Applewood Distillery

Next in our distillery series, we take a look at Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

Up in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia is a craft distillery making waves in the Australian craft distilling scene.

Applewood Distillery

Applewood Distillery is owned by Brendan and Laura Carter who also produce Unico Zelo wines as well as perfumes and fragrances under the Nomad label. The distillery is located at The Old Gumeracha Cold Stores which were built in the 1920s for the cold storage of apples before they were exported to the United Kingdom. The space has since been converted to house a craft distillery.

Here is a snapshot of some of the Applewood Distillery spirits along with tasting notes and serving suggestions.

Applewood Distillery Gin

Applewood Distillery Gin (44% ABV) is the spirits produced by the distillery. Made from a grape-based spirit, the gin is distilled using from juniper, coriander, angelica root, ginger root, lemon myrtle, earl grey tea, lavender, vanilla, lemon and orange peel. The gin has floral and citrus aromas and the palate is fresh and bright with juniper, coriander upfront followed by a hit of spice from the ginger. Most pleasant to sip on its own and it makes a fine dry martini.

Applewood Distillery Sake Gin

A limited release, Applewood Salt and Sake Gin (40% ABV) is made using saltbush foraged from Aldinga beach on the Fleurieu Peninsula with Japanese Sake added. The gin is still juniper and citrus forward with a hint of a savoury note on the nose. The palate has a very subtle and delicate savoury influence and finishes with warm heat from the spice. The salinity from the saltbush botanical and minerality from the sake are very subtle and the gin is very close in flavour profile to the original gin above.

The ingredients lend themselves well to a dry Martini, with a classic dry vermouth, a touch of salt and strips of nori as garnish. Alternatively, try it a little dirty such as in the Saltini cocktail recipe.

Applewood Distillery Lavender Gin

Lavender is used as a botanical in some gins such as Aviation Gin and Monkey 47 but Applewood Distillery took it a step further. Quoting the website, “We’ve always been intrigued by the practice of ‘torpedo-hopping’ beer for the intense resinous and green aromatics that this lovely flower can lend – and to put a unique spin on it – we decided to ‘torpedo-dry-lavender’ our citrus based gin prior to bottling.”

The result is Applewood Distillery Lavender Gin (43% ABV), very pale amber in colour with floral and earthy aromas with top lavender notes. The palate is redolent with lavender leaving the juniper and citrus at the back. Smooth, viscous on the palate, it makes a refreshing gin and tonic with CAPI Dry, garnished with lime and lavender.

Økar and Red Økar

The next two products are an exciting addition to Australian craft distilling. Red Økar and Økar are both Amari, a bitter style aperitif that have been likened to Campari and Aperol respectively. The name is a play on the word ochre and at the heart of liquid are native Australian Riberries, a variety of Lilly Pilly which has tartness and bark-like bitterness. Other ingredients include lemon myrtle, gentian root, licorice root, wormwood, sweet orange peel, cassia bark and cinchona bark.

Økar (12%) is a low alcohol aperitif that is well suited to spritzers. It’s light and soft in bitterness with a hint of sweetness and an almost grapefruit character. Simply add sparkling wine or a dry Prosecco, preferably in a 1:1 ratio as the flavour is rather mild and garnish with an orange peel.

Red Økar (26%) comes with more pronounced bitterness, riberry intensity and more herbal notes than its lower alcohol sibling. The nose is dry, woody and dusky and the palate is earthy with a bitter backbone. Red Okar goes well with Applewood gin and is well suited to a Negroni and an Americano. It can also be enjoyed neat on ice.

Both liquids are cloudy and it’s not explained whether it’s due to lack of filtration or the recipe. Both aperitifs are far removed from Campari and Aperol and we find the comparison to these Italian counterparts to be very loose. Nonetheless, they are in a class of their own and we would like to try more creative uses of Red Okar in cocktails.

Applewood Distillery Limoncello

Applewood Limoncello is made from two types of lemons grown in Montacute Valley, Adelaide Hills, a little mandarin peel and pure Adelaide Hills water. Serve it chilled, on ice or in a spritzer.

Applewood spirits come in beautiful 500 ml wax-sealed bottles with a cork stopper. You can get them via the distillery website and through independent retailers.

For more distilleries, visit the Australian Distillery Directory.

Applewood Distillery
24 Victoria St, Gumeracha SA 5233


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.

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