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Savour the Flavours: Exploring Craft Spirits on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula

Last Updated: January 18, 2024

The Mornington Peninsula, 60 minutes south of Melbourne, is a popular tourist destination. It is known for its rugged coastlines, vineyards, and outdoor activities. This scenic region provides a perfect weekend escape for Melbournians and visitors alike. 

The Mornington Peninsula has long been known for its high-quality wines. In recent years, several craft distilleries have emerged in the region that are making their mark on the international drinks scene: Bass and Flinders Distillery (Brandy and Gin), JimmyRum Distillery (Cane Spirit and Rum), and Chief's Son Distillery (Whisky and single malt Vodka). Craft distilling has been rising globally as discerning drinkers move away from mass-produced liquors in favour of artisanal, quality spirits made with care and creativity, and these three distilleries are certainly delivering on all that.

We highly recommend visiting all these distilleries to learn about their processes first-hand and enjoy tastings of their award-winning spirits. The Mornington Peninsula is ideal for exploring a wide variety of flavours, and sipping a superb dram of locally-made rum, brandy, or whisky enhances the experience of an already spectacular destination.

Map of Mornington Peninsula Distilleries

Chief's Son Distillery

Chief's Son Distillery was established in 2013 by Stuart and Naomi McIntosh. Their whisky making journey is an unusual and fortuitous one - Stuart's father Alasdair entered and won a competition (25 words or less) to visit Strathisla Distillery in Scotland - this trip inspired their passion for whisky making, and after three years of trials on a wee alembic still (which is now on display in the upstairs tasting room), Stuart and Naomi commenced their first commercial production of whisky on their current 4,000 litre pot still at their Somerville location. 

They've won multiple awards for their whiskies including Silver at the 2023 World Whiskies Awards for the Chief's Son Cask Expression Porter, and at the 2022 World Whiskies Awards they picked up Gold for 900 Standard Barrel (which was a Category Winner in 2021).

The Chief's Son N7 Single Malt Vodka (named in honour of Naomi, whose birth month is July) won a Silver medal in 2023 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

View of the Chief's Son Distillery production area, and a selection of Chief's Son whisky bottles atop a barrel in the upstairs tasting room.

View of the Chief's Son Distillery production area, and a selection of Chief's Son whisky bottles atop a barrel in the upstairs tasting room.

The name 'Chief's Son' comes from their surname, McIntosh or Mhic an Tòisich in Gaelic; the name means ‘Son of the Chief’. The theme of family runs strongly within Chief's Son Distillery; the winning words Alasdair wrote were “my grandparents passed the love of whisky through my parents to me and I want to make sure my children pass it onto their children”. Their ongoing passion for whisky is evident when you visit the distillery.

Winning entry (by Stuart's father Alasdair McIntosh) for a trip to Strathisla Distillery, 25 words or less, and the reason Chief's Son Distillery came into being: My Grandparents passed the love of Whisky through my Parents to Me and I want to make sure my Children pass it onto their Children.

Winning entry (by Stuart's father Alasdair McIntosh) for a trip to Strathisla Distillery, 25 words or less, and the reason Chief's Son Distillery came into being: My Grandparents passed the love of Whisky through my Parents to Me and I want to make sure my Children pass it onto their Children.

Chief's Son Distillery are open to visitors 7 days a week, from 10 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday, and from 11 am to 4 pm on weekends.

Chief's Son Core & Specialty Tastings

Sample the core range of Chief's Son whiskies for $10 per person, or delve into their finer flavours with a Cask or Specialty tasting for $15 per person.

Chief's Son Tour, Tasting and Cheeseplate

Includes a guided tour with one of the distillers, a sample of Chief's Son whisky directly from the barrel, a cheese platter plus a Chief's Son core range whisky tasting. The tour is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes duration, includes a 100ml bottle of whisky for you to take home, and costs $83 per person (or $69 per person without the cheese plate). Minimum booking of 2 people. Online advanced bookings are highly recommended.

Click on the images below to open in full screen and read more about Chief's Son Distillery.

Bass & Flinders Distillery

Established in 2009 by Wayne and Holly Klintworth, Bass & Flinders were the first distillery to set up on the Mornington Peninsula. Using grapes, and inspired by French Charentaise production methods, Bass & Flinders Distillery produce award winning brandy, liqueurs and gins in a Hybrid Pot Still (combination column and pot still). In 2016 Wayne's daughter Holly took over as Head Distiller, and she's recently acquired a beautiful Charentais Still from France (built in 1941 and formerly used in Cognac production).

Bass & Flinders are open for tastings from Friday to Sunday year round, and during January they are open 7-days a week (11 am to 5 pm).

Bass & Flinders Gin Masterclass

A two-hour session run by one of Bass & Flinders' experienced 'Botanical Advisors' where you will receive a detailed history of gin, an explanation of the distillation process, and get to touch, taste and smell some of gin's finest traditional and native botanicals.

You'll get to sample Bass & Flinders gins before having a go at making your own gin and taking home 500ml of your creation. Gin masterclasses include a cheese platter. The Gin Masterclass costs $175 per person, and online bookings are essential.

