30 November, 2018

Move over, whisky! Gin is in at these top Tasmanian distilleries

Get a fresh taste of Tasmania on the rapidly expanding, increasingly awesome boutique gin trail.

Tasmania’s whisky is internationally renowned, but the island state is also getting a reputation for craft gin. Distilleries making this once old-fashioned, now on-trend drink are popping up everywhere. Here are some of the best for tours, tastings and sales, so draw designated-driver straws and embark on a spirited adventure.

Begin your gin journey in Hobart

No Tasmanian gin pilgrimage is complete without visiting Lark Distillery‘s cellar door and bar near Hobart’s waterfront. This label is famous for whisky, but Bill Lark’s pioneering efforts in the 1990s have made every Australian boutique spirit possible since then – including Lark’s own Forty Spotted gin, which has a hint of Tasmanian pepperberry. Take the afternoon to experience a comprehensive, half-day journey through Tasmania’s oldest operating distillery.

Lark Distillery
Lark Distillery (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne)

Steps away is Süd Polaire distillery’s cellar door and luxe pale-grey, foodie-friendly bar, Institut Polaire. There’s no better place to warm up to their five gins, including Antarctic dry, the Cru, which blushes pink with a hint of grape, and the yellow saffron-infused drop. Go on, sign up for their gin tasting experience, which includes notes and a cheese platter.

Institute Polaire, Süd Polaire Distillery
Institute Polaire, Süd Polaire Distillery (Image: Süd Polaire)

Discover more gins near Hobart

Within about an hour’s drive of Hobart are more gin-tastic distilleries, including Nonesuch. This small family-run enterprise, quaintly named for an old word meaning something excellent, invites visitors to taste the entire range and buy their gins. Be sure to purchase the one conjured from hemp, or the classic, ruby-coloured sloe gin made with sloe berries foraged from local hedgerows.

Nonesuch Dry Gin
Nonesuch Dry Gin (Image: Nonesuch)

Another little distillery with big ideas about local ingredients is Hartshorn, which produces gin made from sheep whey – a world first. What’s usually a discarded by-product from sheep-cheese production is distilled into a smooth, delicately sweet spirit. Drop by to taste their gin and cheese, ideally timed around the sheep-milking demonstration.

Grandvewe's Hartshorn Gin
Grandvewe's Hartshorn Gin

Take home a memento from the historic Lawrenny Estate, whose homestead and gardens have been restored to their 19th century glory. The cellar door’s offerings include the well balanced Van Diemen’s gin and more robust 1818 Settlers gin. So, perhaps two mementos then.

Lawrenny Range Gin
Lawrenny Range Gin (Image: Lawrenny)

Another destination for lovers of gin and history is Shene Estate and Distillery. Book the tour-plus-tasting option for a guided walk around the convict-built property and a nip of the Poltergeist gin. Or just roll up at their road-side stall for tastings and sales.

Shene Estate & Distillery
Shene Estate & Distillery (Image: Samuel Shelley)

Keep exploring Tasmania’s gin trail

McHenry Distillery is on the Tasman Peninsula, a short drive from the Port Arthur UNESCO World Heritage site. Choose from gins such as the classic London Dry style and the Federation, which features flora from every Australian state and territory, including Tassie’s celerytop pine. Or make a bottle exactly to your liking at a four-hour workshop led by William McHenry himself.

McHenry Distillery
McHenry Distillery (Image: Peter Jarvis)

You can’t go past The Splendid Gin, made near the Freycinet Peninsula at Spring Vale winery. Pop by the cellar door for a taste and you may also walk out with a bottle of their gin-based Summer Cup. It’s similar to Pimm’s, but with distinctive ingredients such as Tasmanian pepperberry.

Summer Cup Gin
Summer Cup Gin (Image: Splendid Gin)

Southern Wild Distillery is in Devonport, so it’s the perfect place to raise a glass to a gin journey well done and wedge another bottle into your car – remember, there are no luggage limits on Spirit of Tasmania! The distillery’s Dasher + Fisher gin range is named for the two rivers that provide the key ingredient: pristine water. Various, often local botanicals deliver three distinct gin styles: Meadow, Mountain and Ocean.

Southern Wild Distillery
Southern Wild Distillery (Image: S.Group)


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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