Big Tree and Animus Distillery Tour

Big Tree & Animus Distillery Tour

All aboard the Gin Bus! Join me as we visit two different distilleries, taste their gins and meet the people who make them, enjoy a delicious lunch and finish our tour at Bad Frankie, Australia’s first bar to focus solely on Australian spirits.


Big Tree Distillery

One of Victoria’s newest distilleries, Big Tree Distillery is the culmination of a tree change by Gary and Catherine. A stone’s throw from Hanging Rock, Big Tree is set in a beautiful location. They have three gins in their range and we will be trying them all!


Animus Distillery

About 20 minutes from Big Tree, Animus is an award-winning distillery set in thriving Kyneton. Here we’ll have lunch before enjoying a guided tasting of their gin range.

Itinerary for Big Tree & Animus Distillery Tour

All aboard the Gin Bus! Join me as we visit two different distilleries, taste their gins and meet the people who make them, enjoy a delicious lunch and finish our tour at Bad Frankie, Australia’s first bar to focus solely on Australian spirits.

10.00am meet at Federation Square (outside ACMI)

11.30 arrive at Big Tree Distillery for a tour and tasting

1pm depart Big Tree Distillery

1.15pm Arrive at Animus for lunch and tasting

3.30pm Depart Animus

4.45pm Arrive at Bad Frankie bar, Fitzroy for a final gin cocktail

5.00pm tour concludes

What’s included

– Transport from Federation Square to each distillery and then to Bad Frankie in Fitzroy where the tour concludes

– Welcome drinks at Big Tree and Animus Distilleries

– All tasters

– Lunch at Animus Distillery (Limited dietary requirements e.g. GF, Vegan and Veg available)

– Cocktail at Bad Frankie bar

Tickets are $149.99 per person. Book your tickets here

2018 IWSC results for Australian gin

We’ve already celebrated our Australian gins’ success at the San Francisco World Spirits awards and the Spirit Business Spirits Masters, but now we turn out attention to the results of the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC), which were announced this week.

The IWSC is the oldest of the spirits competitions, and highly regarded due to its strict judging and testing of all the spirits entered. For Australian distillers to win a medal on gin’s home soil, makes it all the more special!

You’ll see that gins are judged by strength and style (contemporary or London Dry) as well as how it performs in a Gin and Tonic (VERY important!)

Last year,  Philip Moore became the first Australian distiller to claim a Gold medal for his eponymous dry gin. The 2018 IWSC results for Australian gins are outstanding, with 4 gins receiving gold medals and the total medal haul jumping from 23 medals to 44! Some of newest additions to the Australian gin category won medals, barely a few months after launching.

Congratulations one and all!

2018 IWSC results for Australian gin



2018 IWSC results for Australian gin

Poor Toms Fool Strength category London Dry – 48-52%

2018 IWSC results for Australian gin

Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 52-58%

2018 IWSC results for Australian gin

KIS Old Tom category Old Tom – Wood Aged – 42-46%

2018 IWSC results for Australian gin

Kalki Moon “Classic Gin” category London Dry – 37-38%

SILVER (outstanding)


Four Pillars Gin 2018 IWSC results for Australian gin

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin category in Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

kangeroo-island-spirits-wild-gin 2018 IWSC results for Australian gin

KIS Wild Gin category Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Original Bushcrafted Dry category Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Apothecary category  Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Mount Uncle Botanic Australis Bushfire Smoked Gin category Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 45-48%+

Dasher + Fisher Sloe Gin category  Sloe Gin – 26-40%


Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Manly Spirits Australian Dry Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Manly Spirits Australian Dry Gin category Gin & Tonic

Dasher + Fisher Meadow Gin category Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 45-48%+

Dasher + Fisher Meadow Gin category Gin & Tonic

Dasher + Fisher Mountain Gin category Gin & Tonic

Dasher + Fisher Ocean Gin category Gin & Tonic

Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin category Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 52-58%

Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin category Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Seppeltsfield Road Distillers House Gin category Gin – Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Never Never Juniper Freak Gin category Gin & Tonic

Kalki Moon “Premium Gin” category London Dry – 42%+

Manly Spirits Coastal Citrus Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Manly Spirits Coastal Citrus Gin category Gin & Tonic

Moore’s Distillers Cut Juniper Gin category London Dry – 45%+

Moore’s Distillers Cut Juniper Gin category Gin & Tonic

Poor Toms Sydney Dry category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Never Never Southern Strength Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 52-68%

Never Never Triple Juniper Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 43%

