it’s also home to one of the state’s best distilleries. Kangaroo Island Spirits creates small-batch, handcrafted Australian gin, vodka and liqueurs. Stop by the rustic cellar door or the tranquil Gin Garden to taste the award-winning spirits with a side of island hospitality.
Applewood Distillery, located in the picturesque Adelaide Hills, is a distillery with a difference. Applewood describes their range of spirits as ‘hyper-creative,’ embracing local ingredients to create gin and liqueur that’s anything but ordinary. Don’t miss the Okar, an Australian take on an Italian liqueur that’s infused with rare native riberries and strawberry gum leaf.
Tamborine Mountain Distillery
Set atop a mountain overlooking the Gold Coast hinterland, Tamborine Mountain Distillery serves up boutique spirits made with native ingredients and flora. Here, you’ll find everything from apricot schnapps to eucalyptus gum leaf vodka. Try and sampling of the massive range in their tasting room, where you’ll treat your taste buds to a memorable journey.
A Queensland establishment, Bundaberg Rum has a rich history dating back to 1888. Located about four hours from Brisbane, in the town of Bundaberg, this distillery creates rum known all around the world. Using locally-sourced ingredients, Bundaberg creates bold rum that you can sip and savour on-site. True rum-lovers can even become a distiller for a day with a blend your own rum experience.
In recent years, Sydney has become a hotspot for urban distilling. Located in the suburb of Rosebery, Archie Rose is the most-awarded distillery in the country. Head to the bar to taste the full range of gin, whisky and vodka as well as unreleased bottles. Alternatively, indulge in a blend your own gin experience. You’ll learn how to mix spirits and tailor your blend to your tastes, and you’ll even leave with two bottles of your signature gin.
Poor Toms Gin Hall
At Poor Toms Gin Hall, located in Sydney’s Marrickville neighbourhood, you can take a seat at the pared-back boutique bar to try some of Sydney’s most unconventional gin. Try the menu of house gins on their own, mixed in a cocktail or shaken in a martini. You won’t be disappointed by selection, including tantalising twists of strawberry, fresh green apple and chamomile. For a beachy vibe, head over the bridge to Manly to discover the perfect blend of carefree surf life and urban sophistication – in a bottle. At Manly Spirits Co. the team create Australian gins, botanical vodkas and whiskies that are inspired by the surrounding marine environment.
Black Gate Distillery
In central New South Wales, you’ll find a distillery that likes to keep it simple. Located about five hours from Sydney by car, Black Gate Distillery produces their single malt whisky, dark rum and quandong liqueur using traditional methods and top-quality ingredients. Find more of New South Wales' best distilleries.
Big River Distillery
Artisan spirits and innovative technique and make Big River Distillery a favourite for Canberra locals. Their vision is to break from tradition using quality botanicals - 14 of them - from Australia and afar. Visit for a tour or a tasting - either one will leave you with a newfound appreciation for spirits made from the clean water and crisp air of Canberra.
Four Pillars Distillery
Located in the beautiful Yarra Valley, Four Pillars Distillery began with the goal of creating a gin that represented modern Australia. They’ve reached that goal with their much-loved Rare Dry Gin, but they didn’t stop there. You’ll find distinct drops like Spiced Negroni Gin and Bloody Shiraz Gin on the menu, showcasing a different side of Australian spirits. Stop by the distillery door for a taste.
Bass & Flinders
Bass & Flinders was the first distillery founded on the stunning Mornington Peninsula, just over a one-hour drive from Melbourne. Surrounded by the sweeping vineyards of the region, Bass & Flinders sticks to what it knows: grapes. This artisan producer has a vine-to-bottle approach, handcrafting their spirit base from the fruit just outside their door. The dedication to local grapes is what gives such a unique flavour to the brandy, gin and liqueurs on offer. Book your spot at the Gin Masterclass to blend a bottle entirely your own.
One of Tasmania’s best distilleries lies right in the heart of Hobart. Lark Distillery was founded in 1992 after its owner realised that Tasmania had all the ingredients for beautiful malt whisky, yet no one seemed to be producing it. Lark has grown to be one of the top distillers in the country, creating premium spirits with time-honoured methods. At the cellar door, over 150 malt whiskies are on offer.
Just a 30-minute drive outside of Hobart, you’ll find the family owned and operated Nonesuch Distillery. The cellar door may be small, but it releases some of Tasmania’s best handcrafted gin and whisky. Stop by for a taste of the entire range, including the incredibly innovative Hemp Gin, perfected over dozens of distillations.
Located in the rugged wilderness of the Tasman Peninsula, McHenry Distillery is Australia’s southernmost whisky distillery. Here, you’ll find some of the world’s purest air. The crisp air combined with the property’s fresh water spring produces a range of smooth, uniquely Australian spirits. You can visit the cellar door seven days a week for a taste of their pure Tasmanian gin and whisky. Don’t miss the Sloe Gin, crafted using berries foraged from the hedgerows around northern Tasmania.
Be sure to head down to Tassie in August for Tasmanian Whisky Week to get your chance to sample all the exciting things being created by distilleries across the island state.