6 of the best micro distilleries and craft spirits in Queensland
There’re plenty of ways to describe Queensland, but spirited is one of the best.
Up and down the coast, you’ll find creative distillers who’ve found a way to transform forgotten fruits and botanicals into gin, rum, liqueur and whiskey in the most delicious form of recycling.
1. Mount Uncle Distillery
Calling all gin lovers, this one is for you.
Mount Uncle Distillery’s Botanic Australis Gin packs a peppery punch. It follows an original dry gin recipe, adding secret native botanicals including the bunya nut.
Not only do they sell from their Walkamin (Atherton Tablelands) base, online and cellar doors across Australia, Mount Uncle Distillery sells into gin’s hometown, London, and expects to export four times more this coming year.
At their cellar door you can taste your way through their award-winning selection and see where the magic happens as you clap eyes on ‘Helga’ the 1500ltr copper pot still, along with all the baby-gins brewing in the barrel room.
Wearing the crown of Australia’s most northern distillery, it’s well worth the visit for gin aficionados wanting to add that fun fact to their brag book. There’s also vodka, rum, whiskey and a liqueur called Sexy Cat well worth sampling.
How to do it? Wash down a visit to one of North Queensland’s first distilleries with this itinerary if you’re keen to explore more of the Atherton Tablelands.
2. Mount Tamborine Distillery
Introducing the Michael Phelps of distilleries, Mount Tamborine Distillery, with accolades for its spirits from every corner of the world (Chigaco, San Fransisco, London, Belgium, Germany and Austria to be precise) and the trophy shelf in its cellar door to prove it.
Of course, one of the biggest ironies of this distillery on Mount Tamborine is that the two owners, Alla and Michael Ward, don’t even drink.
This distillery on the mountain started like most good distillery stories do – in 1993 with an orchard, excess fruit and a Russian owner who knew how to make a true schnapps.
The rest is history – and today there’s over 60 varieties of gin, grappa, liqueur and schnapps in their range and tasting tours for you to drink the fruits of their labour.
A tasting tour will set you back $5 and give you a taste of five different drops. You can pick the flavours – but better yet, let the bartenders show you what’s popular.
How to do it? Tie your stop in at Mount Tamborine Distillery into this dream weekend itinerary. Just remember to draw short straws on who’s driving.
3. Bundaberg Rum
Okay, it might be the only mainstream entry on this list because you’ll find it in any Aussie bottle-o, but don’t dismiss this boutique distiller as bigger than their boots.
Unlike the other distilleries where you come, you taste, you buy – Bundaberg Rum is set up for pirates and rum aficionados alike, with a behind-the-scenes tour that lets you in on the brewing basics. The tour wraps up with a tasting at the bar to sample the rums on offer, including the world’s best rum edition. And you can even blend your own!
Of course, you can make like a true Queenslander and combine Bundaberg’s favourite drink exports, ginger beer and rum, into one delicious drink with a Dark and Stormy.
How to do it? Explore this rum-soaked town with this 48-hour guide.
Bundaberg is home to more than just rum. Kalkimoon has burst onto the distilleries scene with clear spirits – think gin, vodka and liqueurs.
While they might only be serving clear drops from their Commercial St. cellar door for now, the company expects to launch into whiskies, brandies and craft beers in the New Year.
While you’re waiting for the fortifieds to come online, make your own Bundaberg beverage trail starting with wine in Childers, The Bundaberg Barrel, Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Baffle Beer Brewery and of course, Kalkimoon for a taste of Queensland. BYO designated driver!
How to do it? Balance out the booze by exploring this bountiful region’s food scene.
5. Beenleigh Artisan Distillers
What if we told you there’s rum being stilled on the banks of the Albert River 30 minutes from the heart of Brisbane’s CBD? Would you jump out of this post and order an Uber? We know we would.
Thanks to a new Visitor Information Centre, Beenleigh Artisan Distillers is new to the tourism scene but old in the brewing one. In fact, it’s the oldest registered rum distillery in Australia.
With $25 in your pocket you can enjoy a tour and tasting with two options to suit your palette. There’s one for the purists which includes the Classic Selection – White Rum, Copper-pot Distilled Rum, Double Barrel 5-year-old, Honey Rum Liqueur and Traditional Rum Liqueur. Or the Distiller’s Selection which includes Cane Cutter Vodka, Bourbon Barrel Aged Rum, Spiced Rum, Port Barrel Infused Rum, 10-Year-Old Rum.
Each and every drop is aged (gracefully of course) in handmade oak barrels, best served neat.
6. Wild River Mountain Distillery
The new kid on the distilleries blocks is Wild River Mountain Distillery. Their establishment date might read 2017, but it’s taken a lifetime of experience to get their whiskeys and gins just right.
Set on the banks of the Wild River, it uses local botanicals best defined by the distillery’s high elevation.
The Atherton Tableland’s climate and elevation create perfect distilling conditions, while cooler temps cocoon their precious cargo through the barrel ageing process.
Their signature gin, 1875 Australian Gin, hits a high native flavour note with quandong berries adding to the juniper berry base.
How to do it? Let your fingers do the walking! While there’s no cellar door, yet, you can shop their gin online. Perhaps it’s time for a little present to yourself?