Never Never Triple Juniper Gin category Gin & Tonic

Underground Spirits Signature Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+


Seppeltsfield Road Distillers Barossa Dry Gin category London Dry – 41%+

Mount Uncle Botanic Australis Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Dasher + Fisher Mountain Gin category London Dry – 45%+

High Spirits Distillery Dry Gin category London Dry – 42%

Hunter Distillery Aged Gin category Wood Aged – 48-52%

Never Never Juniper Freak Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 52-68%

Kalki Moon “Solstice Barrel Aged Gin” category Wood Aged – 44-45%

KIS Whisky Barrel Gin category Cask Finish – 40-46%

Original Classic Dry category London Dry – 40%+

Stone Pine Dry Gin category  Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

The Splendid Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

The Story Gin category Contemporary Styles – Australia – 40-43%+

Underground Spirits Signature Gin category Gin & Tonic

World Gin Day 2017 competition

Spirits Business Gin Masters 2018

Spirit competitions are many and varied, particularly in the gin arena, where distillers battle it out in an ever more saturated category. Whatever your views are on the merits of competitions, they are a welcome pat on the back for hardworking distillers, keen to see how their products stack up against other gins.

The Spirits Business Gin Masters 2018 revealed its results overnight and Australian distillers have done us proud. The results are particularly thrilling when you learn that the medal tally has quadrupled in the last 5 years, with quality becoming ever more important.

The gins were segmented into different sectors according to price and style, then blind-tasted by a panel of experts. Here are the Aussie medallists! For the full list of winners, head here.

Ultra Premium

Spirits Business Gin Masters 2018

The Melbourne Gin Company Single Shot gin ~ Master. Praised for  “its excellent botanical recipe” and “good length”.

Melbourne Gin Company Dry Gin

The Melbourne Gin Company Dry Gin ~ Gold

Super Premium

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin ~ Silver



Four Pillars Spiced Negroni ~ Master. Praise from the judges : This is exactly the type of product I expect to get when the best distillers challenge what gin can be.”

Kangaroo Island Wild Gin ~ Silver

Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin ~ Silver

Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin ~Silver

Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength ~ Silver

Micro distillery

Never Never Distilling Triple Juniper Gin ~ Gold. Praise from the judges: “juicy, well­-integrated palate

Never Never Distilling Co Southern Strength ~ Silver

Cask Aged

Four Pillars Sherry Cask ~ Gold

Four Pillars Chardonnay Barrel Gin ~ Silver

Navy Strength


Four Pillars Navy Strength ~ Master. Praise from the judges: “a masterclass in distilling 

Flavoured Gin

Brookie’s Slow Gin ~ Silver

Kangaroo Island Spirits Old Tom Gin ~ Silver


Congratulations to all the distillers for their awards and raising the profile of our thriving industry on the global stage.

30 Martinis for you to try!

The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.” Bernard DeVoto

Happy World Martini Day! For me, martinis are hard to beat, however I hear from many of you that martinis are too strong or overpowering to become a regular in your gin cocktail repertoire.

There are so many different ways to try them, so I firmly believe there is a martini out there for everyone!

So here are 30 martinis you must try!

Millionaire’s Martini

Millionaire's Martini

Champagne and gin? What’s not to love? Full recipe here.

Sloe Gin Martini

Sloe Gin Martini

Sloe gin isn’t just for sipping over ice! Full recipe here.

Fifty-Fifty Martini

fifty-fifty martini

Equal parts vermouth and gin, this is a perfect martini for the beginner! Full recipe here.

Boomerang Martini

Boomerang martini

A popular drink from the 30’s and 40’s. Full recipe here.

Vesper martini

007’s creation (we won’t talk about his preference for vodka martinis…). Full recipe here.

Arnaud Martini

Arnaud martini

Named after the pre-war French singer, Yvonne Arnaud. Full recipe here

Burnt Martini

A little something for the whisky lovers. Full recipe here.

Spanish Martini


Spanish martini

Gin and sherry? Si Si! Full recipe here.

Can Can Martini

Can-can martini

A French flavour to this martini! Full recipe here.

Sweet Martini

Sweet Martini

Not all martinis need to be dry! Full recipe here.

Perfect Martini

All martinis are perfection. This one even more so! Full recipe here.

Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini

The dirtier the better. Full recipe here

Reverse Martini

Can’t handle them dry? Then go for a reverse or ‘wet’ martini. Full recipe here

Dry Martini


My personal favourite. Full recipe here.

