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The History of Australian Gin Distilling and Craft Spirits

The word history may be a stretch for Australian gin distillation, as the first distillery was established less than 20 years ago. Be it as it may, Australia has quickly become a thriving hub for gin production, with many unique and high-quality gins now being produced in the country.

The first gin distillery in Australia started with a man by the name of Bill Lark and his whiskey distillery, Lark Distillery in 1992 down in Tasmania, Australia. However, it wasn't Bill who suddenly switched to distilling gin. Instead it was his brother who got the inspiration from him to start his own distillery just south of Tasmania on Kangaroo Island. This was in fact Australia's first dedicated gin distillery. 

In recent years, the popularity of Australian gin has proliferated, with more and more distilleries popping up across the country. Some of the most well-known and highly regarded Australian gins include Archies, Never Never Distilling Co's Triple Juniper Gin, Brogan's Way's Winter Gin, and of course our very own Natural Distilling Co Hemp Gin and Hemp Vodka; the finest Gippsland Gin that has won multiple awards.

One factor contributing to the success of Australian gin is the country's unique botanicals, often used to create distinctive flavour profiles. These botanicals include native Australian ingredients like lemon myrtle, wattle seed, finger lime and traditional gin ingredients like juniper, coriander, and citrus peel. 

Furthermore, the extreme fluctuations in weather here in Victoria may be harsh on the human spirit but it is perfect for barrelling spirits of the liquid variety – the rapidly changing temperatures and humidity interact wonderfully with the barrels, accelerating a process that can take over a decade so that you will see similar results within mere months. 

When did craft spirits become popular in Australia?

Craft spirits began to gain popularity in Australia in the early 2000s, following a global trend towards small-batch, locally sourced products. While larger distilleries had produced spirits in Australia for many years, the craft movement shifted towards more artisanal, hand-crafted products emphasising quality over quantity.

One of the early pioneers of the Australian craft spirits movement was Lark Distillery, founded in Tasmania in 1992. Lark Distillery began producing single malt whiskey using traditional methods, and its success helped to inspire a new generation of craft distillers.

By the mid-2000s, the craft spirits movement had gained significant momentum, with new distilleries opening nationwide. Many of these distilleries focused on producing gin, experiencing a global resurgence then.

Today, Australia has a thriving craft spirits industry, with hundreds of distilleries producing high-quality spirits using locally sourced ingredients. The industry is driven by a commitment to quality, sustainability, and innovation and continues attracting local and international attention.

What is the best Gin?

It’s a tough call here, as there are some incredible gins out there in the world, each with its unique taste and style. However, some of the most highly regarded gin brands include:

  1. Hendrick's Gin - This Scottish gin is known for its unique blend of botanicals, including cucumber and rose petals.
  2. Bombay Sapphire Gin - This London Dry gin is made with ten carefully selected botanicals, resulting in a crisp, smooth flavour.
  3. Monkey 47 Gin - This German gin is made with 47 botanicals, including lingonberries, resulting in a complex, rich flavour.
  4. Tanqueray Gin - This classic London Dry gin is known for its bold, juniper-forward flavour and crisp finish.
  5. Sipsmith Gin - This London-based distillery produces a range of excellent gins, including a classic London Dry and a sloe gin.
  6. Natural Distilling Co – We are known for our unique gin & vodka distilled using the finest Australian botanicals and a taste profile unlike any other craft spirit on the market. Gippsland gin at its finest!

Ultimately, the "best" gin will depend on your taste preferences and what you plan to use it for, whether it be sipping neat, mixing it into cocktails, or using it as a base for a refreshing gin and tonic recipe.

Melbourne – Australia’s Hub for Hospitality

We aren’t going to claim that Melbourne has the best culinary culture in the world, but it is damn good! Here are some reasons Melbourne is top-notch for food and drink:

  1. Cultural diversity: Melbourne is a multicultural city with a large population of immigrants from various parts of the world. This has led to a diverse food scene with many international cuisine options.
  2. Quality produces: Victoria, where Melbourne is located, has a reputation for producing high-quality fresh produce. This has allowed chefs in Melbourne to access the best ingredients and showcase them in their dishes.
  3. Innovation: Melbourne's vibrant food culture encourages experimentation and creativity in the kitchen. This has led to the development of unique food trends and fusion cuisine.
  4. Food events: Melbourne hosts several food festivals and events throughout the year, drawing in crowds of food lovers worldwide. This has helped to establish Melbourne as a hub for foodies and culinary enthusiasts.
  5. Awards and recognition: Melbourne has been consistently recognised as a foodie destination, with many restaurants and chefs receiving national and international awards and accolades. This has helped cement Melbourne's reputation as a city with exceptional food.

What are the best Gin Distilleries in Melbourne?

Melbourne’s distilleries and craft spirits are unparalleled by other cities in Australia and worldwide. The attention to detail, the high-quality craft ingredients, expert craftsmanship, and the ultimate love for the art of distillation makes Melbourne distilleries uniquely the best. Further, the extreme weather conditions of Victoria make it one of the best environments for distilling spirits.

Here are a few of the most beloved distilleries in the greater Melbourne area:

  1. Four Pillars Gin: Four Pillars is one of Australia's most famous gin distilleries, and their flagship distillery is in Healesville, just outside Melbourne. They are known for producing a range of award-winning gins, including their signature Rare Dry Gin, Bloody Shiraz Gin, and Navy Strength Gin.
  2. Patient Wolf Distilling Co: Patient Wolf is a craft gin distillery in Brunswick, Melbourne. They use traditional distilling methods and locally sourced botanicals to create their range of gins, which include a classic dry gin, a summer gin, and a barrel-aged gin.
  3. The Craft & Co: The Craft & Co is a unique distillery in Collingwood, Melbourne. They produce a range of spirits, including gin, vodka, and whiskey, using locally sourced ingredients. Their gin is made using a combination of traditional and native Australian botanicals.
  4. Melbourne Gin Company: Melbourne Gin Company is a small-batch distillery in Port Melbourne. They produce a range of gins, including their flagship Dry Gin, made using botanicals worldwide.

These are just a few of the best gin distilleries in Melbourne, but many others are worth exploring. Each distillery has its unique style and approach to gin distilling, so it's worth trying a range of gins to find your favourite.

Gin Bars in Melbourne you must try

While every Australian town has its watering holes, and the cities have considerably more options, Melbourne is in a league of its own for hospitality – and with it being the capital of Victoria (our home state), we’re fortunate to be so close to so many world-class gin bars – five of our favourites are:

  1. Bowerbird Hotel - With 70+ Victorian gins and a wide range of Victorian beers and wines, Bowerbirds' offering is distinctive.
  2. The Everleigh is a sophisticated cocktail bar focusing on classic cocktails and a wide range of gins, including rare and unique selections.
  3. The Gin Garden at The Boatbuilders Yard - This outdoor bar offers a beautiful riverside setting and a great selection of gins, gin-based cocktails, and other drinks.
  4. Madame Brussels - This quirky rooftop bar offers a playful, garden party-themed atmosphere and a diverse range of gin cocktails.
  5. Bar Ampere - This stylish bar in Melbourne's CBD features a curated selection of gins worldwide and a creative cocktail menu.

These are just a few of the many great gin bars in Melbourne. There are many other options to explore, so don't be afraid to try something new! If you haven't already, make sure to try our Hemp Gin & Vodka today, you won't regret it!



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