Find out about what happens on a gin distillery tour: what you do, where you go and what you get to drink! We hit the road with The Gin Queen and her latest Sydney craft gin distillery tour.
It’s an exciting time to be a gin distiller in Australia – but it’s even more exciting to be a gin drinker! There are tiny craft distilleries popping up all over the place at the moment and they’re producing some wonderful stuff.
Many of these little distilleries – often run by one or two people – are happy to welcome visitors and have the ability to sell direct from the distillery. However, to get the real distillery experience, you have to know someone.
We were recently invited aboard the Gin Bus to tour a couple of Sydney’s craft distilleries by our friend and gin genius (or ‘ginius’ if you will) Caroline Childerley – also known as The Gin Queen.
Caroline’s been running gin classes as part of her site TheGinQueen.com for quite a while now. These distillery tours are the latest evolution of her educational forums. And I can see why they’re consistently booked out.
Sydney’s craft gin distillery tour with The Gin Queen
Fully caffeinated, we meet Caroline and the crew at Circular Quay to board the Gin Bus. We’re on our way to our first stop on this gin distillery tour!
Stop 1 – Distillery Botanica, Erina
Distiller, owner and gin savant Philip Moore welcomes us to the Distillery Botanica with a delicious G&T using his classic (and my favourite) Moore’s Dry Gin.
Next to his beautiful copper still, Philip gives a fascinating and thorough explanation of his creative process. He makes it clear that crafting gin is a strange, arcane virtuosity of trial, error, persistence and intuition.
Philip lets us sample the other liqueurs and special gins like the limited edition Sydney Botanic Gardens gin he makes at Distillery Botanica. We try his famous Mr Black cold-drip coffee spirit, his delicious chocolate and raspberry liqueurs and an excellent absinthe Philip makes too.
Light lunch includes thick slices of terrine that Philip has made himself, locally made ice cream blessed with a drop of that raspberry liqueur and a lemon myrtle chocolate.
The grounds of Distillery Botanica are stunning. The lush lawns are a favourite spot for weddings and the Aromatic Gardens are full of tantilising herbs and spices – many of which I’m certain find their way into Philip’s still!
Stop 2 – Poor Toms Distillery, Marrickville
The polar opposite of Distillery Botanica, this inner-city distillery, set in an old chandelier warehouse in the gritty backstreets of the Inner West, is home to a very different breed of distiller.
Jesse Kennedy and Griffin Blumer are two young go-getters who threw it all in to make gin.
Their welcome drink is a gin and tonic using their primary gin the Sydney Dry Gin. Its name is a thumbed nose in the direction of the London Dry style. And that’s just how Jesse and Griffin roll!
Griffin and Jesse also offer us their take on a negroni using their impressive navy strength gin 52%. I bought a bottle of this by the way.
After Griffin has regaled and entertained us with the history of Poor Toms Distillery, Jesse takes us through the functionality of making their gin. It’s every bit as raucous, fun and enlightening at Poor Toms as our time at Distillery Botanica was insightful and educational.
Stop 3 – cocktail at The Barbershop
The Barbershop is certainly Sydney’s most significant gin bar. It has a swathe of different gins to try and in so many different ways that the cocktail menu is as thick as your thumb.
Reclining in the comfy chairs reserved especially for us, we all reflect over the day’s work with Caroline and sip on our pristine martinis.
This is certainly the way to start any weekend!
Why book a tour?
Getting to speak to the distillers, having their undivided attention and time, and being able to try some of their secret or special releases is really quite special.
You might be able to organise a distillery visit independently, but you won’t get nearly as much special treatment or be able to see so closely behind the scenes.
With this tour you also get to meet like-minded gin fans. Caroline is also lovely and incredibly generous with her time.
This would be an awesome birthday present for your partner – it’s pretty much the cost of a posh dinner. It would also be great fun to get a couple of friends together and take this tour.
Caroline runs these craft gin distillery tours regularly around Australia and occasionally internationally too. Make sure you keep an eye on the upcoming events she publicises on her site here.
Have you ever visited a distillery? What’s your favourite gin? Tell us in the comments below!