Bass & Flinders Gin High Tea

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon of gin and gin-themed sweet and savoury items with a Bass & Flinders High Tea. Food includes mini raspberry cakes with cerise (cherry) gin, limoncello-infused tartlets, and a selection of cheeses and gourmet sandwiches. Choose to sample four Bass & Flinders Gins, with accompanying ice and tonic to mix and taste at your own pace. The High Tea costs $95 per person, and online bookings are highly recommended.

The front of the Bass & Flinders Distillery, est 2009, Dromana, Victoria. Bass & Flinders were the first distillery on the Mornington Peninsula.

The front of the Bass & Flinders Distillery, est 2009, Dromana, Victoria. Bass & Flinders were the first distillery on the Mornington Peninsula.

Bass & Flinder's new (refurbished) Alambic Charentais still. The still was manufactured in 1941 and used in the production of Cognac. It is gas-fired and has a capacity of 1700 litres.

Bass & Flinder's new (refurbished) Alambic Charentais still. The still was manufactured in 1941 and used in the production of Cognac. It is gas-fired and has a capacity of 1700 litres.

Click on the images below to open in full screen and read more about Bass & Flinders Distillery.

JimmyRum Distillery

JimmyRum Distillery is a short stroll from Bass & Flinders and the perfect spot to stop for lunch as they have a some excellent south-east Asian style dishes on offer (we highly recommend the Sambal Fried Chicken, and the Pork Belly). And of course, there's all the rum, including the JimmyRum RumRum, which picked up the World's Best Rum Award in 2023, for a rum produced on a hybrid still (see images below, their still Matilda is a 1,500 litre combination column still and pot still).

Our visit to JimmyRum was the highlight of our trip and we highly recommend you stop by if you're visiting the Mornington Peninsula.

Sit up at the bar opposite Matilda (the still) and do a full tasting of all JimmyRum has to offer, from their Silver Cane Spirit (in Australia, if it is matured for less than 2 years it can't be called rum), to their very funky Dunder Rum (only limited amounts of this are made each year). Our favourites were the Navy Strength, the Oaked Cane Spirit (we tried Batch 21 French Oak), the Queen's Cut, and Roddy loved the Spiced Rum.

Online bookings for lunch and tastings are available. JimmyRum Distillery is open 7-days 10 am to 5 pm for cellar door tasting and sales, and noon til 9pm Friday and Saturday, and noon til 7pm on Sunday, for the restuarant and main bar.

Spice It Your Way Masterclass

A two-hour experience where you'll learn about the craft of making JimmyRum Spiced (Roddy loved this), taste the JimmyRum's range of cane spirits and rums, discover the finer points of top, middle and base notes, and how to combine them to create a balanced blend. You then get to make three versions to your own tastes and take home a 50ml sample of your favourite. You can also purchase larger volume bottles of your version(s), and they'll save your recipe on file so you can order again in future! $95 per person, online advanced bookings are essential. 

Distil Your Own Rum with James

Learn to distil your own rum with owner/head distiller James McPherson. This is a 3 hour interactive experience showcasing behind the scenes of JimmyRum. Enjoy a rum tasting across the four types of JimmyRum products and delve into the distinctive JimmyRum flavour profiles. Blend your own 50ml bottle of rum to take home. Includes cheese & meat platters throughout the morning. $95 per person, online advanced bookings are essential. 

JimmyRum Distillery shed exterior and JimmyRum car parked out front

JimmyRum distillery on the Mornington Peninsula - dont let the outside deceive you - the inside bar looks fantastic and the outdoor dining area is a great spot for lunch and a few rum cocktails.

Tasting Bar and Still JimmyRum

Matilda the still, and the tasting bar, at JimmyRum.

Click on the images below to open in full screen and read more about JimmyRum Distillery.

Best Places to Stay on the Mornington Peninsula

Fancy a quick 18 holes before you head off for a rum tasting? At Links Lodge at The Dunes each room has a balcony with views of the 300-acre golf course, and there is an on-site restaurant and bar to relax in after a long day touring the Peninsula.The Links Lodge is only 3km from the Peninsula Hot Springs and a 20 minute drive to Bass and Flinders Distillery.

RACV Cape Schanck Resort is 4 km from the Cape Schanck Lighthouse, 12 km to the Peninsula Hot Springs and a 20-30 minute drive to Bass & Flinders and JimmyRum (Dromana). Cape Schanck Resort is the perfect location if you're looking for stunning views over Bass Strait and Port Philip Bay.

Port McCrae B&B is located in the town of McCrae, a short 10-minute drive to the Dromana distilleries, and a 5-minute walk from cafes, restaurants and the beach.

Other Things to Do on the Mornington Peninsula

In addition to exploring the beautiful coastal surrounds, there are a myriad of wineries to visit (Ten Minutes by Tractor always get rave reviews), and if you're after a very special occasion, Pt Leo Estate should be on your list (as James at JimmyRum pointed out, it's the only place where you have to walk through a 1-hatted restaurant to get to a 2-hatted restaurant).

About the author

Amanda

Amanda is an Australian-born photographer, digital nomad and whisky lover. Her passion for travel and whisky lead her to Islay, where she fell in love with an Ileach (an Islay native). Amanda and Roddy now share their Spirited Adventures.

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