SA’s finest distilleries
Virginia Spirits Distillery
Brothers Jon and Con Lioulios have distilled and launched Australia’s first Rakia, the national drink of the Balkans. The brothers make their small-batch craft spirit as a tribute to their Macedonian-born father, Pando. The Gold Rakia has a rich aroma with a full-bodied, smooth mouthfeel with a hint of aniseed and sweet undertones. Combine it with fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg whites to make a Rakia Sour. The White Rakia (clear) has a slightly more delicate flavour with subtle fruit with a clean fresh finish. Use it in an espresso martini or serve neat.
Adelaide Hills Distillery
Winemaker-turned-gin maker Sacha La Forgia wanted to make a white spiced rum which was not driven by artificial sweet vanilla flavours but used more natural ingredients such as Riverland orange and lemon aspen, cinnamon myrtle, bush tomato and native pepperberry. This rum is distilled with sugar cane and molasses and is lightly sweetened with bush honey and Australian demerara sugar. Use it to make a Dark and Stormy, garnished with lime and topped with ginger beer or as a perfect winter addition to mulled cider.
Whisky Barrel Gin
Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS)
This new release gin is produced by ageing the award-winning KIS Wild Gin for two months in Australian whisky barrels. The result is an aged gin with smooth and buttery textures and flavours. The small-batch Wild Gin which forms the basis of the aged gin is made with fresh botanicals such as Kangaroo Island native juniper. Enjoy Whisky Barrel Gin over ice with a sliver of persimmon to add to the vanillin gained from the barrel.
Adelaide Hills distillers Brendan and Laura Carter, known for their straight gin along with experimental lavender and salt and sake gins, have also made a single malt whisky. It’s crafted from 100 per cent SA malt which is fermented, distilled and matured in the Hills. The whisky was matured for three months in small, re-coopered, uncharred 80-year-old tawny casks.
Settlers (at Maximus Wines cellar door)
A small-batch gin made by winemaker Rowland Short from Maximus in McLaren Vale. Rowland makes gin, moonshine whisky , liqueurs and this curious vodka made with a “superfood” fruit. Organic Goji berries are steam vapour distilled using a triple-distilled spirit. A vanilla pod is added to the batch for a touch of sweetness.It’s ideal as a long drink, garnished with a slice of lime and topped with soda or used to make Bloody Marys.
The Italian Bitter Orange Apertif
Adelaide Hills Distillery
There’s no cooler cocktail right now than a negroni, and thanks to boutique Adelaide Hills Distillery’s Sacha La Forgia – best known for his 78° Small Batch Gin – comes a bitter (Riverland) orange, amaro-style liqueur, which can be successfully used to create a negroni. The Campari-type liqueur can also be served up as a summery pre-prandial with soda on ice.
Imperial Measures Distillery
By night you’ll find David Danby shaking and stirring at Hains & Co – the laneway bar dedicated to gin. By day, he can be found in Gumeracha, where the former cold stores, built in the 1920s for storing apples, operates as a still. Danby, who works alongside Ty Swan and Chris Jones, has just released his 10th batch of Ounce, a London Dry-style gin, which is unusual for layering orange, vanilla and cardamom over a traditional base of juniper and coriander. The orange note makes for a superb Negroni or a G&T garnished with orange. Danby has a Campari-style bitters on the way.
Okar and Red Økar
Small-batch distiller Applewood is best known for its gin, but it’s worth seeking out the Okar – an Australian take on amaro (think drinks like Aperol). Packed with native Australian botanicals, the standard Okar is a bitter/herbal aperitif, while the Red Økar boasts the hue and tart flavour of that most Australian of ingredients – the lilly pilly.