Bottoms up: the best Queensland craft distilleries
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
Gin lover? This one’s for you.
Mount Uncle Distillery’s Botanic Australis Gin packs a peppery punch. It follows an original dry gin recipe, adding 14 native botanicals including the bunya nut.
Taste your way through their award-winning selection at the cellar door to discover the range of spirits that showcase local and national Aussie ingredients. 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? The tasting room is open daily from 10am-4pm. Wash down your visit with this itinerary if you’re keen to explore more of the Atherton Tablelands.
2. Mount Tamborine Distillery
Introducing the Michael Phelps of Queensland craft distilleries, Mount Tamborine. It’s got 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.
This spot 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. 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. Pick your flavours – or 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
Want to become a master blender?
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. Take the behind-the-scenes tour to learn the brewing basics, before a tasting session at the bar.
For a unique experience, book yourself in for a Blend Your Own Rum experience to craft your own unique blend to take home!
4. Kalki Moon
Bundaberg is home to more than just rum. Born out of Bundy’s cane fields, Kalki Moon burst onto the scene in 2017 with clear spirits – think gin, vodka and liqueurs – and they’re already snapping up awards.
And behind the copper stills you’ll find master distiller and blender Rick Prosser, who runs the business with his family.
While they might only be serving clear drops from their Commercial St. cellar door for now, their highly anticipated rum will launch mid-2020.
How to do it? Free guided tours and tastings are available daily. Balance out the booze by exploring the region’s booming food scene.
5. Fortune Noosa Heads Distillery
After you’ve had your fill of the beach, dive into the backstreets of Noosaville for a change of pace.
Parked inside brewery Land & Sea, Fortune is the new kid on the block of Queensland craft distilleries. And they’re producing some truly unique gins, including a Asian-botanical lead collaboration with popular local restaurant Sum Yung Guys, as well as a peppered strawberry gin.
How to do it? Take a tour that combines the brewery and distillery. Then tuck into a lunch on-site before exploring more of Noosa’s dining scene.
6. Beenleigh Artisan Distillers
Would you jump out of this post and into an Uber 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?
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 and 10-Year-Old Rum.
Each and every drop is aged (gracefully of course) in handmade oak barrels, best served neat.
7. Granddad Jack’s
Introduce yourself to the Gold Coast’s first craft distillery.
Founded by the grandson and great-grandson of THE Granddad Jack, spirits here are crafted from 90-year old family recipes and new flavours.
Distillery tours kick off with a gin & tonic on arrival, and after you learn the history you’ll score complimentary tastings of three flagship gins.
Keen to craft your own? Sign up for a monthly make-your-own gin class!
8. Milton Rum Distillery
Want to sip craft rum cocktails with a side of Cuban salsa?
You can do just that at Brisbane bar The Malecon. This 1930’s Cuban inspired bar is the HQ of Milton Rum Distillery, and it’s tucked away from the action of nearby Caxton Street precinct.
Sample the New Make Cane Spirit (a new one crafted each week!) or choose from a huge selection of cocktails and rare rum flights from around the globe.
While the bar is new to Brisbane’s nightlife, the history of the distillery dates back far longer.
Founded in 1870, Milton Distillery was one of the first Australian distilleries to use a rectifying pot still to handcraft rum. Some 150 years later, The Malecon team dip into history, using traditional and pot-stills to create their award winning rum!
How to do it? Catch sunset from one of the city’s spectacular vantage points, then head to The Malecon for a few cocktails and local jazz music. How to find it? Look for the red light.