The Bellarine Peninsula has long been wine country, but there’s always room for something a little stronger. Among the many bayside vineyards of Drysdale is Bellarine Distillery – the only commercial still in the Geelong region since the ’80s – and its cellar door, The Whiskery.

In 2015, founders Russ Watson and Lorelle Warren got some words of encouragement from the godfather of Australian spirits, Bill Lark, and set to distilling gin and whisky on the site of a former chicken farm. Since 2018, the 7.5-acre space has been open for the public to sample the range (most of which is named after the co-owners’ dogs).

Classic gins include the citrus-forward Teddy & the Fox (named for a staffy who chased a fox across Portarlington Road); Rosey & the Rabbits, aged in Scotchmans Hill wine barrels; and a saltbush-infused navy-strength version called The Old Dodger. Whiskies are always being distilled and aged, but you’ll need to be quick to snag a nip before the small-batch releases run out. You’ll find tasting flights of all the spirits here, plus house cocktails that carefully show off each flavour. Local favourites include a riff on the Moscow Mule, a Bloody Mary and an Old Fashioned.

Also on the menu are share-friendly plates of cheese and smoked fish, alongside pizzas with toppings such as blue cheese, pear and walnut. The cellar door itself is a old chicken shed, stripped bare and rebuilt with extended decking for the summer months, and a fireplace where you can sit and sip in the cooler seasons.

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Updated: March 17th, 2023

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