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7 of the best Gold Coast* distilleries

Granddad Jacks (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Granddad Jack's (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

As a bunch of discernible consumers of all alcoholic beverages, it was only a matter of time before the Gold Coast began to take heed and give us craft distilleries. Gin has, and still is, having a moment. Whisky has always grabbed a particular pocket of drinkers, and vodka is a staple that, although refreshing on its own, is an excellent base for many delicious cocktails we’ve come to love on the regular (espresso martini, anyone?).

Being one of Australia’s most innovative business start-up areas and having proximity to quality produce and botanicals from the South-East corner of Queensland and the Northern Rivers, our distilleries were always going to be a success no matter what shape or format they came in.

As there’s a sizeable collection for you to consider either buying from or visiting, we run down the distilleries we deem must-visits and precisely what they offer.

Granddad Jack’s
This multi-award-winning backstreet distillery has seen explosive success since opening its doors just three years ago. Aptly positioned in the now growing creative hub of Lemana Lane and surrounding streets, it’s a guaranteed good going-out spot. The portfolio of spirits is diverse, the atmosphere always on point, and the smiles forever beaming.
Offering: tasting room table bookings — distillery tour and tasting — private make your own gin class
Hours: Fri & Sat: 3pm – 9.30pm | Sun: 2pm – 6.15pm
Where: 45 Lemana Lane, Miami

Wildflower Gin Distillery (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Wildflower Gin Distillery (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

Wildflower Gin Distilling
As if we need another motive to love the Burleigh Heads/Varisty Lakes area…. Wildflower Gin Distilling is just another reason we’ll add to an already long list. This industrial feel space creates what they describe to be, in their own words ‘Burleigh in a bottle’. Gins are the main attraction, but the team also turn their hands to vodka, with their recent Lamington Cake vodka a must-try for something sweet and traditionally Aussie!
Offering: group table bookings — 2hr gin masterclasses where you can create your own spirit!
Hours: Fri & Sat: 5pm – 9pm | Sun 2pm – 6pm
Where: 2/486 Scottsdale Drive, Varsity Lakes

Tamborine Mountain Distillery
A drive out of town to nearby Tamborine Mountain will reward you with one of the country’s most decorated and awarded distilleries. The range of spirits and liqueurs available here is enormous, equating to everyone who visits finding at least one (if not more) favourite tipples. The venue itself is an eclectic mix of old-world charm with a sprinkling of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory vibes, be sure to bring a crew and enjoy this space — and their tasty drops!
Offering: tasting room bookings — tailored events
Hours: 7 days 10am – 5pm
Where: 10 Macdonnell Road, Tamborine Mountain

Panezski Distillery cocktail (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Panezski Distillery cocktail (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

Panezski Artisan Distillery
For a long time, vodka has had strong associations with our hardy northern hemisphere friends, the Russians. However, take a closer look at where some of the best vodkas are being produced, and you’ll notice such countries as the USA, France and Poland continually pop up — we may even see Australia soon in that mix. This family-owned distillery in Southport takes their Polish heritage seriously, dishing up some fine examples of vodka and gin with fantastic attention taken from the start, right through to bottling.
Offering: tasting room bookings — group events
Hours: Mon-Thurs: open from 4pm | Fri open from 2pm | Sat open from 10am, bookings highly recommended. Sunday (bookings only)
Where: 7 / 55 Bailey Crescent, Southport

Beenleigh Rum Distillery
With the title of being Australia’s oldest operating distillery, you’re not only tasting rum here but a slice of history. This quality artisan producer is a must-try for those who enjoy their rums, with a sizeable collection of products and an ever-growing line for you to appreciate — and keep on appreciating! Parts of the distillery known as the Big Red Shed have been part of the setup from day one back in 1884 and are mixed with a modern venue space for all to enjoy.
Offering: various tasting experiences — Master of Rum craft your own rum experience — venue hire/functions
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 10am — 5pm | Fri: 10am – 8pm | Sat & Sun: 10am – 4pm
Where: 142 Distillery Road, Eagleby

Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Husk Distillery (image supplied)

