In the more-than-130-year-old Royal Hotel sits Darling Distillery, a small-scale urban gin producer. Co-founders Karlos Gudic (whose family has owned the pub since the ’80s), Sean Waddingham and Ben Evans (founder and former owner of St David Dairy) quietly fitted out the old pub’s interiors in 2020, making room for the 300-litre still that makes just two signature gins: the classic Darling Gin, and a coffee- and cacao-infused number.
Darling Distillery is named after Clifton Hill’s picturesque gardens, just across Hoddle Street, and the eponymous Darling Gin is also an ode to the green space. Distilled with botanicals such as rosemary, orange, green tea, lemongrass and pepperberry, the gin’s finish is creamy and smooth, rounded off with cultured butter (a nod to Evans’s past) and local honey. Meanwhile, the Coffee Gin is infused with cacao nibs, hazelnuts and wattleseed over seven days, before being blended with cold-drip coffee from Abbotsford’s Coffee Supreme and a hint of date.
The space operates mostly as a cellar door, with the Darling retail lab and tasting room opening on the last Friday of every month. Visit for free tastings and to pick up a bottle or two – or get a refill – as well as the chance to chat with the owners and learn more about their set-up.
Open last Friday of every month from 3pm–8pm.
Phone: No phone
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