WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU ORANGE PEEL – MAKE ORANGE GIN

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Or Quandong Gin, or Plum Apertivo, or Amaro. Bringing a taste of Italy to Spotswood. We do seem to like a bit of a tipple this side of the river and not just any old bathtub gin or stock standard VB either. We do like it fruity and fancy or herbal and healthy and we also like to keep it local.

We are finding brewers and distillers agree with us and are making the west the place to hang out. Melbourne’s only female run artisan brewery Two Birds started it off with their creative take on beers as well as offering hospitality at their brewery in Spotswood. Now get ready for locally produced spirits. Hidden in a tiny warehouse in Spotswood, Autonomy Distillers have started production of a range of native Australian aperitifs, gins and sustainable liqueurs.

With long term plans to open a tasting room for now they are focused on manufacturing. But in time they’d love to see the distillery expand into a bar where people can enjoy the traditional aperitivo hour and see where their drink really comes from. How very European.

Founder Ash Sutherland spent his career as an environmental consultant across Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Europe & has seen first hand the devastating impact consumerism and waste has on our environment. He always wanted to establish a sustainable Melbourne-based distillery reflecting a taste of Australia but Autonomy Distillers wasn’t born until he took a trip to Italy and fell in love with the culture of drinking aperitifs and digestifs. He & partner Fern were amazed by all the different aperitifs and digestifs on offer, and would bar hop all afternoon trying the well-known amaros, as well as some absolute gems made in-house by the bartender. They found the aperitivo hour concept of a drink and small bite to eat just so cool and very, very Melbourne and wanted to bring the concept home and create a local version.

Wanting to make something as interesting and complex as an Italian amaro Ash started tinkering with native Australian ingredients and was surprised just how many there were. Australia has more than 1,500 native species of edible plants, yet so much of what we consume is imported. By using native Australian botanicals, he supports local growers and significantly reduces food miles.

Learning about all the different species of edible Australian plants was a huge undertaking . Together he & Fern began building a library of individual flavour tinctures from dozens of different native botanicals. Sitting down and learning about the flavour profile of each one and then piecing together flavours in a way that would taste delicious was the next part of the puzzle.

Creating an amaro using native ingredients, such as peppermint gum, lemon myrtle and mountain pepperberry, was the perfect fit with Autonomy’s values.

Minimising their environmental footprint, their sustainability extends to other areas of production, from using base spirits made from the byproducts of wine making, to collecting citrus peels left over from Melbourne juice company, Market Juice Co. – with the ultimate goal is to operate a distillery that is a completely closed loop.

Come and taste and try and meet the distillers at the Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Market the 4th Saturday of every month at Spotswood Kingsville RSL 63 The Avenue Spotswood

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