Husk Distillery
Ok, so we cheated on this one (not technically a Gold Coast distillery, but we love it so much). Pretty hues of pink and purple have made Husk’s Ink gin one of the most recognisable sips in the past few years. Often punctuated with a sprig of rosemary, you’ll find yourself in a little slice of Northern NSW heaven at their picturesque distillery in the removed countryside spot of Tumbulgum. Although across the border, pack the car with blankets and friends and make an afternoon of it. Read all about the foundation of Husk from Paul Messenger’s interview with us here.
Offering: monthly distillery dinners — table bookings —distillery tours — cocktail masterclasses
Hours: Weds-Fri: 11am – 5pm  | Sat & Sun: 11am – 6pm
Where: 1152 Dulguigan Rd, North Tumbulgum NSW

Capricorn Distilling Co.
Introducing the newest kid on the block! This small-batch distillery has just opened in Burleigh and boasts premium spirits that promise to be ‘as real as it gets.’ Our northern friends may be familiar with Rockhamption’s Saleyards Distillery and now we are fortunate to have the same innovative team bringing their passion to the Goldy. You can expect Spiced Rum, Summer Gin and even Pineapple Rum (for those who love the fruit – even on their pizzas.) Worthy of a leisurely stroll in on the weekend we think!
Offering: distillery tours — distillery door
Hours: Fri-Sun: 10am — 5pm
Where: 21 Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Paul Messenger

Paul Messenger - Founder of Husk Distillers and Wife Mandaley Perkins (image supplied)
Paul Messenger, Founder of Husk Distillers and wife, Mandaley Perkins (image supplied)

Correct us if we are wrong, but most of us would be pretty well versed in knowing the taste and look of the famous purple liquid that sits behind most bars. And of course, we are referring to none other than the renowned Ink Gin. And ahead of International Gin Day (yes it’s a thing) on the 9th of April, we thought it would be only fitting we interviewed the man behind Ink Gin. Founder of Husk Distillery, Paul Messenger gives us an insight into how Husk came about and what the once-Goldy-local loves about the Coast when he does make the trip up north from his home in Northern NSW.

How long have you been a Northern New South Wales local?
I grew up on the Gold Coast and have fond memories of visiting Tumbulgum as a ten-year-old when the chain ferry ran people and cars across the river. When we realised we wanted to make agricultural rum, Tumbulgum was the first place that came to mind with its fertile soils, abundant water, rich sugar cane history, picturesque river village and close proximity to some of the world’s best surf beaches. It was with enormous satisfaction and a great privilege that we were able to buy Husk Farm in 2011, finally moving here in 2012.

Tell us how Husk came about.
It’s a long story. I was flying over the Nullarbor Plain on my way to a drill rig in the West Australian goldfields in 1998 when I read a story about how a fella by the name of Bill Lark, the Godfather of Tasmanian whisky, lobbied to change the law and allow small craft distilleries to operate legally. That story captured my imagination and over the next 10 years I followed the success of Tasmanian Whisky and wondered how I too could follow this dream. But it was during a Caribbean cruise in 2009 that my distilling ruminations started to take form during an afternoon sipping 20 year-old Rhum Agricoles in a small bar next to a small distillery on the small island of Martinique. While reflecting on the vast fields of sugar cane back home, my dream took on a clarity quite at odds with the relaxed rum haze that became the rest of the afternoon in that charming place. The locals explained to me that rum made from fresh cane juice has “terroir” – the taste and soul of the place where it’s made. As a geologist, the idea of capturing the provenance and spirit of the place where I grew up made my heart skip a beat and that was where our journey began.

Ink Gins from Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Ink Gins from Husk Distillery (image supplied)

What’s your proudest entrepreneurial moment?
Everything we were doing was novel or innovative and it was clear that it would take many years of devotion to perfect our rum and reveal the true spirit of this place. It was also clear that we needed an income fast, and with the early signs of a gin renaissance taking root in England we started looking for quirky gin ingredients. I actually found the colour changing butterfly pea flower early in the journey and had been experimenting with it in liqueurs, vodka, even rum as well as with a range of gin botanicals. I was mixing these concoctions with lemon or lime to make the colour change, but the “eureka moment” came when I mixed an experimental butterfly pea gin with tonic water. The magic of seeing that deep blue liquid transform into a bright, sparkling blush pink colour sensation will stay with me forever, I knew we were onto something big and that butterfly pea gin and tonic would be a match made in heaven.

