Down a gravel driveway, lined with small citrus trees, you come around a bend and see…. Stratford-upon-Avon. Or is it Heidelberg perhaps?
Mount Tamborine Distillery, about an hour from Brisbane up the winding Mt Tamborine is totally, utterly unique. The old organic citrus farm was bought by Michael & Alla Ward in 1992. They realised that they couldn’t sell a lot of their fruit because, being organic, it was imperfect -looking. Loathe to waste it, they decided to use it in alcohol. Alla, a Ukranian, had grown up watching her father with his home-made still after all. The problem was, getting a license to operate a still here, was not quite the same as her (presumably ad hoc) father’s version in the Ukraine.
In fact, Alla told me some years ago, she had to apply for the same license that Bundaberg Rum has, despite the fact she has a tiny little pot still. They are still one of the few people to have a private distilling license. At the time, I talked with her in her ‘office’ where classical music played, and Alla, looking like the epitome of a classical Eastern European was wearing a colourful headscarf. It all looked like a science experiment-hand to imagine that the rows & rows of colourfully painted bottles were created here, by hand, by Alla herself.
You have to wonder where husband Michale gets his enthusiasm. He is an eccentric and always very animated Englishman. Between them, they produce some incredible tasting liquors, that will definitely appeal to those who like to experiment with cocktails or just an after dinner tipple. I have a few earmarked for some culinary experimentation. I especially like the Turkish delight, which is more rose than chocolate, but I reckon would go beautifully with a steamed dark chocolate pudding.
For $5 (payable only if you don’t buy anything) you get to taste through a pretty incredible range, from hibiscus to wattle toffee. One of my faves though (and I bought a bottle last weekend) is the limoncello. It has a pure fruit taste that is quite unlike the Italian one. (and I’m a fan of that too). It’s more fruit than alcohol- you can taste the ‘yellow’ of the lemon in it, as if it’s made of skin, pulp, everything.
Most bottles are around $40 and the stack of awards they’ve won world wide attest to just how good they are. Unfortunately, they’re not open on Sundays, the classic, visit Tamborine day, but it’s definitely worth making the effort on other days. Just make sure to designate a driver.
TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN DISTILLERY
87-91 Beacon Road
Ph 07 5545 3452