Earl Grey Gin Martini

More like a Mar-tea-ni. Full recipe here.

Breakfast Martini

Gin for breakfast? Why not. Full recipe here.


Jinzu gin saketini

Sake and gin go together so well! Full recipe here.


Gibson martini 58 gin

The garnish is a bonus! Full recipe here.



Ranked number three in “The World’s 10 Most Famous Cocktails in 1934”! Full recipe here

The Third Degree

Third degree

Take your pick from a third or fourth (!) degree. Full recipe here.

The Puritan


A late 19th Century cocktail. Full recipe here.

Hanky Panky

Ada Coleman’s classic! Full recipe here.

Rolls Royce


The Savoy Cocktail book strikes again! Full recipe here.

Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects

A beautiful cocktail that Jim Meehan created for his bar PDT in New York. Full recipe here.



An Old Tom gin based martini. Full recipe here.

Spring Forward

Spring Forward

Sasha Petraske’s riff on a Gibson. Full recipe here.


Marguerite Cocktail

A precursor to the dry martini. Full recipe here.


A Martinez, enjoyed at the Lui Bar, Melbourne

A delightful blend of gin, vermouth and maraschino liqueur. Full recipe here.



A classic from the Savoy Cocktail book. Full recipe here.


Don’t be scared of the absinthe, it’s delicious in this cocktail! Full recipe here.

Which one is your favourite?

If you are interested in the history of the martini, grab yourself a copy of Jared Brown’s book ‘Shaken Not Stirred, A celebration of the martini’

World Gin Day 2018 Distillers Dinner

Join me for a special Distillers Dinner at Arc One Gallery, with food by Cumulus Inc. featuring five of Australia’s leading distillers.

Joining us will be; Cameron Mackenzie – Four Pillars Gin, Dr. Dervilla McGowan – Anther Spirits, Nicole Durdin – Seppeltsfield Road Distillers, Myffanwy Kernke – Shene Estate & Distillery and Tim Boast – Never Never Distillery.

They will each share their stories and introduce their gins before we enjoy it neat and in a cocktail matched with a delicious dish by Cumulus Inc., all in the beautiful surrounds of Arc One Gallery


Tickets are $155 and include 5 dishes, 5 gins and 5 cocktails.

Limited dietary requirements available.

Book now to avoid disappointment!

With thanks to our sponsors:

WIN 2 two tickets to the Anther gin/Taxi Kitchen World Gin Day Botanical High Tea

Haven’t made plans for World Gin Day yet? Don’t worry, I’ve got a couple of tickets for the Anther/Taxi Kitchen World Gin Day Botanical High Tea on Saturday 9th June for you to win!

Anther gin won the Champion Gin award at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards earlier this year. Their famous Cherry gin has recently been joined by ‘Habitat’, a gin made using botanicals grown in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

Taxi Kitchen focusses on sustainable, locally sourced produce, with Executive Chef Tony Twitchett delivering contemporary Australian cuisine with a hint of Asian influence.

Taxi Kitchen & Anther Gin take you on a botanical journey through 5 continents over a 5 course lunch matched with 5 gin cocktails.

Anther gin/Taxi Kitchen World Gin Day Botanical High Tea (Saturday 9th June, 1-4pm), Federation Square Level 1, Melbourne1 pm – 4pm



  • Entrants with the correct answer will be drawn at random on Wednesday 6th June
  • The winner will be notified via email on Thursday 7th June
  • Tickets cannot be exchanged for cash. If you are unable to attend, another winner will be drawn.
  • Open to over 18s only

World Gin Day 2018

With only 6 SLEEPS to go! Have you decided how to spend World Gin Day 2018? I’ve done a little round-up of some of the best gin-filled activities of you to enjoy!



Battle of the Regions!

The bar will be pitting some of Victoria’s best Gin regions against each other…

It’s YarraValley vs. MorningtonPeninsula vs. Melbourne vs. Mildura!

Rock up, try the four gins, select your favourite, and then vote! The overall winner will be crowned on Sunday!

Featuring four Victorian gins: Alchemy Distillers, Balcombe Gin, Patient Wolf Gin  and Fossey’s Gin

No booking required

World Gin Day Botanical High Tea

1-4pm Taxi Kitchen, Melbourne

Taxi Kitchen & Anther Gin take you on a botanical journey through 5 continents over a 5 course lunch matched with 5 gin cocktails.

$95 per person.

Stayed glued to my social media feed tomorrow for a chance to win tickets!

