Six of the best local gin distilleries to try, whether you drink gin or not

Six of the best local gin distilleries to try, whether you drink gin or not

The Bellarine Distillery
Words by Bethany Long

Distillery doors are the perfect weekender activity for liquor lovers.

Over the last few years, distilleries have been popping up all over the Geelong region, and if you’re anything like me that is music to your ears.

Although gin is quite a divisive drink amongst my friends, I’m yet to believe that not everyone likes gin – it’s all about what you’re drinking and what you mix it with. Just last weekend over a round of cocktails with the girls, one of my friends was repulsed (alright, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, all she was slightly grossed out) that my choice contained gin. But, upon arrival of our four different cocktails chosen by four different women, she decided that my gin cocktail was the best and continued to sip exclusively on that for the rest of the night!

While most people think of vodka as the most versatile alcohol, I like to think of gin as the cooler, more interesting, and more mysterious older sister (I aspire to be this older sister). Drinks with gin can be sweet, or savoury, warming or cooling, spicy or zingy. There is so much more nuance between gins (and even tonic waters!) that if you haven’t found a gin you like, you’re just not trying hard enough.

Whether you’re not quite a gin lover yet or an absolute gin fiend, there is a local gin for you. And, if you need a helping hand in figuring that out this list may be the perfect spot to begin, but the perfect next step is attending the free Gin Festival at Murphy’s this Sunday.

Bellarine Distillery

This, in my opinion, is a classic Geelong gin. I don’t know why – maybe because it’s the first Geelong-based gin I tried, maybe it’s simply because a day out at the Whiskery (the venue owned by Bellarine Distillery) is always a trans-seasonal hit. Whatever the reason though you can’t go wrong with their four distinct and delicious gins.

My favourite of theirs is the herbal and savoury Old Dodger Navy Style Gin – the perfect pick for a gin and tonic! Gives me reclusive artist vibes while simultaneously making me crave a weekend escape into nature – but that’s just me!

If you like your gin straight (hats off to you my friend!) Bellarine Distillery recommends their signature Teddy & The Fox. A citrusy sipping gin with botanicals such as the classic juniper, lemon myrtle, orange, coriander, star anise, and orris root. So delish! Definitely a great choice for soaking up whatever warm days we have left!

Plus, the branding is so gosh darn adorable! All of the gins are named after dogs (Teddy, Rosey, Trooper, and Dodger), bringing back all the childhood memories of Fox and the Hound (still not over that heartbreak).

With winter coming up, I can highly recommend heading down to their distillery in Drysdale and parking by the fire with a good gin!

Anther Spirits

Located at the Federals Mills, Anther Spirits create not only excellent gins that are in no uncertain terms, sophisticated and complex.

Their signature gin being the Anther Distilled Gin features a big juniper flavour with eucalyptus, coriander, lemon gum, tarragon, and finger limes, and features 16 botanicals in total.
The Charismatica Limited Release features a similarly complex recipe of 17 botanicals including blood orange peel, fennel seeds, river mint, lavender, and green tea alpine.

The Goddess Strength Gin is my personal fave. Designed to celebrate the strength of women, this navy strength gin feats cubeb, saltbush, honey, maple syrup, and sarsaparilla. Warming (from the cubeb which is a savoury pepper) and sweet, this gin is an alluring choice.

With ingredients sourced from across the globe (including Macedonia, Egypt, and India) Anther Spirits creates an intriguing and global gin.

If you’re a gin lover, make sure to book your tasting in and head down to the cellar door to taste these for yourself.

Apollo Bay Distillery

Apollo Bay Distillery highlights three impressively balanced gins – the Ocean Gin, Speculant Grapefruit Gin and SS Casino Gin.

Their SS Casino Gin their classic dry gin, is perfectly balanced with notes of juniper, cinnamon myrtle, saltbush, and fennel perfect. This gin makes for the perfect light G&T with a shaving of cucumber – ideal for a spring afternoon.

The Speculant Grapefruit Gin is a case study flavour pairings. With grapefruit, hibiscus, and wormwood botanicals, this is a simple and refreshing floral gin.

And despite my deep love of grapefruit, my choice is the Ocean Gin. I love the use of native and local ingredients – it brings a truly special quality to anything – and with this gin using local saltbush and native myrtles, it’s a no-brainer.

However, what excites me most about Apollo Bay Distillery is their Gin Blending Masterclass. Learning about and tasting gins with a cheese platter and then getting to create your own to take home?!?! This is a gin lover’s dream!!!

Queenscliff Distillery

With a wide range of six (six!) distinct gins, the Queenscliff Distillery has something to please everyone. Whether it be the trendy, sweet, and delicious Pink Hibiscus Gin or the bold and savoury Navy Gin (perfect for the gin veterans!) you’re bound to find a gin you love.

The Citrus Gin is perfect for those who love zing (and in my opinion is the perfect G & T option), while the Dry Gin is basically a subtler, more nuanced version of the Navy Gin (perfect for those still developing their gin palate!)

And while, yes I tend to favour a Navy-style gin (love those heavy botanicals!), I’m most drawn to the Queenscliff Botanical Gin. Why? Elderflower is one of my absolute favourite flavours to match with gin, so with the primary botanicals including lavender and elderflower for a soft floral fragrance, I’m sold!

The most intriguing gin however is the 2nd Chance Gin. A true COVID innovation, in collaboration with Urban Alley Brewery, this gin is the product of double distilling various beers from the 2020 lockdown. The result? A malty and hoppy gin with a raspberry finish!

Flowstate Craft

Crafted in Torquay, this gin is all about celebrating Victoria. The Craft Gin is their staple gin – with a distinctly Victorian origin. With botanicals including coastal daisy sourced from the Surf Coast and Australian hops from the Victoria high country, this gin represents the landscape of Victoria.

Collaborating with some of Victoria’s best winemakers for their seasons/limited releases, you can see how this gin celebrates all that Victoria has to offer.

Right now, their seasonal offering is a Chardy Gin crafted by aging their signature Craft Gin in French Oak barrels used to age the Chardonnay from Austins Wines. How cool!

Great Ocean Road Gin

Great Ocean Road Gin fully embraces the coastal lifestyle where it’s crafted. With its two award-winning gins named Guvvos (after the local surf break favoured by the distiller’s daughter) and Split Point (named for the iconic Airey’s lighthouse), this gin company is a true reflection of the coast – right down the native botanicals selected to flavour their gins.

If you’re new to gin, try the classic style of the Split Point (won two awards at the Australian Gin Awards in 2019) or try the sweet Raspberry Gin Liqueur as a stepping stone into gin – you’ll thank me!

My recommendation for those who love gin? The Guvvos Gin. Crafted with a diverse range of over 20 botanicals, including nine botanicals local to the Surfcoast (including coast daisy, saltbush, pig face, kelp, indigenous eucalypts, and local honey) this gin is a true reflection of the creativity of our local gin industry. And I’m not the only one who thinks so – in 2019 the Guvvos nabbed Gold at the Australian Gin Awards!

Check them out at their Tasting Room or Gin Garden.

If you’re wanting to try any of these local gins, well you are in luck! Not only do many of them have their own cellar doors, but they will all be showcasing their drops at the Murphy’s Gin Festival this Sunday. Kicking off from 12, with tastings starting at 2pm it’ll be the perfect way to get to know the phenomenal gins our region has to offer. You can find out more about the event here.