Lot 100: a thriving epicurean delight

In the middle of a cow paddock and beside an apple orchard in the Adelaide Hills, two very large, very modern sheds represent an exciting new development in how outstanding local epicurean fare is made and presented.

Lot 100 brings together a host of the brightest beverage and food talent in this state as co-habitants in a versatile production space and a huge, open plan tasting pavilion, located within the Ceravolo family’s 84ha property in the quiet Hay Valley, just outside of Nairne.

It’s the $4.5 million shared home of The Hills Cider Company, Ashton Valley Fresh juices, Adelaide Hills Distillery (producers of 78 Degrees gin), Mismatch beer and the storage facility for Vinteloper wines.

The size and scale of this smart collaborative venture has made an instant impression on hordes of visitors since Lot 100 opened in December 2018. However, most don’t realise this has been five patient years in the making – and that Lot 100 is determined to keep growing.

Lot 100 during the Adelaide Hills Crush Festival in January, 2019.

The latest step is to open a mezzanine bar in the production shed, built by carpenter Sam Weckert, above the amassed beverage production equipment. At spacious tables and benches, visitors will be able to participate in masterclasses, tastings and blend-your-own workshops presented by the various producers.

“These hands-on activities will be great fun, very educative and also give the participants a very clear idea of just how much production activity is happening inside this vast insulated shed,” says Lot 100 co-partner Toby Kline.

Participants will be exposed to a variety of new taste sensations, especially when presented with Adelaide Hills Distillery’s experimental Native Grain Project, which is working through trials of making spirits from such native ingredients as wattleseed, kangaroo grass and saltbush seed.

The epicenter of the production shed is Mismatch’s 35 hectolitre Premier Stainless brewhouse, which brewers Ewan Brewerton and Leigh Morgan installed and began operating a year ago, while the remainder of the facility was still being completed.

While the space is now humming with activity, there is still ample room for the producers to expand their operations. For instance, Vinteloper winemaker David Bowley continues to make his wines elsewhere in the Adelaide Hills, due to his preference for wild yeasts during fermentation posing a threat to the brewery’s production requirements – but he will store his wine barrels at Lot 100.

The open plan tasting pavilion.

A facility of this size needs significant resources to keep it operating, and its designers have addressed sustainability and efficiency issues at every step of its construction and operation.

The most expensive shed on the property is also the smallest – a $750,000 water treatment facility that extracts water from two bores, removes its salts and minerals via reverse osmosis, then feeds it into the shed for use by each beverage producer. Wastewater is fed back into the system, treated and then used to irrigate crops, grass and trees, including the Ceravolo family’s adjacent orchard, which produces fruit for Hills Cider and Ashton Valley Fresh Juices.

Spent grain from the distillation process is recycled as feed for local livestock and used in the Lot 100 kitchen to bake bread. Electricity used on the site is provided by 1700 square metres of solar panels, creating a sizeable a solar farm on the production shed roof.

While the visiting public doesn’t see this, they do get to sample a huge array of drinks in the company of food within the adjacent tasting pavilion. A bar with 40 taps is designed to swiftly serve big numbers of visitors, with 30 pouring Mismatch beers, six for Hills Cider and four for Adelaide Distillery spritz.

Pizzas are on the menu at Lot 100, as are smaller roasted dishes, local produce plates and pastas.

Adelaide design company Frame (which creates product labels for Mismatch and Adelaide Hills Distillery) has dressed the cellar door interior with raw timber slats rising to the high ceiling and polished-concrete floors. This room opens to broad timber decks and rolling lawns that accommodate many more diners and drinkers under the shade of towering gum trees.

A sustainability message follows through to food served in the cellar door dining area, prepared by chefs Shannon Fleming (formerly of Adelaide’s esteemed Restaurant Orana) and Tom Bubner (of Pizza e Mozzarella and Chicken & Pig). The menu is built around a relaxed Italian style of eating – from pizza to pasta and roasted treats from a wood-fired oven, but the intention is to place locally sourced ingredients on a pedestal.

More plans for Lot 100 are already in motion. Hop plants are growing, so their flowers can eventually be used in Mismatch beers, while a kitchen garden will provide a range of vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, to keep reducing the distance from paddock to plate. An eventual aim is for the cellar door to include produce sales as well as beverages – “a one-stop shop for everything delicious,” as Toby Klein explains.

The makers of 78 Degrees Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery, operates at Lot 100.

