Darling Distillery is the project of three mates, Ben, Karlos and Sean. It’s situated inside the historic 130 year old Royal Hotel in Melbourne’s inner suburb of Clifton Hill. The hotel was owned and operated by Karlos’ family since 1988. In recent years however they took the tough decision to close the hotel for health and family reasons.
Not wanting to see the space empty for too long, Karlos and Sean began with revamping the bottle shop next door. They shifted their focus to more locally produced spirits and beers, which undoubtedly got the creative juices flowing.
More recently the pair were joined by local resident Ben Evans. The pair became friends with Ben thanks to some regular visits at the hotel for a cheeky wine at the end of the workday.
Having learned more of Ben’s backstory, winding down over a glass of red makes all the sense in the world! Ben just so happened to be the man behind urban dairy St David’s Dairy in Fitzroy. Having built the dairy into a local institution churning out (pun intended) award winning products, it was snapped up in a multi-million $ deal in 2018.
With money to invest and a non-compete in the dairy industry, Ben joined forces with his mates to launch Darling Distillery.
Melbourne lockdowns have ensured the trio’s plans have moved slower than hoped, but we don’t see that holding them back. Their 300l copper still arrived 12 months ago and they began work on their first release, our gin of the month, Darling Gin.
Ben’s foodie curiosity paired with Karlos and Sean’s industry experience has resulted in an outstanding first release. We’ll delve into it more in our how to drink article.
Housing the contents of this super gin though, is a bottle that’s deserving of some attention. Sean explains that coming from a design background, he really wanted the bottle to be a standout feature. Fortunately, yet another local friend of the group was able to deliver. Melbourne street artist Kitt Bennett has become known for some of his larger than life murals.
These are well worth checking out while you’re sipping your gin.
Kitt’s work on the bottle design features in the screen printed botanical graphics on the bottle. It’s also paired with a label on the back containing the must have information. The inner side of the label gives the bottle the backdrop it needs for the bottle graphics to pop that much more.
If we’re nerding out slightly over these key details, it’s with good reason! Lindsay was recently invited onto the judging panel for the Australian Gin Awards, 2021 Design Award. Darling Gin took out a well deserved 2nd place in the awards thanks to this attention to detail.
Like many distilleries, things for Darling Distillery are very much focussed on opening up to the public. There’s plans for a very stylish cellar door at the distillery, with some additional Kitt Bennett artwork on the walls.
With a foodie like Ben on the team, you can also guarantee amazing flavour and botanical selections will be explored further in future releases. With this first release under the belt, we’re pretty keen to see what comes next!