This article was published in the February 2019 print and digital issue of the Gin Society‘s Gin Journal magazine.
Tasmania does so much so well – wine, whisky, beer, gourmet food, delicious produce and, of course, gin. Small it may be, but Tasmania packs a punch with artisan distilleries that make some of Australia’s – if not the world’s – most innovative gins. So pack your bags and head south to explore these must-visit distilleries on our Tassie gin trail.
Tasmania’s historic capital is rich in culture and charm. It’s also the perfect gateway city to start your gin-venture. Here are a few pointers on what to see and do while in the island state.
Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
The fabulous Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is one big reason behind Hobart’s popularity in recent years. Founded by David Walsh in 2011, MONA hosts unique, cutting-edge exhibitions from big-name and new artistic talents in its amazing, partially underground space. This includes two major exhibitions a year (in winter and summer), alongside smaller ones throughout the year. Take the ferry in, explore the grounds and grab a meal at one of the on-site eateries, like The Source and Faro. If you really want the full experience, stay the night at one of the luxury MONA Pavilions. The museum is open from Wednesday to Monday from 10am to 6pm.
655 Main Road, Berriedale
Held every Saturday from 8.30pm to 3pm, the Salamanca Market hosts 300 stalls and is one of Australia’s biggest outdoor markets. While some go for the artisan products, art and crafts, we love it for the many Tasmanian producers and growers it brings together. Delicious cheeses, wines, baked goods, produce and spirits (including gin) are just some of what’s on offer.
Salamanca Place, Hobart
Hobart is host to first-class festivals and events year-round. Among them, there’s: Ginuary, an event showcasing Tassie craft gin, in – you guessed it – January; Taste of Tasmania, a week of all things local food, wine and spirits, in December; and MONA’s winter festival, Dark Mofo, in June. Be sure to check what’s on when you’re in town.
A beautiful bar in historic Battery Point, the focus at Society Salamanca is cocktails, gin and whisky. Their appreciation for our favourite tipple is reflected in a generous menu of local, national and international craft gin from Tasmania. Society Salamanca is open from Tuesday to Saturday.
22 Montpelier Retreat, Battery Point
The Glass House
Designed by reputed Tasmanian architect Robert Morris-Nunn, this striking glass bar and eatery at the end of Brook Street Pier is owned by local luxury hotel the Islington. Overlooking the Derwent River and Sullivan’s Cove, grab a seat with a view or a stool at the bar and enjoy elegant cocktails, wines and artisan spirits paired with unique share plates.
Main Deck, Brook Street Pier, Hobart
IXL Long Bar
The in-house bar of the boutique Henry Jones Art Hotel, the IXL Long Bar is a cosy and ambient space. Pop in for some live jazz and enjoy bar food, well-made cocktails and a comprehensive drinks menu of fine wines, artisan beer, cider and spirits – including plenty of gin from Tassie and around Australia.
25 Hunter Street, Hobart
Franklin is a chic, minimalist restaurant located in the former old Ford showroom inside Hobart’s historic Mercury Newspaper Building. Headed up by chef Analiese Gregory, the seasonal menu takes a local focus and is complemented by a diverse selection of wines, boutique spirits and beers curated by sommelier Forbes Appleby.
30 Argyle Street, Hobart
Led by Oskar Rossi and Federica Andrisani, Fico is a European restaurant with an intimate and relaxed feel. Locally sourced produce and Australian, French and Italian wines are the go here. So grab a table or a seat at the bar and ask their friendly staff for the ‘Let Us Cook For You’ menu – it’s an Italian-inspired culinary experience.
151 Macquarie Street, Hobart
A small, cool bistro in the city, Dier Makr offers an innovative, daily changing tasting menu of dishes that are as delightful to eat as they are presented. Open Wednesday to Sunday for dinner, expect minimal-intervention wines, local, seasonal ingredients and great cocktails.
123 Collins Street, Hobart
Try gin direct from the cellar door from these artisan distilleries in Hobart and across the state. There’s no ‘one way’ to tackle a Tassie gin trail, so arrange a designated driver and create your own itinerary for a trip you won’t soon forget.
Industry legend Bill Lark established the Lark Distillery in 1992 and in doing so pioneered Tasmania’s artisan whisky and gin industry. Lark make a range of distilled products with their 1800-litre copper pot still and 500-litre spirit still, including Forty Spotted Rare Tasmanian Gin and the more recent Forty Spotted Summer 2018 Gin. Head to their cellar door and whisky bar on the Hobart waterfront to try their gins, while whisky lovers will be tempted by the 150 malt whiskies on offer.
14 Davey Street, Hobart
While it may not be a distillery, Institut Polaire is the Hobart-based home of Süd Polaire spirits and Domaine Simha wine, and it’s a must-visit wine and cocktail bar/kitchen. A chic white space dressed in marble and plush pale-grey leather, take a seat and settle in for a tasting session that blends the best of Tassie in a glass and on a plate. Try Süd Polaire gins, which are micro-batch-distilled and bottled by hand in Tasmania, or do a tasting experience. Open from Wednesday to Sunday, visitors can purchase Süd Polaire gin and Domaine Simha wine at cellar door prices.
1/7 Murray Street, Hobart
Set in the foothills of Knocklofty in West Hobart, this home-based micro-distillery is the brainchild of three couples. Using a still and distillery predominantly made of recycled and second-hand materials, each of Knocklofty’s spirits is made with a grain-free spirit that’s fermented and distilled on-site, with individually distilled botanicals. Averaging 70 bottles per batch, their range of spirits includes Penn, Juniper and Garden Gins. Tours and tastings at this home distillery are by appointment only.
