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We’ve found the Gold Coast’s best kept distillery secret

Various cocktails available at The Winchester Distillery (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Various cocktails available at The Winchester Distillery (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Who doesn’t love a secret?! Even those secrets you swear you won’t tell anyone else, but your bestie doesn’t count. So we are here to let you in on one, as you’re our besties…

You ready? Ok well, we think we found the Gold Coast’s best kept secret! It’s named The Winchester Distillery, and guys, we’re Big Kev excited about this! So strap in for the DL on this hidden distillery that produces phenomenal small-batch artisanal liquors and liqueurs.

Nailing the industrial vibe with style, The Winchester Distillery has to be found to be believed. A beyond cool destination for your next Friday knockoffs, friend catch-up for a gin-wag, or private function as they have capacity for up to 120 guests. But perhaps the best thing about this hidden beauty is the distillery itself only produces 60 – 120 bottles per run. Meaning, their spirits are all made by hand and for the super passionate team, it’s certainly a labour of love.

Purple Giesha Cocktail using Chester's Pink Gin (image supplied)
Purple Giesha Cocktail using Chester's Pink Gin (image supplied)

They use local, fresh (or frozen in off-peak seasons) ingredients to create real colours and flavours, unlike the majority of distilleries who simply add food colouring. This makes each and every run truly unique, as the taste and hue will be slightly different every time. And we are all about this authentic approach! No joke, we guarantee you can actually taste the difference. Just try their Pink Gin; which is bursting with refreshingly sweet berry flavours. No added flavouring or colouring here folks! #gingoals.

Another reason to book an event or tasting here is that their liquor and liqueurs are not available to be purchased anywhere else. These masters of their craft produce their own ethanol and tinctures, with not a single drop sourced from another supplier. This is a rarity and not only is it super impressive, but the quality of their spirits is positively top-shelf because of it.

Cocktails including a Bubblegum, Blackberry and a Dark & Stormy, The Winchester Distillery (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Cocktails including a Bubblegum, Blackberry and a Dark & Stormy, The Winchester Distillery (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

The fit-out is rich in moody tones and textures, with the bar taking center stage with its charcoal veejay panelled back and corrugated iron front. There’s a wooden barn door feature, brass fixtures, and industrial-style lighting casting just the right amount of light where it matters. Like highlighting quirky quotes on the dark walls like “Shut up liver, you’re fine”…. aaaand maybe don’t repeat that to your GP. Another endearing oddity is the “Welcome to the Freak Show” wall feature, complete with red drawn curtains, and if this doesn’t get mileage on every patron’s social feeds, we don’t know what will.

Something else totally Instaworthy is the unique cocktails and not gonna lie, it’s hard to pick a fave coz they’re all shoutout-worthy. An absolute MUST is the Espresso Chestini, a rich and foamy mocha fusion that blends aromatic coffee crema with sweet Chester’s chocolate and smooth Chester’s FUG 28 Liqueurs.  Not only is it delicious, but it’s served up with an epic twist and no, this is not just a figure of speech, it literally has a twist effect created with cocoa powder on the top, and seriously you NEED to see it. It’s magic-al.

Quirky quotes in the tasting room at The Winchester Distillery (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Quirky quotes in the tasting room at The Winchester Distillery (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Then, freshen things up with a Passionfruit Moijito, a fruity and minty citrus crush infused with zesty sweet passionfruit pulp on a Chester’s White Rum base. Or, if you’re a fan of a shot and look when in Rome…, the Upsidedown Raspberry Cheesecake will have you lining up for seconds and thirds…and we need to re-read that liver quote right about now. Speaking of organs, if you’re feeling peckish, no worries – just dial in some Uber Eats, kick back and order another round!

So next time you and your pals are craving a visit to a watering hole that has a hidden bar feel or planning a private party (that hasn’t been done to death by every Tom, Dick and Harry), no need for a ‘spirited’ debate. Trust your gintuition and book in a day or night to remember at The Winchester Distillery.

Want to WIN your choice of liquor or liqueur from Winchester Distillery? Enter here now! (T&Cs apply and competition ends Monday 20 June 2022.)

Where: It’s a secret! All we can say, is it’s in Arundel. Enquire directly with the team to find out where!
When: Available 7 days for bookings only. 

Words by Bianca Trathen.

The Winchester Distillery Passionfruit & Signature Gin (image supplied)
The Winchester Distillery Passionfruit & Signature Gin (image supplied)

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.

Granddad Jacks Distillery

In what may just be the happiest news of 2018, a gin and whiskey distillery will roll open its doors in a few short weeks and we could not be more into it.

