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Six Game-Changing Victorian Distilleries You May Not Have Heard Of (Yet)

By Kayla Larson
October 17, 2018
By Kayla Larson
October 17, 2018


They say when one bottle opens, another glass leaves the nest. It may not be a reliable adage, but it is something we take to heart when testing Victoria's top distilleries. And to our heart, these distilleries have quickly gone.

From the outer suburbs to our regional brethren, we've sipped and nattered our way around the state to find some of the best lesser-known distillers this slice of Down Under. Each of these distilleries have a fine narrative behind them, giving more spirit to their stories than just the liquid itself. Whether navy strength or native botanical-infused, we've selected some of our favourite creators who have been making a an under-the-radar mark on Australia's bar and cocktail cabinet scene.

The best part? They all have bars or cellar doors, so you can meet the distillers and drink the spirits in the same spot that they came to life.

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    When the Animus team started out, it was waiting for its barrel-aged whisky to mature — but the four lads didn’t sit idly around, twiddling thumbs and rolling each other across the plains in Kilmore. Instead, they decided to use their time wisely to create a gin. Or, as currently is the case, four vapour-pressed sorts. The Davidsonia Gin is its take on England’s traditional sloe gin, but with a distinctly Australian flavour. Using native Davidsonia Pruriens — a tropical sour plum from the temperate regions of northern NSW and Queensland — the distillery has steeped the plums in their award winning dry gin to create an intense and unique character.

    The best part is that the distillery also operates as a cocktail bar on Kyneton’s main drag. It’s open every night except Mondays and Tuesdays — and it’s only an hour away from the city on the V/Line.

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    Loch Brewery & Distillery

    When it’s wombat spying season, there’s no better place to see the little bundles than down Wilsons Prom way. A perfect detour for quenching the native thirst is a stop at Loch, a wee town of under 700 people in South Gippsland with its own distillery and brewery. The boozy establishment creates ales, single malt whisky and a few gins. The cellar door opens during weekends. But somebody has to drive, so take home The Weaver, a big gin that martini lovers will appreciate for its savoury finish. Think cinnamon myrtle, anise myrtle and wattle seed – the native botanicals are locally sourced and sustainably harvested.

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    Fossey's Ginporium & Distillery

    Replacing traditional gin ingredients with homegrown delights such as Australian lemon myrtle, pepperberry, lavender and cassia, the Fossey’s team can be found hand-foraging and hand-bottling its gins in Mildura, the largest settlement in the Sunraysia region (aka the land of grapes and oranges). Fossey’s Navel Strength Gin Elixir won awards at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards this year; it’s a drop that’s packed full of juniper berries, ginger and — you guessed it — citrus. It has four times the amount of citrus than the distillery’s regular gin: a nod to how historically, navy sailors would sip, squeeze and scrounge for oranges to keep scurvy at bay. Mark this one down on your ‘someday’ map — you might be somewhere near Mildura at some point, and the bar would make a welcome pitstop. Otherwise, you can order a bottle online for $75.

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    Kilderkin Distillery - CLOSED

    Trivia lovers, gather, for here lies a feather of knowledge to add to your cap: Ballarat be the town that was home to Victoria’s first-ever distillery. Although the OG gin and whisky distillery has long since retired, Kilderkin has risen in its history-making place. The distillery is co-homed at Red Duck Brewery (which makes the wash for the Kilderkin whisky). It’s named after an old-English barrel size (18 empirical gallons in size for those of you playing at home), which allows the whisky to age faster than its international counterparts due to its smaller barrel size. By 2019, the crew hope to have matured their first whisky — but for now, gins are on offer. Snag a Scoundrel Gin: notes of juniper and coriander, and accents of fresh citrus are balanced with grains of paradise, cinnamon verum, and green and brown cardamom. The bar is open seven days a week alongside Red Duck.

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    Bakery Hill Distillery

    These cats are the oldest and most established single malt distillery in Australia (well, as well as the mainland’s concerned). Its drops are so good they’ve been exported from their central highlands base in Ballarat to France, Germany, Sweden and the UK. But unfortunately (for those overseas, that is), local demand has meant exports have been reduced to supply only the local market. And what lucky ducks we are. Our current favourite is the peated malt whisky: complex tobacco smokiness intermingles with toffee and honeycomb. A definite gold rush from beginning to end. If you want to visit the North Bayswater distillery, you’ll have to book a tour. At the moment, they run every second Saturday and cost $55, which includes a tasting at the end.

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    Hurdle Creek Still

    Hurdle Creek is typically known for its gins, such as the Powder Monkey Navy Strength Gin. It’s a distinctive rye character crafted from triticale, malt and barley, and loaded with locally sourced botanicals, including pink peppercorns, cinnamon and eucalyptus leaves picked from the ribbon gum outside their Milawa-based stillhouse. But we’d predict most bougie dinner party guests would welcome its local take on the iconic French aniseed aperitif, pastis. Traditionally made with the root of liquorice, star anise and oh-la-la botanicals, Hurdle Creek has adapted the classic spirit starting with its own grain spirit, and have given it a true Australian character with the addition of native aniseed myrtle and mintbush. The cellar door is open on the Milawa property every day except Wednesday.

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