Book by emailing or call 03 9923 2065

Henry Sugar

High Tea Lunch

Three courses of twists on high tea and English classics, including sweet and savoury pastries, baked treats and other delectable morsels, all paired with gin and tea based cocktails. The cocktails will feature a handful of newly released gins, including the ever popular Bloody Shiraz gin from Four pillars, New World Projects’ (known for Starward whisky) Winter gin, and freshly released Nosferatu blood orange gin, plus Kangaroo Island Spirits ‘O’ gin and Sloe gin from Tasmanian distillers McHenry.


Book here


Surrealist Lunch with Hendrick’s gin.

Cocktails and canapés on arrival are followed by 3 courses with cocktails. Hosted by Hendricks’ Ambassador for Australia, Morgan Flanagan. Includes a special gift for guests!

$115 pp 12.30-3.00pm

Book tickets here

Union Electric

Rumble in the Monkey 47 Jungle

Union Electric Bar & Gin Rooftop in Melbourne’s CBD, we will be hosting a launch party for Monkey 47’s Gin Jungle Takeover!

With delicious Monkey 47 inspired cocktails, plus tastings of the good stuff in the afternoon, the festivities kick off from midday until late.

No booking required!



If I was in Sydney,  I would spend World Gin Day here. With over 600 gins on the back bar, Owner Mikey Enright, and manager David Nguyen-Luu walking encyclopedias when it comes to gin.

At 2-3.30pm there is a 90 minute gin masterclass ~ $50pp. Includes Gin Tonica on arrival, oysters, charcuterie and cheese.

Then from 6pm it’s time to party!The team will be launching their new ‘Gin Tonica’ menu and holding a live auction of limited edition vintage 1970s Plymouth gin. Not to be missed!

Book here.


Long Lunch at Osborne Hotel 12-4pm

Enjoy an intimate long lunch, where you will get to learn and drink bespoke cocktails created exclusively for the event whilst enjoying a four course degustation menu by Head Chef, Ben King.

The event will showcase a variety of gin from all over the world, featuring:
Australian: Four Pillars, Yarra Valley
English: Fords, London
United States: Death’s Door, Wisconsin
Sweden: Hernö, Härnösand


Book tickets here


My favourite bar to drink gin when I’m in town! Hairs & Co will be bracing the mainsail and serving up all manner of local gins. No booking fee, no tickets, just join in the fun.

Howling Owl

Howling Owl will be hosting the mother of all gin activities with Flight Club!

Visit the Welcome  Lounge (free entry) 4pm-LATE
Enjoy the new Howling Owl  International Winter Cocktail Menu and a Happy Hour with 2 for 1 gin specials at 5 PM. The DJ starts the party at 7pm! Plus other fun activities like spin the wheel!

For something a little more refined, head to the Mezzanine Flight Deck:

4 PM – Book a seat in the Never Never Distilling Co. Lounge with Gin Cured Salmon & Gin Oyster Martini Shots for only $35
4 PM – Visit the International Martini Bar or pre-purchase The Euro, The UK or The Americas Pass with 3 Martinis curated till late for $45
6 PM – Enjoy a gin flight with Kangaroo Island Spirits founders Jon & Sarah Lark & sample 5 of their award-winning gins paired with Island Canapé Treats for $55
8 PM – Cruise at high altitude with an indulgent Gin & Chocolate pairing with Chocolatier Captain Steven Ter Horst for $40

Book tickets here


Tapas and Tonic

Held in Iberia’s underground gin lair, Sean Baxter from Never Never and Iberia’s own gin enthusiast, Jimmy R, will guide guests through five gin cocktails highlighting Never Never’s Triple Juniper gin. Iberia head chef, Rush Dougie, will curate the menu, matching each unique cocktail with his own brand of tapas.


Book tickets here.



Four Pillars Gin


The iconic Bloody Shiraz gin has just been released and if you haven’t tried it, you are missing out! Head out to the distillery and enjoy a paddle of Four Pillars gin and bring a bottle or two home!

Reed & Co Distillery, Bright

Rachel and Hamish Nugent have gathered some of their distilling buddies from around Australia for a special Meet the Maker event.

Tickets for each session are $30pp

More information here

Fossey’s gin, Mildura

Laneway festival with food, music and entertainment. Tickets are $50pp. Book here.

New South Wales

Poor Toms Gin School 12pm

Not Sunday School. GIN school.

