I got into gin purely because I was following the crowd. It seemed to be the cool thing to do, so I jumped right in. I didn’t mind it, but didn’t really know much, nodding along and talking about flavours and garnishes… until I popped past Ambleside Distillery.

This distillery on the edge of Hahndorf welcomed me with open arms and its unpretentious vibe. Better still, the story behind it all drew me in and I found myself a love affair with this invigorating spirit.

Ambleside was created by a family of three: mum (Trudy), dad (Steve), and son (Matt). And how cute is this — they each made their own gin!

1. No. 8 Botanical Gin — this soft and smooth gin sings of Trudy’s love of citrus flavours, highlighted by organic oranges from our very own Riverland. Complemented by the flavours of star anise and coriander seeds, it’s perfect with floral tonic water and a slice or two of dehydrated orange.

Image credit :: @amblesidedistillers

2. Small Acre Gin — don’t be fooled, there’s nothing small about the big flavour in this punchy baby that contains 12 botanicals and is the handy work of Steve, patriarch of the crew. Inspired by memories of his grandmother, it speaks of quirky ingredients such as thyme, rhubarb, cloves and granny smith apples.

Image credit :: @amblesidedistillers

3. Big Dry Gin — the name says it all! The robust flavours speak of Matt’s penchant for boldness — it’s “big, dry, peppery but not too spicy”. Jalapeños give it an extra kick that’s complemented by the dry taste of juniper berries. Perfect for a martini with a splash of vermouth and a green olive.

Image credit :: @amblesidedistillers

With this distinct range, there’s plenty of good-natured ribbing in the family, with Trudy keeping them all in check with a weekly leader board of who’s sold the most!

Image credit :: @amblesidedistillers

What’s on the menu? 

At Ambleside, nothing’s been left to chance. Experienced staff are down-to-earth and generous with their time, happily walking you through a casual cocktail, tasting flights, a distillery tour, a Gin blending masterclass, or even a special event. Lauren even kicked off her 30th birthday wine tour here!

On arrival, you’ll stroll along the Botanical Walk, which is flourishing with the range of botanicals used for distilling and garnishes — each one grown on site and chosen to draw out the flavours of every cocktail.

The spacious open plan bar is all polished concrete, clean carpentry (done by Matt) and a reclaimed brick wall that gives a rustic vibe. It’s easy to relax on the large deck with one of their delicious platters, overlooking Hans Heysen’s hills, full of roaming cows — the perfect rural escape that feels a million miles away, but is just a short trip up the freeway.

How did it all begin? 

In his early 20s, Matt was living in London — the city that initially made gin popular — and got swept up in the revival. He was inspired by the rise of iconic brands, including Sipsmith and Fever-Tree Tonic and came home with a dream.

Luck was on Matt’s side… the coolest parents on the planet said a resounding ‘YES’ and the trio put their heads and hands together to create a mind blowing distillery on their family property.

Just metres from the family house, they distill, bottle and label every litre of gin, but this is no back door operation. It’s entirely slick! They’ve even roped in Matt’s gorgeous partner, Bella, who runs their marketing, and all of the crew spend time behind the bar so you’re likely to meet one or more of them when you pop in.

What Ambleside Distillers are doing speaks volumes for putting SA gin on the tourism map. Best of all, the faces behind it are humble, supportive of their fellow spirit-makers in the region, and so loveable, you’ll want to hug each of them before you leave… if you can possibly put down your armful of gin!

Em xx

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Em Worthington

Em Worthington

Writer and Content Creator for Adelady, her heart starts racing at the sight of a whiteboard or mere mention of a brainstorm.

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