If there’s a more beautiful distillery in the country, we haven’t visited it as yet. It’s a big call, but there’s something about the location, history and scenery at Shene Estate that makes this a very special place.
It’s also fundamental to the story behind the distillery. Back in 2006 Shene Estate was purchased by the Kernke family who have passionately been restoring and preserving it ever since. As a former colonial residence, you can only imagine the history that it has seen. Clearly not all of this has been happy and rosy, so it’s great to see the property being associated with such an incredible distillery now.
We arrived at a lovely time of day to the distillery, later in the afternoon, when the colours really highlight the beautifully restored sandstone buildings, as well as the split timber building the distillery is housed in.
If you get the opportunity to visit the distillery in the future, don’t be fooled by the picturesque nature of the place. This is one serious working distillery, as evidenced by the 3 large stills sitting alongside the smaller still that is still used for all gin production.
A further tour of the estate brings you to the old barn, where we were taken through the Poltergeist botanicals, and a tasting of both versions of the gin (more on that later), by master distiller Damian Mackey. Of course Damian is integral to the gin and whisky being made at Shene. He’s already responsible for multiple awards for their spirits and it’s his name that adorns the whisky at Shene.
We were delighted to receive an additional tour of the original stables, yes the stables that are bigger than most country homes, by Anne Kernke herself. While the property itself is something special, you can also see and feel the real passion the family has for preserving it. Preservation on this scale isn’t cheap and the distillery plays a very real part in funding it.
The idea of a distillery on the site sprang from some of the fragments of very old gin bottles and even a tonic bottle found on the site. It must have been fate! Almost 15 years on Shene Estate is very much open to public tours and visits, as well as being a stunning setting for weddings and celebration..
As a conflict built property, it’s host to it’s fair share of ghosts, not least of which are the two poltergeists bottled by Shene Distillery!