We’re big fans of Brisbane’s craft beer scene, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to have a tipple of something a little stronger. Thankfully, Brisbane distilleries are booming and they’re producing small-batch, top-shelf quality craft spirits that hit the spot. From gin to vodka to rum and beyond, you can drink ’em straight, on the rocks, mixed or in your preferred cocktail of choice. The choice is yours to make.
Instilling authenticity, individuality and character into their spirits with local produce and botanicals (or the best international ingredients that can be found) as well as old-world distilling techniques, there’s a custom blend to suit everyone’s taste. And we’ve rounded up some of our favourite independent distilleries in Brisbane so you can grab a bottle of your favored tipple.
If you’d like to head along to raise a glass to their labour of love and master craftsmanship, there are more than a few distilleries where you can do that too. However, some are only available online which we like to think is them concentrating on what matters most—the spirit itself.
1. Brisbane Distillery, West End
Brisbane Distillery Company uses ingredients sourced from Queensland, and their pure-grain spirit has been produced in-house over two weeks. There are other ways to make this base spirit, notably quicker, but they say this is the right way and who are we to tell them any different. Besides, they are Australia’s only registered Gin School™ where master distillers share their love of gin and knowledge with eager students.
But, gin (and experimental gins, too) is not all they distill at Brisbane Distillery. They also produce their own vodka, orange triple sec and rhum—French Caribbean style made from sugar-cane juice, not molasses like most rums. Their bar has also got a 25-strong cocktail list that showcases the best of the best.
Find Brisbane Distillery at 259 Montague Road, West End
2. Fonzie Abbott, Albion
Coffee. Beer. Spirits. You can find it all under one roof in Albion at Fonzie Abbot—the world’s first and only roastery, brewery and distillery. And although spirits were the last to be concocted at the Fox Street headquarters, the team’s hard work has been rewarded. Fonzie Abbot’s gin, which won Gold, is double distilled and unfiltered in order to bring out the most in the citrus notes and spicier botanical tones while their silver-medal vodka is smooth yet complex.
Celebrate their triumphs by picking up one of their stylish spirit tins or head on down to Albion for a drink at the bar.
Find Fonzie Abbott at 40 Fox Street, Albion
3. Bavay Distillery, Morningside
Authenticity isn’t enough when it comes to spirits at Bavay Distillery. Now open at Rivermakers HQ in Morningside, their gins, vodkas and rums must also be historically accurate. Inside their revamped stillhouse, which was originally designed and built by local chemist and entrepreneur Auguste de Bavay in 1918, they produce a range of small-batch spirits with unique flavour profiles and links to international spirit-making traditions.
For example, their Spice Trade Rum is made with a 100-year-old cane recipe while their London Dry Gin follows a century-old wheat recipe. This last one is given a twist with pink pomelo for a sweet touch for those looking for something a little out of the ordinary.
Find Bavay Distillery at 82 Colmslie Road, Morningside
4. Grandad Jack’s Craft Distillery, Albion
Hailing from the Gold Coast, Grandad Jack’s Craft Distillery is now open in the city with its own tasting room and distillery. The family-owned and operated craft spirit makers have brought age-old recipes inspired by their grandpa and been rewarded with numerous prizes for concoctions in their core range which includes a botanical gin, a smooth coffee liqueur, an even-keeled gin and a full-flavoured, navy strength spiced gin.
But, one of the things we most love about Grandad Jack’s is the run of limited editions that are continuously created by the team, especially those that are celebrating their one-year anniversary. They get to work with the head distiller to come up with something completely their own and, often, quite unique let alone world firsts.
Find Grandad Jack’s Craft Distillery at 26 Collingwood Street, Albion
5. Imbibis, Bundamba
If a Turkish Delight-inspired gin tickles you pink, or an Aussie twist on the classic London Dry Gin floats your boat, then Imbibis is a southeast Queensland distiller you want to make note of.