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Shiraz stamps the identity of gin from the Barossa

Australian craft gin producers have made their mark by embracing locally sourced botanicals as their defining flavours. For Seppeltsfield Road Distillers to create its own point of difference, this has meant taking a different route by embracing signature grape varieties of the neighbouring Barossa Valley wine industry.

When the boutique distilling company opened its doors to customers in late September 2018, its small range of gins included an unusual shiraz gin.

The husband and wife ownership team of distiller Nicole Durdin and general manager Jon Durdin considered that shiraz was a true Barossa flavour signature, so they went to revered boutique winemaker Dave Lehmann, proprietor of David Franz Wines, to forge a collaboration.

The Barossa Shiraz Gin.

Dave sourced about 400kg of handpicked shiraz from the Stonewell Cottages vineyard, macerating whole bunches of grapes in gin, which combined the rich plum and blackberry flavours of shiraz with subtle hints of juniper, orange and cinnamon.

It’s an idea borrowed from UK sloe gin production, but does not require any added sugar due to the intense, complete flavour profile of ripe Barossa shiraz.

Jon says Seppeltsfield Road Distillers initially considered this a small batch experiment, but its immediate popularity (900 bottles from the 2018 vintage sold out within eight weeks) set the Durdins to think this union of wine flavours and distillation was a winning concept that could be expanded.

Now, as grapes for the 2019 vintage are starting to be harvested, Seppeltsfield Road Distillers is not only planning a second batch of shiraz gin, but has also made available a second wine-accented gin, using semillon grapes – arguably the Barossa Valley’s signature white wine variety.

The Seppeltsfield Road Distillers team, Bec Henderson, left, Nicole Durdin, Jon Durdin and Scott McCarthy. Photo by John Krüger.

Sourced from Hamish Seabrook’s boutique Seabrook Winery at Vine Vale, outside Tanunda, the grapes were probably going to be left to rot on the vine, until the Durdins used them in a daring experiment, leaving the liquor to macerate on grape skins for eight weeks to extract maximum colour and flavour.

“It has such lovely, unique colour for a gin – like a beautiful barrel-aged fortified wine,” explains Jon. “And because of its sweetness from the lush semillon fruit, this gin is the most amazing cocktail ingredient.”

Interested tasters will need to make a hasty beeline for the distillery’s cellar door on Seppeltsfield Road, as only 700 bottles were produced and are selling briskly. Customer waiting lists are already being compiled for the 2019 shiraz and semillon gins, which are likely to be available from late June.

Barossa signatures attached to Seppeltsfield Road Distillery gins continue through the distinctive product labels and company logo, featuring the striking mandala artwork of Barossa artist Janelle Amos.

Seppeltsfield Road Distillers’ three house gins. Photo by John Krüger.

Having been smitten by her original works that involve arranging intricate circular patterns from various plants, fruits and food ingredients, the Durdins commissioned Janelle to create a mandala featuring the various ingredients of their signature gin.

This design has become the basis of all their gin labels, while the original photographic print of the fruit and botanicals mandala made by Janelle now hangs proudly behind the tasting bar at Seppeltsfield Road Distillers.

The appeal of these limited release gins is drawing huge numbers of people to the tasting room on Seppeltsfield Road, with an estimated 20,000 visitors in the business’s initial five months.

The business headquarters has embraced a striking architectural concept, using repurposed shipping containers clad in rich timbers to house the tasting rooms that flank a large glass-encased tower dominated by a tall German-built still.

It’s affectionately called Christine, in honour of Nicole’s forthright grandmother, taking on the mantle as the “hardest-working German lady in the Barossa” says Nicole.

The still and production process can be viewed through the glass frontage.

Having the gleaming still and production process in clear sight – even to motorists driving past the site – has proved an instant attraction, and has certainly enticed visitors to sit for a tutored tasting of the three house gin styles: Barossa Dry, which is a classic juniper style gin with pink peppercorns, lavender, and cornflowers; House Gin, which is a sweet and bright citrusy concoction that has been very appealing to self-confessed “non-gin fans”; and Savoury Allsorts, which uses star anise, licorice root and fresh thyme for a highly fragrant gin.

Seppeltsfield Road Distiller’s success has been underlined by a suite of international and national gin awards, but it has been a long road for the Durdins to reach this point.

Seventh-generation Barossan Nicole was previously a musician, playing the French horn in the SA Police Band, and later for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, travelling the world for performances, while Jon was a financial analyst who ended up in the UK steering a corporate acquisition by a UK defence company.