Granddad Jacks Distillery has been in the works for what feels like four years to those of us who love both gin and whiskey a little too much. In reality it’s only been four months but the wait is almost over.

On August 24th, the industrial-style Miami distillery will open for the good folks of the Gold Coast and, it’s certainly a cause to celebrate. Found on Lemana Lane, the distillery has taken up in what used to be a mechanics workshop and the transformation is pure magic.

Father/son team and owners Dave and Luke Ridden (along with the lovely Jess) scoured the Gold Coast in search of iron beams and the like to build a space that fits perfectly in Miami’s backstreets. Steel-inspired high tables with copper stools stretch down the centre of the room and two of the coolest leather couches we’ve ever seen make for a little chill spot at one end (if they go missing forget you read this). A day bed along one wall is lined with colourful cushions and underneath a mural proclaiming ‘too busy for bullshit, too tipsy to care’ and that, friends, is our new life motto.

Above the bar, an exposed brick wall boasts a painted portrait of the man himself, Granddad Jack, whose face peers out over the whole space, keeping an eye on you and your whiskey-fuelled shenanigans. There are wine barrels placed artfully about and the cruisiest of cruisers, decked out in Granddad Jack’s signage, is parked up the back. Oh and the main affair, a huge copper still sits at the back pumping out all the tasty booze. Love you.

So who is this Granddad Jack your new favourite watering hole is named after? Well, he’s a New Zealand born lad whose hard work and sharp mind allowed him to pay a huge family debt singlehandedly at the ripe old age of 14, that’s who. Luke, his great grandson, adopted the same hard working, ‘too busy for bullshit’ attitude and here we are, just a humble beachside city with our very own distillery. What a time.

Granddad Jack’s will sell only their own styles of both gin and whiskey and they’ll have a few varieties of each including what they call a ‘navy strength’ gin that’s 58%. Gimme.

There’ll be no food available on site but, hooray, you can BYO whatever you like so it’ll be a cheese platter and gin party for us thank you very much.

The epic space is also available for events including birthdays, engagement parties and wedding receptions and there was even a secret Sofar Sounds gig there recently. So much room for activities.

Okay we’re done and so very excited. Keep August 24th free, you won’t want to miss this one.

LOCATION: 43 Lemana Lane, Miami
HOURS: 10am until midnight Wednesday to Sunday

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

Small batch distillery Wildflower Gin now open

We the people of the Gold Coast are very much community-loving people. We’re all about supporting each other and having a very good time while we do it. Which is why it’s the very best news when a sweet, new space opens up and particularly one that creates their very own brand of gin.

Yes, Gold Coasters we have a new gin distillery on our hands and they are bottling up a very smooth, flavoursome drop indeed. It’s called Wildflower Gin, it can be found on Scottsdale Drive in Varsity Lakes and you’re likely to be visiting there quite a lot from now on.

Wildflower Gin is the work of James Greig and a team of passionate distillers who have over the past few years managed to create what they’ve deemed ‘Burleigh in a bottle’, a gin filled with locally grown botanicals including cardamom, lemon myrtle and coriander plus a little drop of honey from James’ own Burleigh backyard.

It’s a very easy drinking drop, a little bit floral and paired perfectly with either tonic (ask the team which is best) or solo over ice (tried and tested).

The brand came about as a hobby for James, who is quite the multi-passionate local business owner. He began with a very small Still to see if he could make it work and of course, he could.

Now the space boasts Walter, a beautiful copper Still that initially had the job of pumping out an unimaginable amount of hand sanitizer because Wildflower launched right at the beginning of lockdown time. Which may have seemed unlucky but actually allowed James and the team to both help the local community with something we desperately needed (REMEMBER) and make a few new friends along the way.

All of whom are now die-hard fans of Wildflower Signature Gin and for good reason.

At the moment, the space is mostly a cellar door affair so you can pop in, pick up a bottle and head on home again. If you’d prefer to stay a little longer and you probably will, you can book in for a make-your-own-gin class where the team will take you through the exact steps of making your own personal bottle of gin in a tiny little still and with an array of botanicals to choose from. You can book in for a class on the website right now.

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

What a time to be alive.

Either way, you’re going to want to sample Wildflowers’ initial offering ASAP and keep an eye out for upcoming limited edition releases in the future.

See, supporting local businesses and having a good time, we’re all about it.

LOCATION: 486 Scottsdale Rd, Varsity Lakes
HOURS: 2.30pm to 5pm weekdays and 11am to 6pm Saturday

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

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