Found out in Ipswich, Imbibis is at the mercy of chief distiller Jason Hannay, who actually brings to the table more than two decades of wine-industry experience. It’s no surprise then that Imbibis use grapes to produce not just their top-shelf gins but also their brandy, which are handcrafted in a bespoke copper pot still.
Their gins and brandies have won awards worldwide, but this is one distillery that doesn’t rest on its laurels. Expect small tweaks each time a new run is concocted to truly make a one-of-a-kind experience for the drinker.
Find Imbibis at U5/1 Gliderway Street, Bundamba
6. Eleven Bridges, South Brisbane
If you own a bar that stocks over 150 gins, it’s safe to say that you know a thing or two about what makes a great gin. It’s also safe to say that if you go down the route of making your own gin, you’ve got a great place to try it on willing clients.
That’s basically how Eleven Bridges’ small-batch gin distillery kicked off. Now, owners Lyal, Locky and Mark of said bar and distillery have created three gins worthy of your consumption: Eleanor Rhubarb Gin, Tasmanian Pinot Noir Gin and William Jolly Summer Gin. While the latter is juniper forward with hints of citrus, the former two are a bit more fun and playful—we reckon you can guess why.
Find Eleven Bridges at 35 Peel Street, South Brisbane
7. White Lies Brewing, Sumner
Don’t let the name fool, this brewery also doubles as a distillery. From humble beginnings in a residential estate White Lies has not only grown but won awards for its beers. However, we’re here for their Ginesis Range of gins, of which there are six varieties that pack a tasty punch.
From the standard London Dry, which has warm nutmeg and cinnamon tones, to the Hazy Hopped, which is brimming with passionfruit and citrus tones, we’re big fans. All White Lies’ gins are unfiltered to retain full flavour including the Wasabi gin—just let that one sink in.
Find White Lies Brewing at 2/32 Spine Street, Sumner
8. Beenleigh Artisan Distillery, Eagleby
Australia’s oldest distillery, older than Coca-Cola, is still making rum the small-batch way. While Beenleigh’s still might not be the smallest of the independent distillers in South East Queensland, it is the only one of its kind in Australia and the crew does take exceptional care with what they put into it—pure Queensland rainwater, premium molasses and their own proprietary yeast.
The Heart of the spirit then goes from the big pot to the little copper pot still where artisan distillers keep a close eye on what’s going on before the next stage of the process— ageing—where the Beenleigh new-make cane spirit goes into wooden maturation vats for a minimum of two years and up to fifteen years to produce a range of nine rum varieties.
From white rum to spiced rum, Beenleigh is dedicated to making craft rum and have been for over a century. Visit them on the banks of the Albert River and pick up a bottle of something sweet.
Find Beenleigh Artisan Distillery at 142 Distillery Road, Eagleby
9. Milton Rum Distillery, Brisbane
The Milton Rum Distillery has been reborn over 100 hundred years after it was flooded and the new iteration is doing just fine. Actually, more than fine because the storm bird (their logo) has swept up at award shows in the past few years, including a first, second and a third-place finish for three of their rums at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition, where they were also awarded the Australian Rum Distillery of the Year award.
Using a blend of traditional distillation techniques and recent innovations in the distilling industry, Milton have created a light and delicate Spanish Inspired Dark as well as Christmas-flavoured rum and even an aguardiente that’s got joga bonito all over it.
Find Milton Rum Distillery at 1/47 Castlemaine Street, Milton
10. Finesse Spirits, Brisbane (online only)
Master Distiller James Mylne likes small-batch distilling because you can use your senses to manually control the still. It’s this hands-on approach to creating the perfect blend of botanicals and roots that saw him nominated for Best Distiller at the 2019 Tasting Australia Spirit Competition in Adelaide and seen his Finesse Vodka, 100% Australian white winter wheat, strike Gold at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards.
While you can’t visit Finesse’s distillery in Brisbane, you can pick up one of his gins or vodka from a retailer near you. However, you’ll have to be quick as quantity is highly limited to ensure quality above all else—we’re talking about 100 bottles per batch.
Find Finesse Spirits online.