Their return to the Barossa – to specifically make gin in a high-profile location that would attract tourism attention – was always designed to make maximum impact, and their wine-influenced gins is a potent focal point of that attention.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Bottling the nation’s best gin

South Australia is aiming to become the gin capital of the nation as 27 craft distillers produce dozens of award-winning bottles and create their own industry association.

Last month, Adelaide was also host to the Australian Distillers Association conference with its finale event held at the Prohibition Liquor Company Tasting Room in Gilbert Street where its owners showcase gins from across the state.

“We serve 40 plus SA gins,” says co-owner Adam Carpenter, adding that the new state industry association also held its first event at the same venue in August.

“We’ve been trying to own the title of the gin state, there are more distillers in other states but they don’t work together as collaboratively as we do, that’s where we have a real strength.”

The Prohibition Liquor Company Tasting Room on Gilbert Street, Adelaide.

It’s been a rapid growth story for the SA industry and the Prohibition Liquor Company started by Adam Carpenter and Wes Heddles in 2015 has been riding the wave.

The two have a range of five core gins along the selection, including the Original and the 69% proof Bathtub Cut Gin – “1% higher and it’s officially a dangerous liquid” – both winning a swag of national and international awards.

Adam and Wes opened their tasting room and bar a year ago to showcase their own gins produced at Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills, along with 90 others from around Australia and the world.

They have educational gin tasting flights with many locally crafted brands rotating through the SA version. Adelaide Hills Distillery is in the mix at the moment, a clear sign of Adam and Wes’s commitment to supporting other craft distillers.

Their inclusion marks Adelaide Hills Distillery opening its own tasting and bar venue Lot 100 near Nairne this month. For Adam, it makes sense to work together to jointly promote the state’s rich offerings.

“SA logically is one of the best places in the world to produce gin, first of all most of us use grape-based spirit and we have access to some of the best in the world,” he says.

“Then we have that quality in the gin coming from the best botanical ingredients, some of the best Riverland citrus, we use Adelaide Hills lavender and there’s a whole range of bush ingredients.”

On the bush ingredient side, Something Wild and Adelaide Hills Distillery are making Australian Green Ant Gin with the unique bush tucker hand harvested in the Northern Territory by the Motlop family of the Larrakia people and the product handcrafted and bottled in the Adelaide Hills.

Ambleside Distillers in Hahndorf produces Kifaru Gin using native botanicals found at Monarto including mintbush and wattleseed – with money from bottles sold supporting threatened Southern White Rhinos.

Ambleside’s Kifaru Gin, in collaboration with Monarto Zoo.

While Kangaroo Island Spirits forages for native juniper on Kangaroo Island for its award-winning Native Gin, also using fresh limes from nearby Fleurieu Peninsula.

Some of those capitalising on the state’s top quality fruit include Rowland Short in McLaren Vale. He uses Japanese native yuzu being grown for the first time in the Riverland, bottling under the Settler’s Gin label.

And Twenty Third Street Distillery – owned by the Bickford’s Group and based in the old Renmano winery in Renmark – has created an award-winning Signature Gin with “tiny explosions of Riverland sunshine”, using local mandarin and lime.

It’s an industry daring to be different, and Prohibition Liquor Co is keen to continue being at the forefront. This month, the company is installing Adelaide CBD’s first functioning and visible distillery at its Gilbert Street venue.

The gin bar at Prohibition Liquor Co.

Red Hen Gin uses a copper column still for its London Dry Style gin in the city but it’s not on display. Adam says the new still will be used to make existing gins along with some new offerings crafted on site.

Prohibition Liquor Co gins are now distributed nationally through Dan Murphy’s stores along with other independent bottle shops, online and the business is exporting to New Zealand and Singapore.

Adam says the new year will see an even greater focus on expanding exports along with the two continuing to build strong relationships with other SA gin makers. Wes is treasurer for their new industry association.

“We were about the fifth on the market in SA when we started out, now there’s 27 or 28, it was all starting to emerge in 2015 but it’s just exploded in the last three years,”  he says.

“We have been working together well as an industry on an informal basis since about 2016 but as more and more emerge we are bringing them into the fold, we’re sharing the knowledge so everyone benefits.”

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Sink or swim gin bid floats

You simply can’t bottle incredible South Australian experiences. Or can you?