What’s the most popular Husk Spirit you sell?
At the moment, at least, Ink Gin is by far our most popular spirit, even though we continue to invest heavily in developing a unique Australian expression of a French-style fresh cane juice rum. Ink Gin came about because of the need to generate cash flow and because cane juice rum is seasonal and can only be made during the harvest (August-November). The fact that we spent three years developing the recipe and getting the infusion right meant we had to keep our day jobs for a few more years, but we wanted to make sure that people would buy the first bottle because of the colour but they’d then buy their second for the taste. Ink Gin hit a nerve with people at the right time, when the craft gin boom was about to take off and people were thirsty for something new and different.

Paul Messenger & Quentin Brival from Husk Distillers (image supplied)

What’s your personal favourite Husk Spirit and why?
No question, Husk Pure Cane. This is how all our rums start – it’s the most pure, unadulterated expression of our ‘terroir’, our provenance. Call it what you like, agricole, fresh juice rum or Cultivated Australian Rum, this is a style not well understood in Australia and unaged rums even less so. But in the French Caribbean, where it is as much a part of their heritage and identity, this is how people drink rum – clean, fresh and full of flavour. Drink it in a short ti’ punch, a daiquiri, caipirinha or mojito, but it must be Pure Cane.

What’s a Gin Cocktail recipe you would recommend to all Gin-lovers?
The Southside is one of the classics, that’s also really easy to make at home. Otherwise, you can’t go past the simple G&T. I like simple drinks where you can really taste the quality of the spirit.

What does the next 5 years have in store for Husk Distillery?
The next 5 years will be just as adventurous, bold and busy as the last 10 years. We are investing in the future of Australian rum with a new sugar mill onsite at Husk. This is a complicated project which will take up a lot of my time this year and next. We are also finishing up a new tank farm and barrel storage and we are planning additions to our fermentation capacity and an upgrade to our wastewater treatment. As always we are very focused on quality control and process improvements and we are committed to making Husk Distillers, Tumbulgum one of the safest, most efficient and sustainable distilleries in Australia. You can also expect to see plenty of new product releases, a new Husk Rum brand identity and bottle (shhh…), and lots of new experiences at the Husk cellar door.

Ink Gin from Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Ink Gin from Husk Distillery (image supplied)

When you visit the Gold Coast, what are your favourites…

Café: Café D’Bar after a surf off the rock wall is always a favourite.
Coffee spot: Zephyr Coffee in Kirra is fantastic. And they roast their own beans!
Restaurant: Jimmy Wah’s in Burleigh is great.
Bar or pub for a drink: Rainbow Bay surf club. Best view on the coast.
How do you choose to spend your weekends? 
Surf as much as I can, catch up with work, spend time with my beautiful wife. BBQ with family and friends and share a few Botanicals & tonics. We also enjoy cruising down the coast and catching a show at Bruns Picture House. Ending up in the Brunswick pub also makes for a great Saturday night.

Granddad Jacks Craft Distillery

11 of the best local gin cocktails

Granddad Jacks' Seymour Street via @shark4chipdrink
Granddad Jacks' Seymour Street via @shark4chipdrink

On June 13th each year we raise a glass to World Gin Day and the spirit that has certainly had its come up over the last little while. The Gold Coast boasts our very own gin distillery plus a host of bars making magic with local gins. All of which you won’t be surprised to learn we’re big fans of.

In honour of that, here are the best spots to get your gin fix on the Gold Coast this World Gin Day (or anyday for that matter). Happy sipping.

Tamborine Mountain Distillery
Tucked away on Mount Tamborine is one of Australia’s smallest and most unique distilleries with over 280 International Awards. Their gold medal award winning gin is the Lilly Pilly Gin, a pot still gin using botanicals such as Australian Lilly Pilly (Riberry), Juniper, Angelica root, Orris root, Citrus peel, Caraway, Coriander, Aniseed Myrtle, Elderflower, Mistletoe, Passionflower, Shepherd’s Purse and more. The best part about it, it’s got a delightful pink hue.
Where: 87-91 Beacon Road, North Tamborine

The Island Rooftop
It’s always a good time on the rooftop in Surfers Paradise, overlooking the city and with guaranteed good vibes. While all the sips are sweet, our recommendation is the Clover Leaf made with Beefeater gin, raspberry, lemon and egg white, so good.
Where: 3128 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise

