Liqueur Tasting at Tamborine Mountain Distillery

Australia is, of course world-famous for its amazing wines. But did you know they also have some wonderful distilleries? My husband and I got the opportunity to visit one of them in November – the Tamborine Mountain Distillery.

Tamborine Mountain Distillery logo

Tamborine Mountain is located in South East Queensland in the Gold Coast Hinterland region. It’s about a 45-minute drive Northwest from Surfers Paradise, so it’s a perfect day-trip if you’re staying in this area.

Established in 1993, Tamborine Mountain Distillery is considered to be Australia’s smallest pot still distillery. This small-scale approach extends to the buildings in their visitor center, which aren’t huge warehouse-style facilities. In fact, it feels more like you’re walking into a small, Germanic village:

Their large production facility is actually about 400m away. So when you visit, you don’t have to walk into an industrial, steel-clad building. Instead, you get this lovely, welcoming aesthetic:

Even though they’re small scale producers, they make everything here; from schnapps, fruit brandy, gin and vodka, to flavoured liqueurs. Honestly, their variety was mind-boggling!

See all those awards on their top shelf? This distillery has won hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of awards for their products, both in Australia and all over the world. This speaks volumes about a small-scale company that’s family-owned and operated!

We decided that with such a huge selection to choose from, that a liqueur tasting was in order. Luckily they offer tastings, for a really reasonable price too: 5 samples for $5 AU. The hardest part was deciding which ones to try!

Of course they make many “standard” liqueur flavours, such as chocolate, mint, cherry, and so forth. But they also make some that you could classify as being unique. Wattle toffee, anyone?

We had to ask about this one. Toffee we get, but what’s a wattle?

The wattle plant is also known as acacia pycnantha, a tree native to southeastern Australia. The fragrant golden flowers are often used in perfumes and honey production. And, obviously, the plant can also be used as a flavouring in liqueur!

The flavour could best be described as caramel popcorn. The toffee bit of course imparted that hint of burnt sugar, while the wattle, I assume was the ingredient that added almost a popcorn note to it. We had been looking for locally-made Australian liqueurs to bring home, and this also had an ingredient native to the area. It was the best of both worlds, so we added it to our shopping list.

The distillery had the choice of a larger bottle, which was a better value, or a smaller bottle, which was hand-painted. We chose the hand-painted bottle, which will look great on our bar!

Between Mark and myself, we decided to go with two tastings for $10, which meant we could swap and both try 10 of their liqueurs. We tried the following:

  • wattle toffee
  • lemon myrtle
  • B.O.S.C. (Bells of St. Clements) – mostly citrus-based, tastes like Chrismtas!
  • hibiscus
  • lychee & elderflower
  • musk
  • turkish delight
  • absinthe
  • Australian herbal liqueur
  • lilly pilly gin

This is the lilly pilly gin, notice the pale pink colour:

Lilly pilly (or riberry) is a tropical tree native to Australia. The berries resemble tightly-packed blueberries, but are dark rose in color and taste a bit like cranberries. It added a lovely note to the gin.

This is the absinthe. Look at that gorgeous spring green shade! There was a fellow standing beside us and he raved about their absinthe; he had purchased more than a few bottles himself.

I particularly liked the turkish delight liqueur, which had a top note of rose petals, but the aftertaste brought out the chocolate flavour. It was really smooth and decadent. But the most unusual in the bunch for me was the musk liqueur. They have musk-flavoured candies in Australia that I’d never tried, but I know what musk smells like in perfume. The musk liqueur was definitely perfumey. I kind of liked it though. I wonder if it would combine well with the gin….

After we chose which bottles to purchase, we walked around the store a bit to see what other goodies they had:

They had some great gift sets and other knick-knacks on hand, too. Better yet, they’re great at packing things for travel!

We walked out into the bright sun with three bottles of locally-made liqueurs from this fabulous little stop-over on our visit to Tamborine Mountain. I can’t wait to open them and review them one by one in the future!

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