Hurdle Creek Still gin distillery is down a long dirt road in Bobinawarrah, at the heart of the Milawa gourmet region.
Visit the cellar door for an education in gin making. All of the machinery is there, bubbling and filtering right on-site. Owners Simon Brooke-Taylor and Wendy Williams will happily walk you through the whole process. The signature Yardarm gin is infused with juniper from Montenegro, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pink peppercorns, lemon myrtle and most unusually, hops. The duo grows many of the botanicals on site.
The pair also produces the Evolution Aniseed Gin (infused with aniseed, liquorice root, fennel and star anise), and a “Navy Strength”, Dutch-style gin.
Hurdle Creek is one of a few stills that produces its own base spirit, rather than mixing botanicals into spirit bought from elsewhere. Hurdle uses a grain base, combining local barley and oats with hot water to convert the starches to sugar – the same process that kickstarts beer. (Brooke-Taylor used to work in breweries in the UK and Australia.)
Once the sweet wash from the mash is cooled and fermented, the duo adds a blend of beer yeast sourced from Black Dog Brewery, and feeds the spent grains to its cattle. The fermented wash is distilled a minimum of three times to produce a clean, dry spirit that’s big on flavour.