Published 6 November, 2017
The Australian distilling industry has come a long way since the Rum Rebellion of 1808. Today, Australia’s boutique distilleries are recognised as leaders on the world stage, using traditional techniques and premium local ingredients to produce award-winning whisky, gin, vodka and rum.
For an insight into the craft spirit scene in Australia, plan a visit to a distillery that offers exclusive group experiences. Not only will you enjoy memorable team-building opportunities, you’ll also have the chance to take home a taste of Australia.
Go behind the scenes of a top-rated whisky distillery in Tasmania, host a tutored gin tasting in the Yarra Valley, or try your hand at blending spirits in Sydney and Kangaroo Island.
A pioneer of the Australian whisky scene, Bill Lark opened Lark Distillery in Hobart in 1992, 150 years after the state’s last licenced distillery closed. Since then, Lark Single Malt Whisky has taken the world by storm, frequently outranking traditional Scottish and Irish whiskies at the World Whiskies Awards.
Located on the Hobart waterfront, the Lark Cellar Door and Whisky Bar is home to more than 150 premium whiskies. The atmospheric bar is available to book for group tastings of up to 50 people, showcasing Lark Single Malt alongside other Tasmanian and international producers. The distillery is currently being renovated, but when it reopens at the end of 2017, Lark will host two-hour tours for up to 11 people, highlighting the processes and ingredients that go into making one of the world’s finest whiskies.
Just 20 minutes’ drive from the centre of Sydney, the Archie Rose Distilling Co. has scooped up awards across the globe. Soon after launching in March 2015, it was named best international bar at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in London, and in April 2017, its gin won best in class in the contemporary gin category at the American Distilling Institute Awards.
It all adds up to an exceptional distillery experience, where groups of up to 120 people can take a private tour of the distillery to see how Archie Rose’s gin, vodka and whisky are made. Following the tour, sit down to a gin blending masterclass, where participants can choose from a range of pure botanical distillates to create two bespoke bottles of gin to take home. Native ingredients such as lemon myrtle, river mint, blood lime and Dorrigo pepper leaf add an Australian accent to this traditionally British spirit. Complete your tour with a cocktail and cheese platter at the Archie Rose bar.
Since launching in 2013, Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin has twice been awarded a prestigious Double Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. To sample this top-shelf gin straight from the source, visit the Four Pillars Distillery in the Yarra Valley, just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Set in an old timber shed, the cellar door is decorated with copper and dark wood, with windows overlooking the distillery and three copper stills.
Groups of up to 20 can enjoy a tutored tasting of the Four Pillars range, which includes insights into the history of gin and the gin-making process, along with samples of the Rare Dry and Navy Strength gins, and seasonal specials such as the Bloody Shiraz Gin and Spiced Negroni Gin.
For a more in-depth experience, Four Pillars also runs regular cocktail-making classes, distiller’s masterclasses, and hands-on Maker Sessions for up to 12 people, offering you the chance to work with head distiller Cameron Mackenzie to create a micro-distillation using handpicked botanicals.
The trophy cabinet must be close to overflowing at Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS). This boutique distillery located on Kangaroo Island, has garnered more than 30 international medals for its gins, vodkas and liqueurs.
Owners Jon and Sarah Lark draw inspiration from Kangaroo Island produce in creations such as Samphire Vodka, Mulberry Gin, and Honey & Walnut Liqueur, but it’s their Wild Gin flavoured with native juniper and barrel-aged gins that have won international acclaim, with the Old Tom Gin being named Australia’s best gin at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards in 2016 and 2017.
At the distillery and cellar door, book a two-hour blending masterclass for up to 20 people, using traditional and native botanicals to create a bespoke 200ml bottle of gin. KIS also runs informative gin masterclasses at the distillery or a location of your choice on Kangaroo Island or in Adelaide.