Aussies love to have a drink, and with the rise of the country's craft spirits scene, who can blame them? Made in small batches by independently owned distilleries, Australian craft spirits often feature native ingredients, lending them a distinctive local flavour that's helped them gain fans (and awards) around the globe.
Here are 10 of the best micro-distilleries to add to your Australian itinerary.
Four Pillars, Victoria
As you drive from Melbourne to the grapevine-covered hills of the Yarra Valley, one of Victoria's premium wine destinations, you can't help but notice the giant shed-like building that houses Four Pillars distillery (fourpillarsgin.com.au). Inside, gaze at three gleaming copper stills (named after the founders' mums) while learning about this unique gin's ingredients (such as whole oranges and Tasmanian pepperberry) and tasting the final product. The oranges leftover from making the gin go into jars of marmalade – at last, it's OK to have something gin-related with breakfast!
Sullivans Cove, Tasmania
The trophies cabinet is full of gold at this whisky distillery, which nabbed the title of world's best single malt at the whisky equivalent of the Oscars in 2014 and which has won numerous other awards since. Distillery tours allow aficiandos to have a look behind the scenes and a dram or two of the ethereal stuff – it's like angels dancing on your tongue. Conveniently, the distillery (sullivanscovewhisky.com) is a short drive from Hobart Airport, so you can have a flight (tasting paddle) of whisky before you board your flight.
Kangaroo Island Spirits, Kangaroo Island
Set on an island known for its beautiful beaches, wilderness walks and wildlife, Kangaroo Island Spirits (kispirits.com.au) or KIS as it's affectionately known, makes award-winning gin. The vodkas taste as though the distillers have bottled the wild, fresh spirit of the island itself; the SLAP vodka (short for Samphire, Lime and Pepper) is a prime example of this. But it's the liqueurs that make people weak at the knees. The sublime Honey and Walnut liqueur regularly sells out, and with good reason – made with Kangaroo Island's out-of-this-world Ligurian honey, it's got as much wow-factor as the island itself.
Lark Distillery, Tasmania
Founder Bill Lark is known as the 'godfather of Australian whisky'. After realising Tasmania's pure water and highland peat bogs were ideal for making whisky, he helped overturn an archaic local law that had essentially banned distilling for more than a century, allowing him to set up his own distillery and kickstarting the country's craft spirits boom in the process. Toast Bill at Lark's cellar door – his lightly peated, slightly sweet whisky is a great way to kick off a night in Hobart's historic waterfront area.
The West Winds Gin, Western Australia
Featuring local ingredients such as lemon myrtle, wattle seed and Australian bush tomato, the gins from this Margaret River-based distillery are super modern, super Australian and pretty much super all round – and West Winds (thewestwindsgin.com) has a bunch of international awards to prove it. Several varieties are on offer; in each one, you can almost taste the fresh sea breezes that the brand was named after, along with bold combinations of savoury, in-your-face flavours. These gins have attitude!
McHenry Distillery, Tasmania
Ever wanted to make your own gin? You can do just that at the world's southern-most distillery, which runs gin-making workshops as well as selling its handcrafted gin, vodka and whisky. No time for a class? Then just try a glass. McHenry's (mchenrydistillery.com.au) classic dry gin displays well-balanced notes of coriander and orris root, or go for the sloe gin, made with locally foraged sloe fruit that lends the liquor a gorgeous ruby hue and a tart, plum-like flavour. The distillery is a 15-minute drive from Port Arthur Historic Site – combine the two for an easy day-trip from Hobart.
Bass and Flinders Distillery, Victoria
With its wealth of wineries, restaurants and farmgates (offering juicy cherries, goat's cheese, just-picked apples and more), the Mornington Peninsula is a foodie's paradise – and the beaches are brilliant, too. If you need a digestif after a long day of gluttony, try the zesty, refreshing limoncello or the heady, cognac-like Ochre (a grape spirit aged in French oak barrels) at Bass and Flinders (bassandflindersdistillery.com). For a taste of Asia try the Monsoon gin – with notes of lemongrass and ginger, it adds an exotic twist to a G&T.
Hoochery Distillery, Western Australia
Get the rum-down on the dark and delicious Ord River Rum at Hoochery Distillery (hoochery.com.au), which started humbly enough in an old shed and now has a vast cellar door that's more like an old-fashioned saloon. The distillery's in the Ord River Valley, part of The Kimberley, which is known for its rugged landscapes and rough terrain – unlike the rum, which is so smooth it was served at Noma during the acclaimed Danish restaurant's sell-out pop-up season in Sydney in 2016.
Mt Uncle Distillery, Queensland
Lush scenery, plentiful crops and a gourmet trail have led to the mountainous Atherton Tablelands being nicknamed the 'food bowl of the tropics'. But what's a food bowl without a drink? That's where Mt Uncle Distillery comes in. Set on a banana plantation that's also home to alpacas and peacocks, the distillery offers its caramel-y Iridium rum, spice-driven Black Cock whisky and sweet, blush-pink marshmallow liqueur at its relaxed cellar door.
23rd Street Distillery, Renmark, South Australia
This once famous distillery located in the heart of South Australia's citrus bowl is proving that not every fashionable distiller is a new-kid-on-the-block. Established in 1914 23rd Street Distillery (23rdstreetdistillery.com.
Archie Rose Distiling Co, Sydney
A distillery that's as serious about its design as it is about its spirits, Archie Rose (archierose.com.au) has taken an industrial chic fit-out and added a good splash of 'ginspiration', with gleaming copper surfaces and a wall of – what else? – spirit-ageing barrels separating the bar from the distillery itself. Take a tour of the distillery, which specialises in white rye whisky, vodka and gin, or just roll up for a cocktail – as befits such a place, the bartenders know how to design a damn fine drink.