You know the wine so shake things up with a sip-stop at a distillery in the Hunter Valley.
Rolling green hills, rose-freckled vines and swirly strawberry sunsets – name us a more fitting backdrop for getting giggly over a few G&Ts. While the region is one of Australia’s premium wine countries, spirits have grown in momentum in recent years and the crafty folk crushing grapes are turning their attention to the harder stuff. Silky smooth gins, sweet vodkas, shockingly good moonshine and more. There’s no stopping the creativity at any given distillery in the Hunter Valley.
Kawal Rock Distillery
A fuss-free celebration of wine-based spirits and natural bushland, Kawal Rock Distillery is so charming you don’t even need to like gin to get caught up in the fun. Located 20 minutes from Pokolbin and surrounded by stunning mountain ranges, it angles your tasting experience towards several outdoor zones where sensational views abound.
Enjoy a sundowner outside at the Kawal Rock Distillery.
You’ll find its adored ‘The Girls on the Hill’ gin range and moonshine being poured at the cellar door, a sight in itself due to its impeccable craftsmanship out of wine barrel timber, and you’re also invited to jump on board ‘Picnic in The Sky’ where a helicopter will zoom you, your guest and a gourmet picnic up to a stunning rock formation on Sentry Mountain (located on-site) to soak it all up from an entirely unforgettable vantage point.
A tasting costs $25 and includes three gins, a tonic or soda and a glass of Kawal Rocks’ Twin Eagles Moscato.
Sip your way through Kawal Rock Distillery’s hand-crafted bespoke spirits and wines.
Address: 260 Milbrodale Road, Fordwich
The region’s most famous spirit studio, Hunter Distillery, attracts consistent crowds for its top-notch range of the hard stuff including vodkas, liqueurs, Schnapps and gins, headed up by the award-winning Copperwave Distilled Gin.
Located along Broke Road right near Tyrrell’s vineyard in the heart of the Hunter Valley, this place is a well-oiled machine, rolling visitors into its factory-style cellar door to sample the all-organic fruits of its labour very efficiently.
Serious shoppers will love the experience as a series of test tubes provide samples of everything you’re hankering for at just $5 per person, whereas those looking for a picturesque spot to unwind (and are really only in the Hunter for wine) might be happier elsewhere.
Address: 1686 Broke Road, Pokolbin
An ultra-modern building set against aisles of vines and gum trees, Pokolbin Distillery is warm and inviting from the moment you spot it.
The small-batch distillery in the Hunter Valley is located right in the thick of Broke Road, opposite Hope Estate, and whips up its own gins, vodkas and liqueurs inspired by the owners’ Polish roots as well as native Aussie ingredients. It’s evident in the Bush Gin and Native Plum Finger Lime blend, leaning on the flavours of the Davidson Plum.
Before you go, don’t miss their Salted Caramel vodka for obvious reasons. Tastings cost $15 per person.
Address: 2198 Broke Road, Pokolbin
The small-batch distillery is renowned for its own gins, vodkas and liqueurs. (Image: Destination NSW)
And you thought Hope Estate’s finest contributions peaked with 2017’s Bruce Springsteen concert. The legendary wine aficionados of the Hunter Valley, home to countless outdoor events in their enormous amphitheatre, launched the Hope Distillery in 2020.
Soak up the stunning views (and sunset) with a tasting at Hope Estate. (Image: Destination NSW)
Cranking out gin, vodka, ouzo, and moonshine from their central Broke Road headquarters and you can purchase sample paddles for $20 a pop out of their cellar door. They’re beautifully presented, accompanied with garnishes, a bucket of ice and mixers.
Make time to explore the Hope Distillery property while you’re there. (Image: Destination NSW)
Once you’re satisfied with spirits, move onto Hope Estate’s hoppy brews and round the day out with their original offering: far-too-drinkable vino. If you’re staying for lunch, they can also organise a pre-booked pizza package and there’s a range of grab-and-devour snacks over the bench.
Address: 2213 Broke Road, Pokolbin
You’ve probably walked past it a bunch of times while exploring the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village but Small Mouth is worth a pit stop. The distillery in the Hunter Valley is hard to miss given the vivid rainbow of gins, vodkas, rum and liqueurs splashed with edible glitter.
Find Small Mouth tucked away in the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village.
