Don’t like gin? Distiller Nicole Durdin says you’re not looking hard enough. “Gin is a world of endless possibilities,” she says. “There’s a gin out there you’ll like. You just have to try enough to find it.”
A good place to start is Seppeltsfield Road Distillers, the new small-batch distillery and tasting room she and husband Jon opened last weekend.
Neither comes from a distilling background. Nicole, a classical musician, is seventh-generation Barossan. Her family’s roots are in wine. She and Jon were living in the UK when the gin bug bit. He was working as a finance director for a military helicopter company and she was finding it difficult to secure work. To put it simply, she was bored.
Jon suggested she try making gin. It was a throwaway comment, but it stuck. Not that she had any experience, other than drinking it. “We’ve always loved gin but we knew nothing about it,” she says.
Nicole spent the next few years researching craft distilling, visited distilleries; she took part in every course and workshop she could find, and looked into the industry back home in Australia.
“Three years ago, the craft distilling industry in Australia was a fraction of what it is today,” she says. When the couple moved back to Australia in late 2016, the wheels were already in motion. They found a property on Seppeltsfield Road (essentially a paddock) and began construction of their dream on the side of a Marananga hill.
In late 2017, a still from Stuttgart manufacturers Carl arrived in South Australia. “We wanted to get a German [still] because they’re so world renowned for their quality and capability.”
They called it “Christine”, after Nicole’s grandmother. “The still came over on a boat. It was a bit terrifying because we went and picked her up ourselves from the dock. We hired a truck and we drove it about 50 kilometres an hour to the Barossa.”
The still was the first thing installed; the rest was built around it. The distillery and tasting room is constructed from eight shipping containers and plenty of glass for beautiful Barossa views. The couple designed the structure and enlisted Tanunda’s JBG Architects to do the rest.
“One of the things that we love about containers is they give defined space,” Nicole says.
It’s an eye-catching structure. Cedar cladding on the exterior gives it a modern treehouse feel. Inside, the original shipping container floors remain.
Seppeltsfield Road Distillers officially opened on Saturday September 1. Over the bar, it’s all about three launch gins: the House Gin, Barossa Dry and Savoury Allsorts. The gin is distilled and bottled on-site.
“We love the idea of using local botanicals rather than necessarily natives. If we can get something at our back door, that appeals to us,” Nicole says. “Both the Barossa Dry and the House Gin use pink peppercorns that we picked from Heritage Wines just up the road.”
Blooms from Lavender on Seppeltsfield are used, too. “The house gin is much less juniper-forward than what the Barossa Dry is. It’s much more approachable.”
The pair is already winning awards, including gold for the House Gin at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition, and silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. The Barossa Dry was awarded bronze in the London Dry category at the International Spirits Competition.
A fridge full of local produce and French cheese complements the beverages with a DIY platter system.