Divers who plunge into the pristine depths of Kilsby Sinkhole in the Limestone Coast will soon be able to toast their adventurous spirits with a glass of Sinkhole Gin crafted from the limestone-filtered water.

Brothers Graham and Ben Kilsby are the sinkhole custodians taking immersive experiences to new levels in partnership with gin-loving friends Stuart Edwards and Kris Hamilton.

The Kilsby Sinkhole is world renowned as one of the best sinkhole diving spots. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

Long-term fans of home-brewing, the four mates saw an opportunity to create SA’s newest craft gin with a distinct local flavour.

“We thought how amazing it would be to use the water from the sinkhole – the purest water in Australia – to make the gin,” Ben says.

Tucked away on the farming property that has been in Ben’s family for four generations, the 65m-deep Kilsby Sinkole is rated among the world’s best cave-diving sites due to its exceptional water clarity.

The four men behind the Sinkhole Gin. Photo by Kate Hill.

Diversifying into eco-tourism was the first exciting move for the prime lamb producers, with up to 2000 visitors from around the globe now flocking to their property 15km out of Mt Gambier each year.

Now, they’re poised to make a splash in the drinks trade after 12 months of dedicated research.

“To a gin lover, the whole experience from aroma to palate is paramount and we got very involved in the whole process,” Ben says.

Designed to champion the Limestone Coast region, the gin takes its main flavour profile from muntries – a tiny native cranberry, or ‘emu apple’, which grows wild along the rugged coastline.

A bird’s eye view of the Kilsby Sinkhole. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

“It’s got a type of rhubarb-apple crumble flavour to it, and we’ve also added local honey, a little juniper, lime zest, lemon myrtle – we’ve got almost 20 ingredients each playing a role, and the result is something that is fresh and floral and unique to this region,” Ben says.

In order to guarantee future batch consistency, the Kilsbys have now planted a muntrie crop of their own surrounding the sinkhole. Yes – they’re thinking big, spurred on by Limestone Coast locals who immediately threw their support behind a sink or swim crowdfunding campaign on Pozible, raising close to $30,000 towards the venture.

“If the interest wasn’t there, we would have scrapped the idea, but the first batch has already been pre-sold and we’re expecting delivery prior to Christmas,” Ben says. “It’s going to be a really fun gin to put on the table.”

The Sinkhole Gin.

Pre-orders are now flowing for batch number two, with restaurants and bars also lining up for stock. A limoncello characterised by the bold, robust flavours of local farmhouse lemons is also in the pipeline, but the ultra-pure water will always be the hero ingredient.

“This is just a really fun way for us to be able to celebrate our natural attractions in a completely different way, to a completely new market,” Ben says.

“The Mt Gambier region is known worldwide in diving circles, but people as close as Adelaide don’t realise what assets we have beyond the Blue Lake, so we think this is the perfect pairing.”

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Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Barossa Valley gin distilling dreams become reality

It took a career crisis and a curiosity for gin making for ex-policewoman and classical musician Nicole Durdin to turn to the world of distilling in the Barossa Valley.

Nicole and her husband Jon were living in the UK when a desire to move home and delve into something starkly different to their professions took over.

This weekend the South Australian pair will celebrate the opening of Seppeltsfield Road Distillers (SRD), the Barossa Valley’s first commercial distillery.

“We were in the UK for Jon’s work (as a finance director), and I went over as a freelance musician expecting that work would be easy to find ,but it didn’t quite turn out that way,” says head distiller Nicole, who also spent 10 years in the police force.

“I was having a career crisis and needed something to focus on … we knew that we would come back to the Barossa, that was our plan.”

Nicole, left, and Jon Durdin. Photo by John Krüger.

Nicole, a French horn player with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, is a seventh-generation Barossa local whose ancestors were among the first to settle in the Barossa Valley.

Her great-grandfather was one of the first coopers at Seppeltsfield, while her grandfather, uncle and father are all involved in the wine industry.

Nicole says she and her husband had toyed with the idea of falling into the wine industry, “but didn’t want to be tied down to the seasonality”.

So they put the idea on the back-burner, heading to the UK.

One day Jon suddenly flagged the idea of gin making – and the pair were hooked.

“Jon just said to me, ‘why don’t you make gin?’ It just came out of his mouth,” Nicole says.

“We knew nothing about gin other than we liked to drink it. But I started doing some research. The industry in Australia was still really small at that stage, and over 12 months we planned and studied.”