In-store tastings are free so sampling the likes of their Berry Pink Gin, Chocolate Hazelnut Vodka, Espresso Liqueur and Spiced Rum is basically non-negotiable. It’s a small-batch business but these flavour combinations pack a supersized punch.
Address: Shop 20, 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin
The flavour combinations here are delightfully memorable.
A family-run distillery in the Hunter Valley, KissOfire is another pit-stop located within the Hunter Valley Garden Shopping Village. Home to 24 Butterscotch drops spanning all the way from the brand’s original and best-known Chilli variety through to summer classics like Lychee and Pineapple, the tiny but mighty store doesn’t serve as a cellar door but tastings are offered by friendly staff during your visit.
Address: Shop 2A, 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin
Newcastle Distilling Co.
A sprawling rustic homestead immersed in lush greenery, Newcastle Distilling Co. is an extremely scenic distillery in the Hunter Valley offering an enormous range of spirits.
Small batch, yes, but their inventive chops are limitless as moonshine, single malt whisky, vodka, gin, rum, brandy, liqueurs, limoncello and black sambuca fill the shelves. There are even limited-edition creations including the cheeky House Party range of vodkas including Rocky Road, Sex On The Beach, BubbleYum and Splice.
Make a day of your visit if you’re in town Thursday to Monday thanks to the on-site kitchen opening its doors to dish out pub classics, pizzas, share platters, kids’ meals and more. A mammoth deck and separate bar keep the good times rolling.
Address: 16 Pokolbin Mountain Road, Pokolbin
It’s more famous for its wines but Millbrook Estate also crafts spirits, namely brandy and liqueurs.
In the way of liqueurs, the flavours are funky – Aniseed, Ginger, Orange and Lemon – however the seven-year-old liqueur brandy gets a great wrap from customers who have likened it to cognac.
There’s a tasting room for small groups at this distillery in the Hunter Valley plus there’s an underground wine cellar built out of an old quarry that’s worth a squiz.
Address: 1617 Mount View Road, Millbrook
The brand is household-renowned, but did you know Tempus Two knocks up its own gin too? One of the Hunter Valley’s most frequented wine destinations, polished and sleek from the fit-out to its staff, offers wine-based gin and a very impressive 30-minute tasting experience at its huge Broke Road headquarters, priced at $20 per person.
Tempus Two is renowned for its wines but you’ll also find a selection of wine-based gin too. (Image: Chris Elfes)
The Prosecco Gin, Wild Botanical Gin and Shiraz Gin are all presented in a private tasting room alongside six other gin and tonic (or gin and soda) tasters, cheese and chocolate – and if cheese and chocolate is your thing, we’ve curated a trail to consume the best in the Hunter; it starts just next door to Tempus Two.
Address: Pavillion, D/2144 Broke Road, Pokolbin
Tamburlaine Organic Wines
Tamburlaine Organic Wines, located just past Brokenwood on McDonalds Road in the middle of Pokolbin, has jumped on the gin train, releasing their own Herding Cats range.
Three unique blends are distilled on the Instagram-friendly property dotted with thriving plants and vines: Sunday Bloody Sunday, a blood orange-based gin, Double Dutch with coriander, cardamon and citrus, and That’s Amore, an Italian-inspired blend.
They aren’t gin specific, but tastings are organised at the cellar door as well as guided tours if you fall head over heels with the site and struggle to leave.
Soak up lush greenery at Tamburlaine Organic Wines. (Image: Destination NSW)
Address: 358 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin
Already a fan of the region’s most famous belltower? Then you’re probably all over Bimbadgen, the stunning winery on McDonalds Road, and its Night Merchant spirits range.
The striking Bimbadgen bell tower is famous in these parts. (Image: Tim Pascoe)
Created by the same genius team who craft the winery’s sensational wine, two releases were on the menu when we last visited. The first, a smooth Makers Vodka infused with sandalwood and the second, a Makers Gin balancing 12 botanicals and too-easily devoured straight up.
Cellar door tastings start from $10 per person and there are two beautiful long lunch spots – Esca Bimbadgen offering a wine and food pairing experience and Bimbadgen Wood Fire Pizza nailing casual courtyard vibes — to cut loose in.
Step into the Bimbadgen cellar door for a tasting. (Image: Beau Pilgrim)
Need somewhere to sleep it off? The Bimbadgen Homestead and Cottage accommodates up to eight guests and the four-bedroom Bimbadgen Guesthouse is also on hand to help spoil a similar-sized clan.
Address: 790 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin