Numerous bars (including rooftop and cocktail bars), pubs, and restaurants (many of which are open until the wee hours of the morning) ensure that Melbourne residents can drink to their hearts' content and eat to their stomachs' content no matter what time of day it is. Craft breweries have sprung up in Melbourne in response to the city's "good drinking problem" (some of which have been in the city for decades, others have recently popped up). There are many beer bars, but we understand that not everyone enjoys beer, so there are also many wine bars to choose from.
But for those with a taste for the distilled, Melbourne is also home to a number of distilleries, producing some of the finest Australian gin brands that hold their own against their international counterparts. Melbourne's distilleries, both in the central business district and in the suburbs, give visitors a chance to learn about the production process for spirits like gin, rum, vodka, and whisky, and even give them a taste of the finished product. Some of them might even have a restaurant connected to them that serves food that goes well with the drinks they offer.
Best Distilleries in Melbourne
Distilleries that are among Melbourne's best and most well-known are listed below. So that you can easily find the best distilleries in your area of Melbourne, we compiled our own list using these criteria.
Little Lon Distilling Co.
This quaint little distillery produces gin from its Melbourne CBD location – housed inside the last remaining single-storey building in the CBD – that takes inspiration from the stories of the Little Lon district. The area used to be a slum and red-light district, starting in the 1850s, with buildings such as the one Little Lon Distilling Co, called home (built-in 1877), were used by sex workers.
The distillery names its gins after both real and fictional characters, and include a lychee-infused gin called Little Miss Yoko, a bottle called Ginger Mick, a fictional character created by author CJ Dennis and Captain Proudfoot, said to be a “vanquisher of vice” in the Little Lon district and one that exhibits flavours of rosemary and pine.
A visit to the distillery will allow you to not only learn of Little Lon’s history but be shown how the gins are made, get the chance to try them and even learn how to make some delicious cocktails.
Little Lon Distilling Co, this once ‘notorious’ northeast corner of Melbourne, was a sight to behold in the 1850s. Its colourful past -specifically, a deep shade of harlot red- made it a magnet for the passionate, where wanton wenches and liquored-up larrikins lurched down its lamp-lit lanes.
Fast forward 141 years, and here they are—little Lon Distilling Co. A gentrified establishment commemorates Little Lon's rich history with a range of characterful, small-batch gins that raise a tipple to the delightful deviates that once trod these lurid laneways.
Hippocampus actually came to fruition in Perth. However, until 2017, the distillery upped sticks. It relocated to Melbourne following a merger with Melbourne brewery Boatrocker (both Hippocampus and Boatrocker Brewery are owned by the same group) to form Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers.
Hippocampus’ head distiller Lex Poulsen made a move too, as did the distillery's copper still, named “Kylie”. This means Hippocampus has continued producing the same delicious spirits, which include vodka and gin. Hippocampus Gin is certainly one you need to try, being made in a steam-driven still, resulting in more uniform heating and, thus, a better gin. In addition, botanicals are left to macerate for several hours to ensure the best possible flavouring.
Patient Wolf Distilling Co.
The distillery at Patient Wolf is widely considered to be Victoria's best gin producer. There are currently three different kinds of gin made behind this cellar door: a classic Melbourne Dry, a zesty thyme and lemon-infused variety, and a perennial best-seller made with Sloe berries.
The bar's New York loft-style décor—characterized by simple lines, exposed brickwork, and seating for 30—makes it a strong contender for the title of "best bar in Melbourne." It's also the site of distillery tours and gin masterclasses, from which you can emerge a want tobe brewer of the spirit.
In 2019, Patient Wolf Distilling Co. made the move across the Yarra from its previous location.
The business relocated from a warehouse in Brunswick to a more modern location in Southbank, where it now operates as a distillery and bar. There is a 30-person capacity at Patient Wolf's distillery, where they serve both a traditional menu of gin and tonics and other classic gin-based cocktails and an experimental menu of cocktails created specifically to showcase their gins (including a vivid green snow pea cocktail). If you find a distillate you particularly enjoy, you can buy it at retail price to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
The distillery's existing 220L Müller copper is now located at the Southbank site, and a 1000L still is scheduled to arrive from Germany in early 2020. If our calculations are correct, when the German still finally arrives, Patient Wolf will be able to produce more gin than any other independent, urban distillery.
FAQs Best Melbourne Distilleries
Can I buy my favourite distilled spirits online and conveniently ship them directly to me? Unfortunately, in most places in the United States, the answer is NO. Why? Currently, consumers are prohibited from buying spirits and shipping them to “direct to consumer” due to the three-tier system established after the end of Prohibition.
On the most basic level, a distillery makes money from the sale of liquors the distiller has created. This process is a little abstract in most states, though, as they follow a three-tier system. In this system, the distiller is the producer who sells their products to distributors who then sell to retailers.
The answer is somewhere between $3 and $5 Million, at a minimum. While not all of this money is needed all at once, it will be needed to turn your startup into a legitimate, competitive business.
Starward should be the first stop for whisky lovers. Starward chose Melbourne as its production base because, according to the company, the city's erratic weather "draws out its signature fruity, delicious flavour" in its whisky.