Nicole then flew back to SA from the UK to look at a block of land, turning their distant Barossa dreams into reality.

Seppeltsfield Road Distillers will open in the Barossa Valley in September. Photo by John Krüger.

The pair now live in Tanunda, with their small-batch boutique distillery at home along the palm-tree lined Seppeltsfield Road.

Visitors to SRD are first greeted by the sight of the German-made still where all the magic happens.

“The first thing you see when you arrive on site is the still. Being in the Barossa, people love the idea of knowing how things are made,” Nicole says.

“Our first goal is just to make really good gin, but we also want to help educate people on how gin is made, so we’d like to include tours and gin-blending masterclasses.”

SRD has launched a trio of gins made with a range of botanicals sourced from the Barossa where possible.

The distillery uses a grape spirit base from the Barossa Valley’s Tarac Technologies, Australia’s largest producer of high-quality grape spirit.

Botanicals including pink pepper corn and lavender are sourced from as close as down the road.

First up is the Barossa Dry, “a take on the traditional London Dry Gin” with clean juniper and coriander notes and a pinch of peppercorn and lavender.

Photo by John Krüger.

The Savoury Allsorts features star anise, liquorice root, fresh thyme, marjoram, borage, and gentian.

The House Gin is recommended for drinkers not quite sold on the taste of gin, as it has subtler hints of juniper, while chamomile, lavender and cinnamon add sweetness and warmth.

The gins have already scooped a number of awards, including the House Gin which won silver and the Barossa Gin which won bronze at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London.

The House Gin has also been awarded a gold medal at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition.

SRD will make its public debut at a sold out gin blending class as part of the Barossa Gourmet Weekend on September 1.

On September 2 SRD will set up a pop-up gin bar for the ‘Gin & Jams’ event at The Greenock.

Visitors can explore SRD from September 3. Check the website for opening hours.

Header photo features tasting room manager Bec Henderson, left, gin distiller Nicole Durdin, general manager Jon Durdin and brand ambassador Scott McCarthy.

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Awards keep pouring in for Prohibition Liquor Co

Small batch gin producer Prohibition Liquor Co has scooped more than 20 awards across the globe in the past two years, but it was a recent gong awarded here in Adelaide which had its co-founders feeling most nervous.

Prohibition scored a gold and bronze medal at the Tasting Australia Spirit Awards in Adelaide earlier this month, just a day after taking two gongs on the other side of the world.

Its Original gin won gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition while its 69% Bathtub Cut gin took silver.

This year’s competition hit a record 2253 entries from all corners of the world.

Prohibition Original Gin, Meaghan Coles Photography.

“San Francisco is a huge event with thousands of entries, so a great one for us to collect gold and silver medals,” says Prohibition co-founder Adam Carpenter.

“But in a way I was more nervous about the event here in Adelaide.

“We’ve won more than 20 awards all over the world in the past two years, but this is the first time we have been able to enter an event in our hometown Adelaide.”

The inaugural Tasting Australia Spirit Awards attracted 166 entries from 63 distilleries across Australia.

The Grove Distillery (WA), White Light Beverages (VIC) Adelaide Hills Distillery (SA), St Agnes Distillery (SA), The Craft & Co (VIC) took out the top honours.

Meaghan Coles Photography.

Prohibition’s other half, Wes Heddles, says the San Francisco and Tasting Australia wins highlight how world class spirits are being made here in South Australia.

“We’ve won medals at every awards show we’ve ever entered,” he says.

“It’s been a bit of a dream run for Prohibition since early 2016 with our first win in the Melbourne International Spirits Competition, followed by Hong Kong, New York, London and Las Vegas.

“A double gold last year in Las Vegas was a huge moment for us too, and the fact that both gins have been recognised all over the world shows that we are on the right track with the product and the ability to expand our export markets.”

The Gilbert Street distillery door and tasting room. Meaghan Coles Photography.

In December 2017, Prohibition opened Adelaide’s first CBD distillery door on Gilbert Street, offering gin flights to visitors.

“We have over 60 gins on the shelf and we can tell you a unique story about all of them,” Adam says.

“This is just not a Prohibition gin house, it is a true SA and Australian craft spirit showcase – many of which we have been given by the makers with the story to share about what makes them unique too.”

The distillery door and tasting room also offers local craft beers, wines and local produce, including antipasto plates and gourmet toasties.

