You probably think whisky isn’t made in the Geelong region but Bellarine Distillery is here to prove you wrong.
Co-founder Russell Watson admits to being no stranger to a dram or two. Watson and wife Lorelle Warren spent several years hatching their plan to establish a distillery in the area, inspired in part by Bill Lark and his rekindling of Australia’s whisky production industry.
Watson explains, ‘from the beginning, the dream was to produce our own single malt whisky, made, matured and bottled on the Bellarine.’
From delivery of the first still in 2015 to opening The Whiskery in 2018, gin was an important first step of their journey. Thus the Drysdale cellar door has been treating lucky locals to a range of gins, cocktails and locally-sourced snacking options. But whisky, like all good things, takes time.
It’s a mix of American and French oak, tawny port and shiraz barrels as well as three months in an ex-bourbon cask that gives this whisky a stunning flavour profile. Bottled under the company’s distinctive branding, Bad Boy Billy whisky will only be available in strictly limited quantities. The recent first release sold out in one hour! Rest assured more releases are already in the pipeline.
Australian godfather of whisky, Bill Lark, has nothing but high praise. ‘It’s a tremendous expression of what we can produce here in Australia – a really great whisky rich in flavour, luscious and oily across the palate.’
WHAT: A Single Malt Whisky from Bellarine Distillery
WHERE: Purchase directly from the Bellarine Distillery website
WHEN: Head to their website to sign up for the newsletter for updates on the next release.
Gin may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Rutherglen but that’s about to change. Three Chain Road Gin is Buller Wines’ exciting new venture, drawing on their legacy and expertise to produce a gin that truly speaks of the region.
Inspired by a de-commissioned brandy still sitting idling by, winemaker David Whyte had an idea. ‘We’ve got a good understanding of blending,’ he says, alluding to the brand’s well-recognised canon of fortified wines, ‘so it was a natural progression for us to move into doing gin.’
Gin has always been a reflection of where it is made and Three Chain Road Gin is no different. A combination of traditional as well as native botanicals, such as lemon myrtle, wattle seed and pepper berry, will be sourced from local farmers supplemented with plantings from their own property. The current range of craft gins has plenty to get you started and more are in the pipeline.
Three Chain Road Premium Dry Gin is your go-to for the perfect G & T. The Elderflower Gin is more refined, making for a delightful gin spritz. It’s the Rare Muscat Gin where Three Chain Road Gin really hits their stride though, incorporating 50-year-old Muscat – what could be more Rutherglen than that? There’s also currently a Shiraz Gin in the works, which means your winter gin needs look sorted.
The Buller Calliope cellar has been given a recent facelift opening the way for distillery tours, a tasting room as well as gin masterclasses where you can indulge your inner distiller and make your own gin.
This could be the start of something beautiful.
WHAT: Three Chain Road Gin
WHERE: 2804 Federation Way, Rutherglen
WHEN: Open 7 days 10am – 5pm
MORE INFO: Three Chain Road Gin
Words by Amanda Kennedy Images Supplied
It’s no surprise that Ballarat’s long association with brewing and distilling began with the Gold Rush. With water often being undrinkable on the goldfields, beer was an obvious alternative. This legacy can be seen today in a city whose university offers a two-year course in brewing.
Ballarat boasts plenty of spots to sample locally made beverages but to taste what the region really has to offer head to one of the following.
The moment you ask around about craft beer in Ballarat Aunty Jacks comes up time and again. Although a relative newcomer, it has fast become a go-to for all things craft beer. Whether you stay for a meal, grab a tasting paddle and listen to some live music or join in on the regular beer education classes, Aunty Jacks has it covered.
But the real stand-out has to be drinking a cold one only metres from where it’s made; it doesn’t come any fresher than that.
Cubby Haus Brewing
It was an obsession with real ale that led Cubby Haus founders to design and build themselves a brewery, as you do. Five years on, they’ve developed a strong following. With eight core beers and plenty of single batch experiments, there’s something for everyone from a refreshing pilsner or an English IPA through to darker treats like their Oatmeal Stout.
Dollar Bill Brewing
They say good things come to those who wait. This just about sums up Dollar Bill’s approach to fermentation. Beers (as well as ciders and meads) are given plenty of time in French oak barrels to reach their peak. It’s this exacted barrel-ageing process along with a mastery of wild fermentation that has cemented the brewery’s reputation amongst craft beer nerds.
Each seasonal release of the Parlay beer is eagerly anticipated by the brewery’s legion of loyal fans. Though the sour, complex flavours can be challenging at first, patience and persistence is rewarded.
Red Duck Beer
In 2005 Scott and Vanessa Wilson-Browne started out with a simple plan – to make good beer that is good for you. Showcasing their commitment to natural ingredients and processes, their recent coffee and chocolate dark beer uses grain, coffee beans and cocoa sourced from local Ballarat producers.
Getting together with some friends? The obvious choice has to be the Quack Pack with 24 cans so you can experience the full Red Duck treatment.
Scott Wilson-Browne (yes, the same Scott from Red Duck) and Chris Pratt initially bonded over craft beer but it was a shared interest in distilling that led them to establish Kilderkin Distillery in 2016.
Though their whisky is yet to hit the market, there are six different gins to tempt your tastebuds. The Original Larrikin Gin with its blend of Australian botanicals is a natural starting off point to explore the range.
Although the distillery is presently between cellar door locations, you can still find Larrikin Gin through local outlets as well as via their online store.
A diagnosis of coeliac disease didn’t dampen John O’Brien’s passion for beer. Swapping out the usual grain bill of barley and wheat for sorghum and millet was just the beginning. It took several years of innovation in both the brewing process and equipment but his effort paid off in spades.
Since launching the first commercial beer in 2005, O’Brien Beer has snagged over 40 international awards. And you don’t have to be gluten-free to enjoy it.