Gin state: The ultimate guide to South Australia’s hottest spirit

Gin state: The ultimate guide to South Australia’s hottest spirit

Gin Guide

Text: Noelle Faulkner

It’s not just about the elixir of the vines down south. Here's everything you need to know about SA’s distillery scene

Despite being known for its epic cheese and wine scene, South Australia also has been hiding a trendy little ace up its sleeve: Gin. White Satin. Juice of the poets. The Devil's left hand. Kill Grief. Blue Ruin. Mother's Milk. One of the most delicate and written-about white sprits of all time...

From the very cool Twenty Third Street distillery in the beautiful Riverland to the organic and totally green production by The Antipodes Gin Co and the internationally awarded Prohibition Liquor Co,  here is everything a gin connoisseur needs to know about South Australia's coolest drop (arguably the best in the country), where you can pop in for tastings and how you can sip your way around the state. BYO tonic.


Applewood Distillery, Adelaide Hills

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Attached to Unico Zelo Wines in the Adelaide Hills, Applewood is the creation of husband and wife team Brendan and Laura Carter. Proudly sourcing ingredients from what they refer to as "the land we belong to", the couple possess a deep passion and respect for the land, its traditional wonders and long-standing Aboriginal heritage, therefore they consciously promote the idea that we belong, not "own" the land. Which is a nice sentiment not often seen in this business. This results in remarkable spirits, from the signature Applewood Gin, inspired by springtime in the Adelaide Hills, to the barley-based Applewood Colonial Malt, the tasting notes for which reads: "Treat it like moonshine, drink with responsible gusto!".


24 Victoria Street, Gumeracha, about 50 minutes drive from Adelaide.


Kangaroo Island Spirits, Kangaroo Island

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A hop, skip, small-plane flight or car barge across the water from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island Spirits utilises wonderful environmentally sustainable practices to produce its premium rang - which includes the high-end mixologist favourtie, the multi-award-winning Wild Gin, created from local juniper.  Not to be one-trick-ponies, the brand's other flagship drops include O Gin, Old Tom Aged Gin, a seasonal Mulberry Gin and the intriguing Whiskey Barrel Gin. This distillery's "slow spirit" philosophy embodies a crafty choice of ingredients and careful process and standard policy, which again, plays to why connoisseurs and bartenders love this brand. If you don't visit the KIS cellar door on Kangaroo Island then you're doing it wrong. Hot tip: try the affogato....

856 Playford Hwy, Cygnet Rivet on Kangaroo Island, 35 minutes flight from Adelaide.

Red Hen Gin, Adelaide

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Curiously located where the city's infamous bootleggers operated in the 1880s, Red Hen is Adelaide's first city-based distillery. This small-batch, handcrafted gin pursues the classic London dry style, but with a local touch via native botanicals. According to co-owner Michael Vallelonga, the team of "gin-thusiasts" took two years to perfect the recipe. Red Hill classifies itself as "slightly juniper-forward with crisp citrus and earthy cassia notes," Vallelonga says. "We enjoy Fever-Tree Mediterranean and Schweppes tonic from a glass bottle but if you want to really treat yourself, add some muntrie berries, one of our star botanicals."

Red Hen is available from Red Hen online and is served locally in Adelaide and Adelaide Hills, including bars like  Mr GoodbarThe Archer and The Stirling Hotel.

Settlers Spirits, McLaren Vale

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Located within Rowland and Shelley Short's boutique Maximus Wines in McLaren Vale, Settlers Spirits is a hand-distilled and bottled artisan product created from grapes grown on the property, as part of the company's sustainable small-batch practice. Unlike the traditional grain-based gins, Settlers Sprits; gin is possesses a grape base, which presents as softer in the mouth and more floral - and despite the company's small team and small batch approach, it offers an incredibly varied and creative staple of spirits. Usinf vapour distillation to infuse the botanicals (including the South Australia-native muntrie berries from Coorong and lemon myrtle from Adelaide Hills), the sprit is  blended for peak aromatics and clean flavours. Settlers offer up a whopping 8 gins (as well as other spirits), including Fig Gin, Yuzu Gin (made from Australia's first commercial crop of Japanese citrus Yuzu), Oak Aged Gin and the cheekily named G & Tea (which is infused with Earl Grey tea, honey and lemon). 