Meaghan Coles Photography.

Prohibition’s gin is still contract-distilled at Applewood Distillery in Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills.

However, Adam and Wes say they plan to have a still operating at the Gilbert Street location to supplement production by the end of 2018.

“We already bottle and distribute from Gilbert Street, but it won’t be long until we have a beautiful still running, for additional production here,” Wes adds.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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Family-owned distillery lures gin lovers to Hahndorf

An Adelaide Hills family’s curiosity for the world of gin making has led to the establishment of Hahndorf’s first distillery.

Steve, Trudy and son Matt Dickson are behind Hahndorf tasting room and small-batch distillery, Ambleside Distillers, which is already quenching thirsts around town.

All three family members come from different industries, with Matt in construction, Trudy running a recruitment agency and Steve holding 35 years of experience in the health sector.

But it was a six-month trip to the UK that opened Matt’s eyes to the world of gin making, prompting the family to have a shot at launching a distillery and tasting room.

Matt Dickson was inspired to explore gin making after time spent in the UK.

“There was this whole gin revival in London and it wasn’t just about the standard London dry gin, I experienced many boutique gins and just fell in love with it,” Matt says.

“Mum and Dad also visited the UK and when we were back in Australia we introduced ourselves to many of the boutique gins, made with really good tonic water and garnishes.

“For us it was about creating gins we loved and that were of a very high quality and taste that hopefully many others would enjoy.”

With Matt’s experience in the construction industry, the Dicksons built the tasting room and distillery on the family’s property on the corner of Mount Barker and Ambleside roads.

Ambleside has three signature gin styles, crafted on site.

The tasting room’s fit out is simple and modern, incorporating textures such as brickwork and timber.

Crafted and hand-bottled on site are three signature styles, the Big Dry Gin, No. 8 Botanical Gin and Small Acre Gin.

Ambleside Distillers grows some of the botanicals on the property, including thyme and rosemary, while other flavours including jalapeno and citrus are sourced locally where possible.

Matt says that while wine is one of South Australia’s most dominant industries, the family wanted to get in on the state’s blossoming spirit scene.

Platters featuring local produce can be enjoyed with a gin cocktail, overlooking Hahndorf’s rural landscape.

He says the Adelaide Hills region was also cementing itself as one of the premier food and wine areas on offer to visitors.

“Each of the regions is really booming and the Hills is really coming into its own,” Matt says.

“We wanted to get in line with the other businesses in Hahndorf, because if you’re planning a trip to the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is where you want to be headed.

“This was an opportunity for us to become a part of a different section of the food and beverage industry, not just wine.”

Steve says the state’s distilling scene had welcomed the Ambleside operation with open arms.

“We’ve had four different distillers visit us and say ‘welcome to the family, it’s good to have you on board’,” he says.

Ambleside Distillers offers platters featuring local cheeses and produce that can be enjoyed on the deck.

Curious about how it all works? The distilling equipment is in view from the tasting room.

Ambleside Distillers is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am–6pm.

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Barossa barrel-aged gin released

A barrel-aged gin with whisky-like toffee and caramel characters is being launched in Australia’s most famous wine region – the Barossa Valley.

The Barossa Distilling Company is releasing a limited edition gin, which has spent seven months in tawny port barrels.

It is the company’s third gin following the release of the Generations Gin in 2016 and its Budburst pink gin later that year.

The barrels originally held Barossa red wine and then spent eight years ageing Tawny Port before being cut down to 100 litres at a local cooper, oak charred to a crocodile char and filled with Generations Gin.

The same style barrels were also sourced to make the company’s first whisky, which is still at least 12 months away from release.

Barossa Distilling managing director Neil Bullock says the gin was barrel-aged in the same way as whisky is traditionally matured.

“Back in the old days they would store the gin in an oak barrel in a ship’s ballast and effectively by the time it got to its destination it would have been barrel aged, depending on how far the journey was,” he says.

“It’s confusing to the palate in a way because it’s got a little bit of a whisky characteristic – it’s very much a gin but it sits somewhere between the two in terms of the flavour profile it’s delivering and you get those toffee and honey characteristics that you would find in a Speyside style sherry or port cask finished whisky.

“It’s a cracking sipping gin, over ice it’s just beautiful but we have tried it here with a splash of dry ginger ale and a bit of fresh lime squeezed over the glass.”