Each barrel (which, in case you were wondering, are used to store red wine) is aged for three years, which is relatively short when compared to the typical whisky maturation time of several decades. When you consider that some Scotch and Irish whiskies take up to a decade to mature, you can see why Starward values a climate that is constantly shifting.
You can take a tour of the distillery, take part in a whisky-making masterclass, or simply stop by to sample the whiskies (including special project varieties) and well-crafted cocktails on offer.
They set out with a straightforward goal in mind: to produce an authentically Australian whisky that they could be proud to export. He was born and raised in Melbourne, so naturally he felt compelled to create a spirit that paid homage to the city in every way, from its unique culture to the city's infamous "four seasons in a day" climate. Within a day's drive, you can reach some of Australia's best wine regions, and the city itself is known as the microbrewing capital of the country.
Starward was founded in 2007, and it wasn't long before it was a bartender favourite all over Melbourne. Constant changes in temperature mean whisky matures very quickly in Melbourne, taking on flavours from sherry or bourbon casks much faster than the same whisky would take in a place with a more constant climate, like Scotland. The result is that Starward's whiskies are almost all under five years old, but they have the smooth, easy-drinking flavours of much more mature drinks.
The Solera and Wine Cask whiskies are the distillery's signature beverages. There is also a gin (flavoured with salted black lime) and a bottled Old Fashioned that is perfectly balanced and great for taking to a picnic.
The distillery is an airy and open warehouse space in Port Melbourne, within easy walking distance of the city. The bar at the front is open to the public (try a whisky and tonic – you can thank us later) and a great space to catch up with friends. It is whisky-focused, as you'd expect, with Starward and other Australian spirits available and a few craft beers.
You can book tours of the distillery to learn how whisky is made, from barley to bottle. You can taste whisky at its various stages along the way, along with seeing up close the state-of-the-art equipment and hundreds of barrels ageing the precious liquid. There are also masterclasses and special flights so that you can learn about whisky from around the world.
Women lead the way at Two Birds.
Sisters are doing it for themselves, and other beer-lovers at this local hotspot. are the pair behind Two Birds Brewing, Australia’s first female-owned brewing company. They make extremely drinkable beers full of flavours, such as Sunset, an amber ale, and Taco, hoppy ale with corn, coriander and lime zest notes. Relax at the tasting room, The Nest, from Thursday to Sunday.
Bakery Hill has been committed to producing single malt whisky from its Melbourne base since 2000. Claiming that great-tasting single malt can indeed be made outside of Scotland and judging by not only the processes the distillery uses but the awards received – including the 2020 Award for Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year – we’d say they’ve proved their point. Bakery Hill employs a long maturation process, much longer than other Australian whisky producers, and will only transfer it into the bottle from the barrel when it is “perfect”.
Bakery Hill encourages anyone and everyone to pay a visit to the brewery (it already attracts a healthy influx from around the world). However, make sure you book ahead, as since it’s a working distillery, walk-ins can’t be accommodated. Instead, you’ll receive a 90-minute tour that will educate you on how Bakery Hill makes its unique whiskies.
Tiny Bear Distillery
Tiny Bear Distillery was born in 2017 and founded by Damien Anderson, who decided to quit his job as a high school chemistry teacher to devote his time to concoct some of the finest boutique spirits around. From the outset, the owner wanted to make sure he could oversee the entire production process from grain to bottle, cementing the distillery as a ‘Tiny’ operation.
The owner and their wife and his team make their base spirit onsite, from kale, no less. This allows them to have a much greater influence over the final taste of their product than if they bought in a pre-made spirit instead. Tiny Bear currently produces three gins (with two of them also spawning barrel-aged varieties), including a Navy-strength, a refreshing kale-infused bottle, and “The Gypsy”, which introduces spice notes. You can help in the production of Tiny Bear’s gins with a visit to the distillery, or you can sample a gin tasting paddle alongside a delectable cheeseboard.
Gin Is In At Four Pillars
This homegrown gin is turning up in the best bars from New York to London, but you can go back to the source at Four Pillars’ distillery. For just $10 (refundable with the purchase of a full-sized bottle), enjoy a tasting of the fruits of distiller Cam Mackenzie’s labour, from the award-winning Rare Dry Gin to the cult favourite Bloody Shiraz Gin while peering through the porthole windows at the copper stills.
JimmyRum is Victoria’s very first craft distillery dedicated to the production of rum. Found in the Mornington Peninsula, the distillery and rum bar only opened their doors in 2019, with the venue only being founded some 18 months prior.
It’s because of this that some of JimmyRum’s products can’t technically be read: legally, be called rum in Australia, as they have to mature for a minimum of three years. What it does produce is what can be called Cane Spirit. Regardless of legalities, everything JimmyRum produces is made with love, care and devotion to the often-overlooked spirit.
The distillery is worthy of popping your head in. It’s a state-of-the-art facility with a huge bar, which provides a comprehensive viewing platform to gaze at the copper still that’s known as Matilda. Of course, you can also book yourself onto an education tour before tasting some rum alongside a charcuterie board or a selection of toasties.