An insiders guide to Poor Toms magical elixir. Includes a complimentary Poor Toms G&T,  flight of Sydney Dry, Fool Strength and other mystery experiments, a $12 voucher for any bottle purchase


Book ticket here.

Book a Tour to Cape Byron Distillery


A guided tour through the Big Scrub Rainforest, learning the history of this magical place. On return to the distillery you’ll enjoy a  gin tasting and have the opportunity to relax on the verandah overlooking a magnificent view.


Book tickets here.

At the very least this World Gin Day, make an effort to visit a local gin distillery or two. To see if there is one open in your area, have a look at my Australian Distillers Map!

Australian Gin Medal Winners from the San Francisco World Spirits Awards 2018

You’ve probably seen many of our native gins sharing the news of their success at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards. As per the last 2 years, I’ve done a round-up for you, covering all the winners!

This year Australian gins won 5 Double Golds (up from 2 in 2017), 7 Golds (up from 4 in 2017), 21 Silver (up from 11 in 2017) and 15 Bronze (up 8 from 2017). A total of 48 medals (up from 26 in 2017).

The state with the most medals was Victoria (15), New South Wales (13), who just pipped South Australia (12 ), followed by Tasmania (5), Queensland (2) and ACT (1).

I don’t have the final number of gins entered but given the ongoing explosion of gin, I would imagine it has significantly increased from the 268 entries in 2017.

Awards are often disregarded as ‘marketing puff’ that many consumers ignore, so I spoke to a couple of distillers to discuss the impact of winning a medal at San Francisco.

Tim Stones, Manly Spirits (Double Gold) “I’m not massively pro-awards as there are so many about. However, I do see then benefit of using them to benchmark our products against other son the market. Winning a Double Gold is a hugely validating experience and completely vindicated my choice of career change.”

Sales Manager, Rob Sutherland, also reported a bigger uptake of their gininto venues.

Sean Baxter, Never Never Distilling Co. (Gold Medal) “The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the top global comp, the one we all care about. With 43 judges and an extremely high standard, it’s our chance to see how we stack up with the world’s best gins. A gold medal for us means recognition that our gin is up there with the best in the world.”

In addition, Sean told me they were flooded with emails from potential new stockists after the announcement.

Whatever your view on awards it obviously means a lot to the people making the gin and gives them a leg up in a highly competitive market.

Here are the 2018 results in full:

DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2018 (Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges.)

Manly Spirits Gin

Manly Spirits Co Australian Dry Gin (NSW)

San Francisco Results 2018


Archie Rose Distillers Strength (NSW)

Dobson’s New England Dry Gin (NSW)

World Gin Day Competition 2017

Poltergeist Gin (Unfiltered) (TAS)

Single Shot Gin, The Melbourne Gin Company (VIC)

GOLD MEDAL 2018 (an excellent product, meeting very high standards)

Triple Juniper Gin, Never Never Distilling Co. (SA)



Brookie's gin

Brookie’s gin (NSW)

Brookie’s Byron Slow Gin, Cape Byron (NSW)

Roots and Leaves Gin, Distillery Botanica (NSW)

Green Ant Gin

Something Wild Green Ant Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery

Billy Goats Gin, Saleyards Distillery (QLD)

Prohibition gin (SA)

SILVER MEDAL 2016 (A finely crafted spirit, well above average.)

Coastal Citrus Gin, Manly Spirits (NSW)

Horisumi Summer Gin, Archie Rose(NSW)

Signature Dry Gin, Archie Rose(NSW)

Sweet Pea Gin, Dobson’s(NSW)

Whisky Barrel Aged Gin, Manly Spirits(NSW)

Barrel Aged Gin, Twenty Third Street (SA)

Signature Gin, Twenty Third Street (SA)

Bathtub Cut Gin, Prohibition (SA)

Yuzu Gin, Settlers Spirits (SA)

Gin, A True Spirit, Poltergeist (TAS)

Arboretum Gin, Animus (VIC)

Bartender Series Spiced Negroni Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)

Distiller Series Dry Island Gin, Four Pillars x Hernö (VIC)

Gin, BeGin (VIC)

Macedon Dry Gin, Animus (VIC)

Navy Strength Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)

Pink Gin, BeGin (VIC)

78° Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery (SA)

Dry Gin, Hippocampus (VIC)

Lady Susanne Gin, TerraAustralis Distillery (VIC)

Signature Gin, Underground Spirits (ACT)

