This article was first published on Onya Magazine on December 11, 2019. Image by Mick Ross.
The craft gin industry is booming. Australian distillers are getting in on the action and steadily building an international profile for their unique take on the spirit. While Tasmania and Victoria are often considered the hubs of the local industry, Sydney is also home to many a first-class maker. So if you’re a gin lover, read our guide to the city’s must-visit distilleries.
Poor Toms is the creation of friends and housemates Jesse Kennedy and Griff Blumer, who established the gin brand in 2015. Their popular range consists of their first release Sydney Dry Gin, Strawberry Gin, Fool Strength Gin (so-called for its 52 per cent alcohol beverage volume) and their imbroglio (their take on an amaro). All of which you can try at their inner-west distillery, Poor Toms Gin Hall, a warehouse space in Marrickville, which they opened in 2018. Trading Friday to Sunday, the vibe is relaxed and friendly, with pizza available on Friday and Saturdays and snags being served up on Sundays. You can even bring your pooch along for a bevvie and hang.
6 Chalder Ave, Marrickville
Open seven nights a week, Archie Rose was one of the first distilleries to open their doors to the public in Sydney back in 2014. The distillery bar is an elegant space, dressed in copper, steel and concrete and spread across a ground floor and mezzanine. Here, punters can enjoy any of the Archie Rose range (including some unreleased tipples not available anywhere else), cocktails, local craft beers, and biodynamic wine while grazing on cheese and charcuterie. The Archie Rose team – who in addition to gin made whisky, vodka and other limited edition spirits – also run distillery tours, gin masterclasses and tastings.
85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery
Manly Spirits Co.
Founded by David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton in 2015, the pair and their team create spirits including gin, vodka, whisky and liqueurs under the name Manly Spirits Co. Their gin, which is crafted with Australian native and marine botanicals, is made on-site at their Brookvale distillery in the Northern Beaches. Their on-site tasting bar is a sunny affair with white tiles, bright blue bar stools and honey wood tones, where they serve up Manly Spirits Co. cocktails and drinks and light snacks. They are open Friday to Sunday with tours and tastings operating the same days. For something a little different, try Manly Spirits Co.’s Gin Yoga, held two Sundays a month, it’ll set you back $20 and includes the class and a G&T.
4A/9-13 Winbourne Street, Brookvale
Four Pillars Gin and Drinks Lab
While it’s not open just yet, the Four Pillars Gin and Drinks Lab is one to earmark for a visit when it opens in early-2020. The reputed Victorian distiller is establishing their Sydney outpost in trendy Surry Hills, with a space that will be part-bar, part-shop and part-distillery. Their vision for the Lab is a place they can serve up Four Pillars drinks, sell their products, run tastings and masterclasses, and create small batches of gin with the help of Eileen, a 70-litre still being moved up from their Healesville distillery.
410 Crown Street, Surry Hills
While Young Henry’s are primarily known for their tasty craft beers, they also make a craft gin called Noble Cut. Describing it as a ‘brewer’s gin’, Noble Cut is made in the London dry style with pure grain spirit, classic botanicals like juniper, coriander, orange peel, angelica root, and some unique additions like bush tomato and hops. Sip it at their brewery and tasting bar in Newtown, open from 12pm to 7pm every day of the week.
76 Wilford Street, Newtown
While technically not in Sydney, Distillery Botanica in Erina on the Central Coast, a little over an hour’s drive north of the city, is well worth a visit. The man behind Distillery Botanica is Philip Moore, a horticulturist and distiller who grows many of the botanicals that feature in his award-winning gins on a lush three-acre garden that neighbours the distillery. Enjoy both the gardens and gins with a visit to Bar Botanica, open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am till 4pm.
25 Portsmouth Road, Erina