Aloha Bar & Dining
How does a Saturn Juniper Uranus sound? Cool right. That’s exactly what you should order at Broady’s most colourful alleyway bar, Aloha Bar & Dining. It’s got Four Pillars gin, sloe gin, orgeat, passionfruit, lime and rosemary and it’s out of this world. The bar itself is decked out in full colour, with hidden rooms and moody, good time vibes aplenty. Follow the music down the alley and you’ll find yourself in a magical world of tiki goodness.
Where: 18 Main Place, Broadbeach

Number One and Two, Fig & Frankies
Number One and Two, Fig & Frankies

Fig & Frankies
Another delightful Broadbeach bar dedicated to exceptional sips and very good times is Fig & Frankies, also newish on the scene and also very well-loved amongst Gold Coast locals. Their cocktail list is tight and filled with delights made up of local spirits and you’ll want to try them all. Drinks are numbered rather than named and each is absolute perfection to be honest. We particularly loved Number One (aptly named) because it is made up of MAC by Brookies, clarified green apple and house lemonade and we cannot overstate tasty enough. Gather the crew and sip up a storm. 
Where: 4/2707 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach

Roosevelt Lounge
A must-visit cocktail bar in Broadbeach, Roosevelt Lounge is one of the city’s sexiest spots for a cocktail, capturing the seductive style and glamour of decadent New York. For World Gin Day try the Down the Rabbit Hole Signature Cocktail made up of Ink gin, in-house chimmer liqueur (pink moscato, pisco, peach & orange blossom), blueberry vinegar, citric acid and life of cha crystal tea. Delightfully served in a tea pot, this cocktail is an Instagram dream.
Where: 75 Surf Parade, Broadbeach

Granddad Jacks
The Gold Coast’s first gin distillery Granddad Jacks are, quite obviously king when it comes to gin cocktails (and gin in general). Our number one on their list is the Seymour Street with their very own Greenhouse Gin plus Eucalyptus and fresh lime juice because it’s the ultimate in Aussie-inspired freshness and it tastes top notch too. Love your work mates.
Where: 45 Lemana Lane, Miami

Rosella’s Bar
Oh Rosella’s, little love of our lives. A refined Australiana bar in the heart of Burleigh Heads, Rosella’s is bringing all Aussie eats and tipples to the very appreciative people. On a list of cocktails that will 100% improve your life (especially the Pet Nat Slushie – love you) but for the purposes of this article let’s chat about the Kylie Minogue Martini with Vickers Gin from Beenleigh Distillery no less, vodka, elderflower, verjus and pink peppercorn. It’ll have you spinning around in no time.
Where: 6/1743 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Kylie Minogue Martini
Kylie Minogue Martini

Lockwood Bar
Tucked away down Justin Lane behind a red velvet curtain is Lockwood Bar. They a serving up a sexy sip titled Brookie’s Aviation which fuses Brookie’s Dry Gin, lemon juice, Tempus Fugit liqueur de violette and Luxado Maraschino liqueur. Topped off with a maraschino cherry, you know it’s a goodie.
Where: Justin Lane, Burleigh Heads

Suga
An intimate little space down Palmy way is Suga, a cocktail and rum bar open until late and serving up cocktails that are quite unlike anything you’ve sipped before. On World Gin Day we recommend a Gin Lippy with Larrikin Gin, citrus syrup, housemade lemonade and a whole lots of tastiness. A very tasty tipple indeed. Pop on in for a few of those this weekend.
Where: 1142 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach

The Collective Palm Beach
The Rooftop Bar at The Collective Palm Beach is a gin-lovers paradise with beloved gin-based cocktails including the Rose Hip Martini with Poor Toms Gin, hibiscus syrup, lime and grapefruit and the Unnamed Sympathy served Tiki-style with macadamia-infused Nobel Cut Gin, Bushfire Botanic Australis Gin and pine-lime allspice. Both of which are tried and tested by us and both of which are really very delicious.
Where: 1128 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach

Saint Helen’s Kitchen + Bar
If sipping cocktails seaside is your thing (and we know it is), you’ll love Saint Helens Kitchen + Bar signature slurp The Gin Thruster. It’s got gin, blueberry and tonic. It’s bright, refreshing and super Insta-worthy – if it lasts that long.
Where: Shop 2/78 Musgrave Street, Kirra

Words by Kirra Smith

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