The 40 per cent abv Barrel-Aged Gin is $125 for a 700ml bottle and is available through the Barossa Distilling Company website or at its cellar door in the Old Penfolds Distillery building in Nuriootpa.

“I took a bottle out a few weeks ago and we’ve been doing tastings of it over the bar here and 100% of the feedback has been ‘wow, that’s incredible’ so we’re quite excited to get it out,” Neil says.

Gin is the star attractions at “The Distillery”, the tasting room and craft spirits bar the company opened permanently in the iconic distillery in August.

The original Penfolds distillery was built in 1913 and for almost a century produced brandy and fortified wines for one of Australia’s most famous wineries.

Neil says the rooms, featuring old stills, 10m-high ceilings and an original cast iron spiral staircase, provide the ideal setting for people wanting an alternative to wine.

“Once people have done their wine tasting they’re very keen for a bit of a palate cleanser and something a little bit different. They can walk in here and try our spirits or simply sit down to enjoy a cocktail or a gin and tonic,” he says.

“People walk in through the doors and they stop about a metre inside the building and say ‘oh wow’ because it is a magnificent space.”

The Distillery is open seven days, 11am–5pm Sunday to Thursday and 11am–8pm Friday and Saturday. It also serves local beers, artisan Barossa wines, tasting platters and a range of other local and imported spirits.

Header image: Martin Ritzmann.

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Carters create wine and gin with a difference

By Melissa Keogh

Adelaide Hills couple Brendan and Laura Carter have pursued a life of passion for quenching thirsts and satisfying even the most cultured of gin drinkers and wine sippers.

Aside from creating some of the most adventurous drops to hit South Australia’s craft beverage scene, the pair is helping maintain the spirits of grape growers across the region.

The Carters run Australia’s only remaining grape-grower’s co-operative label, Harvest, allowing local growers to improve returns on their crops during poor harvests.

Any grower within a 5km radius can deliver their grapes “rain, hail or shine”.

“If we’re in a disease-driven year then we just have to work harder to make bloody good wine,” Brendan says.

“If it doesn’t work out we can still pay them for the grapes and move them to the distillery and turn it into coffee liqueur.”

Laura, 26, and Brendan, 27, are leading South Australia's innovative distilling scene.

Laura, 26, and Brendan, 27, are leading South Australia’s innovative distilling scene.

Operating all their ventures from a 1920s cold stores in Gumeracha, Brendan, 27, and Laura, 26, are also behind Ochre Nation bar, wine label Unico Zelo, and Applewood Distillery.

From Ochre Nation the Carters use native ingredients to create premium, sustainable beverages made from fruit varieties that require minimum irrigation and intervention.

Earlier this year Applewood had foodies in a spin with the limited release of a gin infused with native green ants.

Another big hit has been the Økar, an aperitif made from riberries which are a tart, indigenous fruit.

Whether it’s ant-infused gin or using native jarrah to mature wine and whisky, the distilling duo have set out to create “the most Australian businesses possible”.

Break down their business model and it’s quite simple – just use what you’ve got.

When most winemakers would sob into their oak barrels over a smoke-tainted harvest, the Carters lift spirits by turning it into coffee liqueur.

When a 150-year-old orchard in Montacute Valley spits out a crop of “ugly” disfigured lemons that would otherwise go to waste, the Carters turn it into limoncello.

This waste-not-want-not ethos has led the Carters to be leaders of the beverage game and walking encyclopedias of their industry.

Applewood, Harvest and Unico Zelo products are produced at Gumeracha.

Applewood, Harvest and Unico Zelo products are produced at Gumeracha.

Aside from passion, the pair also has an unwavering commitment to South Australia and say their success would have been impossible to achieve elsewhere.

“SA has such a close proximity to quality produce that it really allows primary producers and value-adding enterprises to thrive,” Brendan says.

“Not to mention the sheer sense of camaraderie that binds all the producers together.”

Both were born in the eastern states but studied in Adelaide – Brendan winemaking and Laura agriculture.

“We have one of the best winemaking colleges in the world,” Brendan says.

“We churn out some of the most amazingly talented winemakers globally.”

Applewood gin makes the most of native Australian botanicals.

Applewood gin makes the most of native Australian botanicals.

The Carters are predicting a boom in state’s craft beverage industry.

“I think it’s entirely reasonable to think that SA (beverage industry), in particular the distilling industry, could quite realistically steamroll the global industry in the next 20 years,” Brendan says.

“With the right management and the right assistance, for sure.”

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