11. Laceys Hill Distilling Co., Moreton Bay (online only)
Laceys Hill Distilling Co is a small outfit crafting spirits that reflect what they have—bountiful local produce and sunshine in bucketloads Their spirits are made from scratch and handcrafted just under 40 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD where the majority of their bottles end up on top shelves or bar carts at homes. Their Lemon Myrtle Dry Gin is an international Gold winning spirit while the Moreton Sunrise Botanical Gin is a slice of blue sky in liquid form.
Laceys also does a smooth-enough-to-drink-on-its-own vodka plus a seasonal Apple Pie Moonshine they recommend as a digestif.
Find Laceys Hill Distilling Co. online.
12. Idle Hour, Brisbane (online only)
For when you’re looking to while away the time, Idle Hours has the vodka for you. The Brisbane outfit doesn’t do anything else bar their rye vodka made from locally-sourced ingredients in three forms—filtered, unfiltered and their new Native Series.
All are full of character, but the charcoal-filtered vodka (the white bottle) is perfect for mixing with soda or in a no-fuss martini while the unfiltered (the black bottle) lets the grain shine with its spicy yet chocolatey tones—just pour it over ice and you’re good to go. The new Kakadu Plum and Ginger Vodka adds exceptional flavour to balance out the rye notes, It’s the first in the Native Series and we’re already looking forward to what else they have in store.
Find Idle Hour online.
13. Winston Quinn, Fortitude Valley (online only)
If you’re into fashion and don’t know all that much about gin, then Winston Quinn is probably the best distillery to start your journey. Operated by head distiller, Megan Donsky, and named after her 2 golden retrievers, Winston Quinn’s gins are tailor-made, astoundingly beautiful and deliciously aromatic. And, their names are inspired by various jean cuts.
Take the Dry Cut. It’s a London Dry style gin with fresh lemon and orange rind plus five botanicals and more that sits just right. Then, there is the Skinny Jeans gin for the person that wants to stand out in a naturally coloured blue fit while the Double Denim is a statement, navy-strength gin.
Find Winston Quinn online. (Tasting room is closed indefinitely.)
14. Redlands Coast Distillery, Redland City (online only)
The first, legal distillery in Redland City is a family-owned and run artisan craft distillery born during the pandemic. Times were tough to start a new business, but it was time for a change and time to begin following passions and interests, which is how Redlands Coast Distillery came about.
Their Signature Dry Gin is the first of many spirits to be created in the coastal suburb and features bold herbal and piney flavours as well as hints of citrus and a floral finish thanks to local botanicals. This was followed by their handcrafted berry-flavoured pink gin and we’re keen to see what else Redlands Coast Distillery come up with.
Find Redlands Coast Distillery online.
15. Kitty Hawk Distillery, Geebung (online only)
Another new kid on the block, Kitty Hawk Distillery only has one spirit available for now while another is coming soon. Their handcrafted gin has been created with hand-picked citrus and lemon myrtle from Queensland’s Scenic Rim and mixed with a few spicier ingredients while their Single Malt Queensland Whisky is currently biding its time in barrels and awaiting release.
Named after the site of the first powered flight in 1903, Kitty Hawk Distillery is all about taking risks. Join them outside the comfort zone and pick up a bottle of what they’re distilling.
Find Kitty Hawk Distillery online.
16. Australian Spirit Laboratory, Loganholme (online only)
Craft distilleries are popping up every year and Australian Spirit Laboratory is one of the new kids on the distilling block. And, they’ve got plenty to prove with their crystal clear vodka and gin range imbued with, you guessed it, the Australian spirit. They’ve even made a batch of what they call Bullet Proof 153°, an unaged cane spirit made from locally grown sugar cane that is double the strength of other white spirits—perfect as a base for homemade liqueurs and herbal extracts and tinctures.
One of the benefits of small-batch distilling is that quantities of spirits are low. At Australian Spirit Laboratory, this means that they have the ability to create personalised flavours for special occasions with custom labels on top of their core gin and vodka which we think is pretty sweet.
Find Australian Spirit Laboratory at 5 Josephine Street, Loganholme