Queenscliff Distillery represents just about everything we love about the craft industry. There’s owners with a huge passion for locally produced products, including wine, beer, spirits and food.
The location is steeped in the local history and community, Port Phillip Bay and the Bellarine Peninsula. The still their gin is made in was built in Griffith NSW, by a well-known still maker (Burns Welding) and gin producer also.
Finally, the gin was first produced with guidance from another local spirits producer (Josh Walker, Timboon Distillery) highlighting the collaborative respect that is common across Australian distilling.
Part owner of Queenscliff, Andrew Noseda, has his roots not too far down the coast. Andrew was born and has grown up in Apollo Bay, situated in Southwest Victoria, a key stop on the Great Ocean Rd. In fact, Andrew’s family have history in the area running back as far as the early 1900s.
It’s probably no surprise that someone with this history would want to keep their business interests local also. More unusual is how extensive those interests have become for him. In addition to Queenscliff our distillery of the month, Andrew and his partners also own Apollo Bay Distillery, Forbidden Fruit Cider, Prickly Moses Beer and Queenscliff Brewery.
The interest in craft drinks runs deep here, although gin was probably the least expected, with beer being their first and most extensive interest.
Andrew in fact credits his desire to get into gin being planted on one of his many trips around food events in the region. The gin in question was Cavendish gin and unfortunately for all of us, it no longer exists with the distillery shut down. Andrew however has promised a sample from his dwindling stock, something we’ll take him up on when travel permits!
The gin was good enough to inspire him down the path of producing their own. If you’re going to start producing your own booze, having your own hotel will certainly make selling it easier! In Andrew’s case, this was the main reason for previously purchasing the historic Queenscliff Hotel. While the partners had been operating a hotel already in Apollo Bay, the opportunity to own the freehold in Queenscliff was too good to pass up.
A hotel has existed there since the 1800s and in many ways situating their distillery in the 1879 cellar brought the site back to its roots. Back in the early days the cellar was used as storage for rum and whisky barrels offloaded from ships locally.
Now the cellar is host to Queenscliff’s 600 litre Burns still and is producing a super range of delicious gins. The gins have been added to their beer, wine and cider ranges already on sale and available for tasting at the hotel.
This group don’t stand still for a moment and have since taken what they’ve learned at Queenscliff and launched a second distillery back in Apollo Bay at the old post office. With a completely different range and method of distillation, these two distilleries have obvious points of difference for you to explore.
While other gins in the Queenscliff range can be found at major liquor retailers, we were keen to pick up this latest release, which is largely unknown. The Botanical gin highlights the strength of the group’s experience in craft booze. Considering what they produce already, we’re sure it won’t be the last.
Once restrictions allow, we’ll be adding this as just one more stop on our countrywide tour of distilleries we’ve been unable to visit over the last year and half. The great ocean road has been a bucket list item for too long already and the two distilleries from this group should be just the ticket for us getting there!