Have you embraced our local gin scene yet? In the past few years, South Australia has undergone somewhat of a distillery revolution, with new boutique bottles of gin popping up all over the place. The Adelaide Hills is home to a collection of these, with a number of craft distilleries opening in the produce-driven region. The newest kid on the block is Ambleside Distillers in our very own Hahndorf.
It’s a family affair at Ambleside Distillers, set right in the heart of Hahndorf. Owner Matt Dickson and parents Trudy and Steve, are not only related but all share a love of the crisp, botanical-driven spirit, too.
Ideal for regions like the Adelaide Hills, distilleries are the perfect way to make the most of all the produce in our region. Many wineries and producers are jumping on board to make use of any unwanted produce. If you can’t use it, it’s likely you can ferment it - it’s a win, win.
What started as a backyard distillery after an inspiring working holiday to the UK for Matt, has now become a thriving family business. But the trio says it was their love-affair with gin that started the label.
“We just fell in love with the gin revival scene in London and thought ‘let’s build a distillery in our own backyard here in Australia’,” Trudy says.
“We live in a beautiful part of the world and we wanted to share that with more people by creating a quality gin product and experience for them to enjoy.”
The family owned the property for some time beforehand, and upon Matt’s return to South Australia and Hahndorf, they thought what better use for the site than to create their very own distillery.
These days, everyone can enjoy the beauty of this gorgeous little pocket of the Hills, with their new Tasting Bar now open. Here you can indulge in the ultimate gin experience, sampling the entire range gins, all featuring the family’s home-grown botanicals. You can also take a behind-the-scenes look into the distillery on-site, too.
If you take on the three signature gin flight, you’ll be able to taste the subtle differences between them; all crafted individually by each family member. Served with ice, tonic and garnishes to explore different taste sensations and flavour profiles, the gins are all representative of what Matt, Trudy and Steve each love in a gin.
“We all had strong ideas based on our own palettes and what our flavour profiles were going to be for our three signature gin products,” Steve says.
“We have a bit of a family competition going on, we’re always checking to see who’s gin has sold the most. It’s all good fun and healthy competition.”
Trudy’s No.8 Botanical gin has a crisp, refreshing citrus tone which she says showcases a style she loves.
“It’s called the No.8 Botanical as our eighth botanical in our range is orange, and our Riverland oranges are the hero in this gin…you can smell them as soon as you open the bottle,” she says. “I love citrus gin, so I wanted to create something in a style I love and it’s perfect for people to enjoy in the Australian sun.”
Steve’s Small Acre gin is named after the location of the distillery on the family’s small acreage block in Hahndorf. Steve says the gin is based on his own favourite experiences and memories.
“The central ingredients of my gin are bay leaves, rhubarb and green apple peel. The flavours are ones that remind me of my nanna’s cooking…when you take a smell and get hit with those hearty aromas…that’s what it’s all about for me.”
Matt’s Big Dry gin is for those who love the heat, with jalapeños as the key ingredient. “Our son Matt loves big dry styles of gin, and chilli and spice are his thing. It took a long time to perfect the crafting of the jalapeño flavour but it’s been a really popular style in the colder months,” Steve says.
The Dickson family have more in the pipeline for their backyard gin baby, hinting of a new masterclass and blending experience to be launched soon.
“In the new experience, guests will learn about the history of gin, how we distil our own and discover the flavour profiles of our own three signature gin range,” Trudy says.
“We will then let them explore their own palette and mix their own botanicals to create a personalised gin for them to take home. So you get to look and taste, but it’s all about the hands-on experience to bring all those senses into play.”
Ambleside Distillers also offers a range of cocktails using their three signature gins, too. We were lucky enough to have Trudy share her favourite recipe with us, using her own No.8 Botanical Gin.
Give the cocktail a try at home or visit Ambleside Distillers to experience first-hand the passion from the Dickson family.
The Ambleside Distillers Tasting Bar is open every Thursday and Friday 12pm to 6pm and every weekend 11am to 6pm.
Shake all the ingredients with a couple of ice cubes, pour straight into a glass and top with Sanpellegrino Limonata. Garnish with a small sprig of mint and dehydrated kiwi fruit (if you want to get a little fancy).