Caroline Childerley Issue 15 Regional Focus

South Australia’s must-visit gin distilleries and bars

Seppeltsfield Road Distillers owners, Jon and Nicole Durdin.

By Caroline Childerley

When Kangaroo Island Spirits opened the first dedicated gin distillery in Australia in 2006, it made South Australia the cradle of the Australian gin scene and since then the state has become home to some of the country’s best gin distillers.

With a population of less than two million, South Australia punches well above its weight in the number of award-winning distilleries it boasts, and the best thing is, most of them are less than an hour’s drive from Adelaide. 

So, whether you want to head out to the wine regions or stay in the urban centre (or take a short flight to Kangaroo Island!) you’ll be able to enjoy a sample or two of your favourite spirit in a diverse range of settings.


Urban gems

Prohibition Liquor Co.
22 Gilbert St, Adelaide SA 5000
http://www.prohibitionliquor.co

Prohibition Liquor Co.
Prohibition Liquor Co. Credit: nowandthenphotography.com.au

Prohibition Liquor Co. is a 10-minute walk from Adelaide’s Central Business District (CBD). The founders, Wes Heddle and Adam Carpenter, have created an urban distillery and popular watering hole for their iconic gins.

On the outside it looks like any other vibrant city bar, buzzing with enthusiastic gin lovers, but adjacent to the bar you’ll find the still room, where all the magic happens.

Sampling sessions are conducted in the spacious tasting room, which can be hired for parties and celebrations. Being so close to the centre of the city, you have no excuse not to pop by for a quick G&T!

Imperial Measures Distilling 
31 W Thebarton Rd, Thebarton SA 5031
http://www.imdistilling.com

Imperial Measures' main room
Imperial Measures’ main room

The founders of Imperial Measures Distilling, David Danby and Chris Jones, met while working at the same high-end restaurant. Their experience in hospitality informs the style of their venue, which is a quick 10-minute drive from the city.

Best known for their over-proof Bold Gin, the duo have created a bar and tasting room with a relaxed, friendly vibe. 

Sure, you can do gin tastings, but there are local craft beers on tap and a brilliant cocktail list too. There are also vintage arcade games such as Frogger and Space Invaders and the venue’s ‘Smash Burgers’ are legendary – an absolute must when you come to visit.


For the road-trippers

Ambleside Distillers
B34, Hahndorf SA 5245
http://www.amblesidedistillers.com

Ambleside Distillers' Botanical No. 8 gin
Ambleside Distillers’ Botanical No. 8 gin

Picturesque Hahndorf, known for its German-style architecture and artisanal food, is only a 30-minute drive from the centre of Adelaide. Here you will find Ambleside Distillers, a family business where each member has created a gin to their own taste preference. You can sample Mum Trudy’s Botanical No. 8 gin, Dad Steve’s Small Acre gin or son Matt’s Big Dry gin on the outside deck area that overlooks the surrounding fields and a botanical garden the team have planted.

‘Blend your own gin’ masterclasses and a behind-the-scenes tour of the distillery can be booked in advance.

Adelaide Hills Distillery
68 Chambers Rd, Hay Valley SA 5252
http://www.78degrees.com.au

Adelaide Hills Distillery
Adelaide Hills Distillery

Adelaide Hills Distillery is set on an 84-hectare property a little north of Nairne, in the Adelaide Hills, just over half an hour away from the city. It shares the former cattle pasture with a craft brewery, cider maker and celebrated restaurant that has a strong focus on local produce.

It’s a benchmark project for sustainability and renewable energy, with 1,700m2 of solar panels and a sophisticated osmosis system that purifies the water available on-site for use across all businesses.

Adelaide Hills was named Distiller of the Year at the 2020 Icons of Gin awards, so you will be enjoying some of the best gins in Australia. Its founder Sacha LaForgia also makes whisky, apple brandy and cane spirit, which illustrates his incredible talent.

Never Never Distilling Co.
56 Field St, McLaren Vale SA 5171
http://www.neverneverdistilling.com.au

Never Never Distilling Co. and the nearby Chalk Hill Winery have collaborated to create an exciting cellar door experience that showcases the beautiful McLaren Vale wine region.

Settle into one of the comfy couches in the bar and enjoy a gin and tonic tasting flight, or choose from a range of in-house gin cocktails made by the talented team of bartenders.

You can buy Italian street food by resident Cucina di Strada to eat on the deck, or alternatively, grab a picnic blanket and settle down on the grass to take in the spectacular view of the rolling hills and manicured vines. 

Enjoy live music under the stars while sipping on your favourite Never Never gin (make mine a Juniper Freak G&T) every Friday night.

Applewood Distillery
24 Victoria St, Gumeracha SA 5233
http://www.applewooddistillery.com.au

Brendan and Laura Carter, founders of Applewood Distillery
Brendan and Laura Carter, founders of Applewood Distillery

Applewood Distillery is best known for its encyclopaedic knowledge of Australian native botanicals. A visit to its cosy tasting room at the Old Gumeracha Cold Stores (just under an hour’s drive from Adelaide) will give you the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating range of ingredients that Australian gin distillers have at their disposal.

Applewood has three core gins for you to sample – Original, Navy and Coral – but make sure you try some of the distillery’s mono expressions, such as the Lemon
Myrtle and Macadamia gins, which hero native botanicals.

Seppeltsfield Road Distillers
436 Seppeltsfield Rd, Marananga SA 5355 
http://www.seppeltsfieldroaddistillers.com.au

Alfresco drinks at Seppeltsfield Road Distillers
Alfresco drinks at Seppeltsfield Road Distillers

Nicole and Jon Durdin were inspired to begin a career in gin distilling while living in London. Jon is a huge fan of the TV show Grand Designs and this has strongly influenced the style of the distillery, which is located at the heart of the Barossa wine region, an hour’s drive from Adelaide.

The tasting room and bar have been built using reclaimed shipping containers and then clad in wood to fit in with the surrounding environment. The still, Christine, takes pride of place in a glass room at the heart of the space.

Visitors are welcome to sample Seppeltsfield Road Distillers gin, including its award-winning Barossa Shiraz gin, and the outdoor deck offers guests plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a cocktail in the sunshine.


Take an adventure

Kangaroo Island Spirits
856 Playford Hwy, Cygnet River SA 5223
http://www.kispirits.com.au

The Kangaroo Island Spirits cellar door
The Kangaroo Island Spirits cellar door

A 20-minute flight from Adelaide, you’ll discover Kangaroo Island, home to KISpirits, the first gin-focused distillery in Australia.

Founders Jon and Sarah Lark had been living in a desert region of Australia before deciding to make a sea change and settle on this pristine island, where more than a third of the land is a nature reserve. 

If Jon’s surname is familiar, it’s because he is the brother of Lark Distillery founder Bill Lark, widely regarded as the ‘godfather’ of the Australian craft distilling scene.

The Larks were inspired to make their own gin by the natural environment and local producers. Jon planted a botanical garden to produce natives for use in his gins. These include Boobiala (native juniper) and coastal Daisy Bush.

The beautiful Gin Garden is the perfect place to enjoy a flight of KIS gins or a gin and tonic. Alternatively, you can sign up for a cocktail masterclass or a ‘blend your own gin’ session. 

Don’t have time to make the trip to Kangaroo Island? Then visit the distillery’s Adelaide tasting room, Sparkke at the Whitmore.


Discover more Australian gins here, and read more features from issue 15 here.

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