Family-owned distillery lures gin lovers to Hahndorf

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By Melissa Keogh

An Adelaide Hills family’s curiosity for the world of gin making has led to the establishment of Hahndorf’s first distillery.

Steve, Trudy and son Matt Dickson are behind Hahndorf tasting room and small-batch distillery, Ambleside Distillers, which is already quenching thirsts around town.

All three family members come from different industries, with Matt in construction, Trudy running a recruitment agency and Steve holding 35 years of experience in the health sector.

But it was a six-month trip to the UK that opened Matt’s eyes to the world of gin making, prompting the family to have a shot at launching a distillery and tasting room.

Matt Dickson was inspired to explore gin making after time spent in the UK.

“There was this whole gin revival in London and it wasn’t just about the standard London dry gin, I experienced many boutique gins and just fell in love with it,” Matt says.

“Mum and Dad also visited the UK and when we were back in Australia we introduced ourselves to many of the boutique gins, made with really good tonic water and garnishes.

“For us it was about creating gins we loved and that were of a very high quality and taste that hopefully many others would enjoy.”

With Matt’s experience in the construction industry, the Dicksons built the tasting room and distillery on the family’s property on the corner of Mount Barker and Ambleside roads.

Ambleside has three signature gin styles, crafted on site.

The tasting room’s fit out is simple and modern, incorporating textures such as brickwork and timber.

Crafted and hand-bottled on site are three signature styles, the Big Dry Gin, No. 8 Botanical Gin and Small Acre Gin.

Ambleside Distillers grows some of the botanicals on the property, including thyme and rosemary, while other flavours including jalapeno and citrus are sourced locally where possible.

Matt says that while wine is one of South Australia’s most dominant industries, the family wanted to get in on the state’s blossoming spirit scene.

Platters featuring local produce can be enjoyed with a gin cocktail, overlooking Hahndorf’s rural landscape.

He says the Adelaide Hills region was also cementing itself as one of the premier food and wine areas on offer to visitors.

“Each of the regions is really booming and the Hills is really coming into its own,” Matt says.

“We wanted to get in line with the other businesses in Hahndorf, because if you’re planning a trip to the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is where you want to be headed.

“This was an opportunity for us to become a part of a different section of the food and beverage industry, not just wine.”

Steve says the state’s distilling scene had welcomed the Ambleside operation with open arms.

“We’ve had four different distillers visit us and say ‘welcome to the family, it’s good to have you on board’,” he says.

Ambleside Distillers offers platters featuring local cheeses and produce that can be enjoyed on the deck.

Curious about how it all works? The distilling equipment is in view from the tasting room.

Ambleside Distillers is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am–6pm.

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