197 Foggo Road, McLaren Vale - about 45 minutes drive from Adelaide

Encounter Coast Spirits, Victor Harbor

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Situated just outside Victor Harbor on the incredibly beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula, Encounter Coast Spirits is South Australia's only farm-based micro-distillery.  This makes visiting the cellar door a wonderful, personal time where visitors can have a great yarn about the process and the small distillery's story. While you're there, try the Fortune Teller Gin, which is based on cumquat citrus, or the Thymus Gin, which is infused with lemon thyme and notes of lavender. The working farm is also home to Irreverent Kitchen Australia, makers of a huge range of delicious local jams and condiments. Bring back a Bloody Mary chutney for me, please.

195 Cartwright Rd, Lower Inman Valley - 1 hour, 15 minutes drive from Adelaide.


Twenty Third Street, Renmark

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As mentioned in our Guide to the Riverland, Renmark's Twenty Third Street distillery was first built in 1914. Recently resurrected, this chic distillery cites "21st century technology" and "a spirit of anarchic invention" to create its "prime spirits for the liberated palate". Liberated palate? In. With two South Australian-built copper pot stills of the same vintage sitting front and centre, restored to their original glory, Twenty Third Street's delicious range features Signature Gin blended with 10 botanicals, Not Your Nanna's Brandy featuring fruity aromas, vanillin sweetness and soft oak spice and the delicate Riverland Rose Vodka infused with rose petals and other blooms. Join a tour and taste one of their epic drops on site at 11am, 1pm and 2pm daily ($25 per person). 

Corner of 23rd St and Renmark Ave, Renmark - about 3 hours drive from Adelaide.

Barossa Distilling Company, Barossa

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Barossa Distilling Company wanted to create a handcrafted gin that was as distinctly Barossa as its famous shiraz. Big ask? You'd think so. Yet, Generations Gin uses Barossa grapes as its sprit base, and is infused and distilled with 12 more botanicals. Not quite happy with the "Barossa" count, the makers decided to drop in more local overtones,  including toasted French oak and limited edition magnum bottles. Those in-the-know have their eyes on these guys as a brand to watch, why? Because on the drawing board are seasonal gins made with fresh, local ingredients including shiraz grapes and a plan to create a gin using botanicals found only on Krondorf Road in Tanunda.

Barossa Distilling Company can be found in boutique bottleshops and bars across Australia and at East End Cellars, Hains & Co, Barossa Brauhaus Hotel and The Clubhouse in South Australia.


Prohibition Liquor Co, Adelaide Hills

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Channelling the "spirit" of the eponymous 1920s American era (and in-line with Adelaide's moonshine history), Prohibition Liquor Co has created award-winning craft gins that bootleggers would be proud of. Prohibition Gin integrates 11 botanicals, including the unusual offerings of wormwood, pink peppercorns and green tea to generate a delicate, peppery palate and smooth finish. The fantastically named Bathtub Cut Gin (which won the prestigious New York International Sprits Competition last year, making it the nation's best FYI) ups the botanicals again to 13, and includes orris root, cassia bark, star anise and almonds, so expect a ballsy nose and juniper aniseed flavour that, despite its 69 per cent alcohol count, is surprisingly drinkable....  

Prohibition Liquor Co can be found in boutique bottleshops and bars across Australia and Alfred's BarBank Street Social and Mr Goodbar and at the Adelaide Central Market in South Australia.


The Antipodes Gin Co

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Shane Reid and Rory Gration created Antipodes Organic Gin out of a shared love of the spirit and a desire to make a carbon-neutral and organic product - gin you can feel good about drinking. They grew up in the pretty Sunraysia citrus region and have incorporated that area's sweet orange peel, lemon oil and native lemon myrtle as well as Tasmanian pepper berry, which they discovered provided a lingering warmth to the drink - this means it's often best served with a slice of blood orange or grapefruit. Triple distilled with native and traditional botanicals and refined with pure rainwater, it might be surprising to find that this is Australia's first certified organic gin.  Stay tuned for more organic variants.

The Antipodes Gin Co can be found in boutique bottleshops and bars around Australia and at East End CellarsThe Organik Store and Café and Southern Ocean Lodge in South Australia.

This story was created with the help of the South Australia Tourism Commission, for more reasons to spend time in South Australia, head here.  

Follow Noelle:

Instagram: @noelleflamingo
Twitter: @noelleflamingo 

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