Brogan’s way from idea to reality was almost three years. Frustratingly long but blindingly quick. How did it come about? They remember it was a cold July evening after a family dinner when the conversation drifted from the usual daily stuff, and soon they talked about the best jobs one could do. This was the moment the decision was taken to start a gin distillery. From that moment, it was no longer the dream but a mission.
Red Duck Brewery
If you have a deep appreciation for quality craft beer, then make sure you check out this independent craft brewery in Ballarat. In 2005, Red Duck Brewery was launched from the converted dairy on the grounds of Purrumbete Homestead, becoming renowned for its core range of beers, including its Pale and Amber. a connoisseur for cold beverages and wine pairings, as he frequently collaborates with international brewers while fusing unusual ingredients in his brew. The brewers specialise in full strength and Imperial versions of mostly traditional British and European ales and more exotic as Egyptian-inspired sours and Medieval gruits.
Whisky business at Starward Distillery
Within these four walls, barley becomes whisky and is served to an ever-growing number of small-batch spirit devotees. Starward moved its operation from a hangar at Essendon Airport to this warehouse in the bayside ’burbs that showcases the shiny equipment. Its specialty is whisky aged in red wine barrels, and you can taste distillery-only drams and house cocktails at the bar, open Friday to Sunday.
All ale at Mountain Goat Beer
Top-notch pizzas, organic steam ale and a convivial atmosphere are all on offer when Mountain Goat, one of Melbourne’s original craft brewers, lifts its roller doors on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings. In addition, of course, the brewery’s other drops, including some limited editions (Coconut Porter should be on tap all the time), are available, as are free brewery tours on Wednesday night.
In this expansive beer hall, a glass window displays stainless-steel tanks as they ferment the amber liquid that will soon fill many a pot and pint. Stomping Ground – so-called because Collingwood was once the heart of Melbourne’s brewing scene – has 30 taps for your tasting pleasure. The Gipps St pale ale is a good place to start, but branch out to tap specials like Piney Dancer (a pineapple IPA) or Bearbrass milk stout.
The urban winery is a relatively new phenomenon, so it should come as no surprise that it first popped up in Melbourne’s inner north, the epicentre of hipster cool. Noisy Ritual has a group of members, who regularly convene to stomp grapes and bottle the rewards, but the converted bakery also opens as a bar and cellar door from Thursday to Sunday.
The Craft & Co
Since the restaurant and bar doubles as a brewery, distillery, and coffee roastery, the first thing you'll have to decide when you walk into the massive warehouse space is what to do first. The Craft & Co. Farm in Bangholme is also a vineyard and cellar door where they sell their own wine. Everything is decided through a group effort between the distillers, brewers, and winemakers to determine what might sell best in the area.
Also, sustainability is emphasised. Craft & Co.'s "spent grain and wort" is used to make "some of our loaves of bread and crackers," the company's claim. Stop by for a glass of the Craft & Co Fizz (made with the house gin, soda, lemon, syrup, and basil).
This Collingwood establishment serves many purposes; it is both a restaurant and a bar, a deli and a bottle shop, a winery and a school. The venue's "craft" side features a distillery, micro-dairy, and brewery; a vineyard at the Bangholme outpost creates high-end wines. The restaurant and bar serve the products of these artisans, and you can buy them at the gift shops. Classes and events, such as cheesemaking demonstrations and gin markets with guest appearances by other micro-distilleries, are also offered by the in-house creators.
Temple Brewing Company
One of Temple Brewing Company’s most popular drops is Bicycle Beer, a lower-alcohol (4.2%) pale ale created for Brunswick locals who like to mix a pint with pedalling. You can find them sipping in the sunny beer garden out the front of Temple Brewing’s two-storey bunker. Inside, feel free to order a Power Stance pilsner or Rye Hard IPA while admiring the state-of-the-art kit.
There’s something incredibly relaxing about sitting beneath an umbrella in the sunshine and swilling a glass of chilled rosé, knowing that the grapes it was made from were grown in nearby vineyards. Shadowfax grows Mataro (mourvèdre), mode use, grenache, shiraz and Carignan grapes, and handcrafts its different creations on site. The architecturally stunning cellar door is also home to a sophisticated restaurant, or you can order from the Picnic Rug menu to feast outside.
Bass and Flinders
An hour’s drive from Melbourne on the sunny Mornington Peninsula is Bass and Flinders, a gin distillery offering the chance for regular Jos to make their gin. In a two-hour blending class, participants will be greeted with a cheese platter, gin and tonic, a tour of the facility and be given a working knowledge of the process of distillation.
Gin enthusiasts then get to blend any combination of 14 distilled botanicals (cardamom, cassia, pepperberry and lemon myrtle feature) until they find a combination they like. If you like your gin citrusy, herbal, or spicy, now’s your chance to control the action. The workshop ends with participants bottling their gin and hand labelling it. The recipe is kept on file, so if you fancy yourself a bit of a whiz, you can even reorder a second batch through their website. Maybe everyone’s getting bottles of gin for Christmas this year?