Nonesuch is a small family-owned and operated distillery located in Forcett, about a 15-minute drive east of Hobart Airport. They practise a philosophy of ‘quality over quantity’, which is reflected in the premium spirits and liquors created by friendly owner and distiller Rex. Nonesuch’s tasty gin offerings include their Dry, Sloe, and Hemp gins. Head to Forcett for tastings and a tour of their distillery.
491 Arthur Highway, Forcett
Hartshorn Distillery & Grandvewe Cheeses
Drive around 40 minutes south of Hobart and you’ll find yourself at Hartshorn Distillery and Grandvewe Cheeses. Here, you can see the sheep being milked at 3pm each day (from October to March), watch the cheese being made and aged, and visit Hartshorn’s cellar door to taste Sheep Whey Gin straight from the source. There’s also a cafe on-site with ocean views where you can enjoy a meal or drink, many of which are made with products from the cheesery and distillery.
59 Devlyns Road, Birchs Bay
Shene Estate and Distillery
Shene Estate and Distillery is a historic site that was once the country residence of early colonialist and lawyer Gamaliel Butler. The Kernke family acquired the property, located a half-hour north of Hobart, in 2006, and established a distillery where they make their range of Poltergeist Gin and Mackey Whisky. Shene Estate and Distillery operate gin tours and tastings on Saturday and Sunday by appointment.
76 Shene Road, Pontville
Old Kempton Distillery
The Old Kempton Distillery is housed in Dysart House, an 1842-built, grand old colonial inn. The main residence operates as a cafe serving up hearty country-style meals, while the former stables is the location of its copper stills. They produce a range of handcrafted, small-batch spirits here, including whisky, vodka, liquor and, of course, gin. Embezzler is their London dry style gin offering. Located 40 minutes north of Hobart, Old Kempton Distillery runs daily tours and tastings.
26 Main Street, Kempton
Spring Bay Distillery
Owners Cam and Suzy Brett opened Spring Bay Distillery in 2015. Using a 1200-litre Tasmanian-made copper pot still crafted by the highly reputed Peter Bailly of Knapp Lewer, they make both gin and single malt whisky. Made using pure Tasmanian rainwater with nine botanicals, Spring Bay Gin is a soft, sweet and complex gin. Located on the Tasmanian east coast, just over an hour northeast of Hobart, Spring Bay Distillery is open for tours and tastings by appointment.
6 Hoods Road, Spring Beach
The Splendid Gin
With the help of talented distiller Nat Fryar (former head winemaker at Janz), The Splendid Gin create delicious contemporary spirits using pure Tasmanian spring water and four-times-distilled grape spirit. Their current range includes their flagship The Splendid Gin (42% ABV) and their Summer Cup, an exotic and refreshing mixer with 25% ABV. The Splendid Gin cellar door is in Cranbrook on Tassie’s east coast, about two hours from Hobart.
130 Springvale Road, Cranbrook
Lawrenny Estate Distilling
Grand Lawrenny Estate sits on the banks of the Derwent River surrounded by green pastures, just over an hour northwest of Hobart, in the town of Ouse in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. Head distiller Joe Dinsmoor – who trained under the revered Bill Lark at the age of 16 and was the first and former master distiller at Sydney’s Archie Rose – produces Lawrenny’s range of premium whisky, vodka, liquor and gin. Visit their cellar door, open daily, and try their Van Diemen’s Gin, which won Gold at the 2018 Australian Distilled Spirits Award, and their 1818 Settlers Gin, which was awarded Silver in the same category.
6485 Lyell Highway, Ouse
Four Mile Creek
Ironhouse is a self-described “rock ‘n’ roll brewery, vineyard and distillery by the sea”. Located on Ironhouse Point in Four Mile Creek, it sits on Tasmania’s stunning northeast coast and is a three-hour drive from Hobart. Ironhouse’s gins, which go under the name Strange Omen, are big, complex and made with their own grape spirit base and nine botanicals. Try them for yourself at a tasting or tour at Ironhouse.
21554 Tasman Highway, Ironhouse Point, Four Mile Creek
Southern Wild Distillery
A more recent addition to Tasmania’s gin scene, Southern Wild makes gins under the name Dasher + Fisher. Head distiller and food scientist by trade George Burgess makes the gins, with fresh botanicals sourced from local growers and pure water. Keeping the Tassie theme going, their copper still was handmade by local craftsmen Stillsmiths. Visit their cellar door in Devonport, a little over an hour from Launceston, to take a distillery tour (bookings encouraged) and taste their Dasher + Fisher Mountain, Meadow, and Ocean Gins.
Tenancy 5/13-17 Oldaker Street, Devonport
Hellfire Bluff Distillery
Hellfire Bluff takes its name from the rocky outcrop it overlooks above beautiful Marion Bay on the southeast coast. A family-run distillery and farm, Hellfire Bluff make Potato Vodka (with potatoes grown on their land), Limoncello, and London Dry Gin with botanicals including orange and coriander. A 45-minute drive from Hobart, Hellfire Bluff’s cellar door is open on weekdays from 9am to 4pm.
55 Craig’s Hill Road, Boomer Bay
Located in historic Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula, McHenry Distillery is Australia’s southernmost distillery, producing a range of award-winning whisky, vodka and gin. Their gin offering is generous, and includes their Classic Dry, Summer, Barrel Aged, Navy Strength and Sloe Gins. McHenry Distillery run tours every day of the week, alongside gin-making workshops on Friday.
229 Radnor Road, Port Arthur