Bronze (A well-crafted spirit that deserves recognition.)
Fool Strength Gin, Poor Toms (NSW)
Sydney Dry Gin, Poor Toms (NSW)
Wise Old Goat Gin, Saleyards Distillery (QLD)
Spiced Fig Gin, Settlers Spirits (SA)
Sloe Gin, Settlers Spirits (SA)
Meadow Gin, Dasher + Fisher (TAS)
Ocean Gin, Dasher + Fisher (TAS)
The Splendid Gin (TAS)
Ambrosian Gin, Animus (VIC)
Premium Dry Gin, Patient Wolf (VIC)
Rare Dry Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)
Sherry Cask Gin, Four Pillars (VIC)
Classic Dry Gin, Original Spirit Co.(VIC)
Gin, Applewood Distillery (SA)
London Dry Gin, Vickers (SA)

What is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition?

Launched in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition is considered the most respected and influential spirits competition in the world, with a rigorous judging process involving highly controlled blind-tastings with an expert panel who only receive information on spirit type, ABV and age (where applicable) to remove bias.

Ambleside Distillers Big Dry gin

A few weeks ago I managed to squeeze in a trip to Adelaide. South Australia is fast becoming the gin state, so I was excited to see a few of the new distilleries popping up. Top of my list was Ambleside Distillers, who opened in November 2017.

I’d recently met Steve, Trudy, Matt and Matt’s partner Bella, when I hosted the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards.  Their Small Acre gin had picked up a Silver medal, which they were naturally delighted about and I was keen to hear more about them.

Ambleside Distillers is a family business. Steve and Trudy’s son Matt was working in London just as Sipsmith opened in 2006. If you recall, Sipsmith was the first gin distillery to open in London for 200 years and played a huge part in the new gin renaissance. Seeing the response to the new wave of gins, when Matt returned to Australia he began discussing the idea of opening a distillery with his parents, where they lived in Hahndorf.

Although the weather was not kind (rain!), the distillery is in a beautiful location and Hahndorf is a major tourism centre, making it the perfect spot for a distillery to thrive. The distillery is on the main road into the town and Steve grinned and told me “If we don’t get you on the way in, we’ll get you as you leave!”. There was certainly plenty of interest when I visited. A steady stream of visitors began arriving immediately the doors opened.

Ambleside Team and I
The rain stopped for 5 minutes so we could grab a photo!

The team have launched three gins, which might ambitious, but they just each made a gin that they really liked!

ambleside gins
The three Ambleside gins

Trudy’s gin is the No. 8 Botanical, and is made with organic Riverland oranges, and Big Dry gin is Matt’s invention. Steve’s recipe is made with ingredients grown around the distillery, including apple, bay leaf and rhubarb. There is some healthy competition between the three, with Trudy saying, “Steve may have won a Silver medal, but mine sells the most!”

Like many distilleries in Australia (including Melbourne gin company, Ambleside Distillers have used grape based spirit from Tarac, while the still was commissioned from a company in Ballarat and is completely copper throughout. With the distillery industry growing, it’s wonderful to see traditional businesses like still-making, also receiving a boost.

The Ambleside gin still


All of the Ambleside gins are really tasty, however, my favourite  of the three was the Big Dry gin made by Matt.

Big Dry Gin Botanicals

Aside from juniper berries, Matt has incorporated jalapeño peppers, kaffir lime leaf, thyme, rosemary, and coriander seed.

Tasting Big Dry Gin

Looking at the botanicals, you can guess that it will be savoury and herbaceous and it doesn’t disappoint. There is lots of juniper on the nose, with citrus from the coriander and kaffir lime also noticeable. The fresh, piney flavour develops into herbal notes , but it’s also fresh and grassy which I put down to the jalapeño pepper. Matt has skillfully captured the freshness of the pepper without the heat.

Drinking Big Dry Gin

Big Dry gin is perfect g&t material. Matt served it  garnished with a slice of jalapeño and coffee beans, an absolutely delicious combination which I copied when I got home.

I’d  recommend you try it in a Gibson martini and I think it would make a divine Red Snapper. Maybe with a little extra jalapeño!

Red Snapper
Red Snapper


ABV: 45%

Price: Medium

You can follow Ambleside Distillers on Facebook and instagram. Alternatively, you can pop in and say hello! Their cellar door opening times can be found here.


Mother’s Day is coming up in a few weeks, so I’m giving one lucky person the chance to win one of my Esa Evans gin necklaces  to show that special woman how much you care!

All you have to do is complete the form below and in 50 words or less tell me why your mum/partner/wife/mother of your child needs this necklace.