The Bellarine Peninsula is chock-full of award-winning wineries, but after the closure of Corio Distillery in the 1980s, not a single distillery called this region home. This was remedied in 2015 when Bellarine Distillery was established and the Whiskery cellar door popped up on the former site of a chicken farm. Since then, all spirits have been produced on-site, and the space has been churning out a range of award-winning gins and single malt whiskies
The exterior landscaping has created a lush, fairytale beer garden complete with grassy picnic pods, and in the cooler months, there are blanket-filled baskets scattered about. The cellar door exudes a rustic farmhouse vibe, making for a warm, unpretentious atmosphere for sipping spirits. During winter, the best spot in the house is by the crackling fireplace where you can sink into large leather armchairs.
There are several cocktails on offer, including the Wild Roospberry made with the Trooper and the Roo gin, Lillet Blanc, cinnamon, lemon and wild raspberry tonic, but you'd be remiss not to start with a gin tasting paddle. It's the best way to get to know this special range of gins, and if you're not so fond of neat spirits, try this special trick for tasting like a professional.
At the time of writing, the permanent range of gins consists of five offerings: the zesty, citrus-forward Teddy and the Fox, the Scotchmans Hill pinot noir barrel-aged Rosey and the Rabbits, the savoury and navy-strength Old Dodger, the sweet and chocolatey Trooper and the Roo and Bear and the Koalas, which tastes as if you've just gone for a walk through an Australian coastal rainforest. All of the gins are named after one of the family's beloved dogs, with the exception of Bear and the Koalas, which is named after a koala detection dog who has been deployed to bushfire zones for rescue efforts.
This place is mostly about imbibing, so as far as food goes, the menu is fairly sparse. That being said, if you start to get a bit peckish while tasting, you can line your stomach with cheese, seafood and terrine platters and a variety of pizzas.