The distillery is housed in a 1914 landmark building which was once the Renmano winery site. It has also been a distillery before, established by the Barossa’s Chateau Tanunda. Due to financial problems it was bought out by a cooperative of local fruit growers and became the Renmark Growers Distillery Company Limited, becoming the first cooperative of its kind in Australia. A number of factors caused it to stop operating in 2002, but 100 years from its beginnings in 2014, the building and distillery was taken over by the well known South Australian family owned business, Bickfords. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Now, the old and new blend in the tasting room, restaurant and outdoor dining area, which is popular with locals and people making the trip from Adelaide, around 260 kilometres away.
Gin, vodka, rum, brandy and whiskey are all made on the premises and the colourful gins and bottle labels are the first things that grab your attention.
The company commissions artists to design their labels and the current range features artwork created by Victorian artist Chrysa Koukoura and South Australian artists, Claire Ishino, Jo Spargo and Garry Duncan.
When you visit you can choose from three different tasting flights named, Time and Passion ( a selection of brandies), Palate Liberator (vodka, gin, brandy and whiskey) or Heart and Soul, a taste of 3 gin varieties which we opted for. We shared the gin flight between two of us and it’s delivered to your table by one of the staff members, who takes you through the best way to savour the gins, which include aromatics and tonic water to add as you go.
The food on offer includes wood oven pizzas, burgers, steak and more all using local ingredients and some with brandy and ale from the distillery in the recipes. The Bickfords company also makes its own beer, Vale Ale, so apart from spirits you can also have beer, cocktails, cider and their own range of soft drinks. My recommendations would be the Navy gin, Barrel aged gin and you’ve got to try the Violet gin and tonic if only for the colour!
We visited on a week day and the venue was pretty busy then and as well as tasting and dining in, you can also take a distillery tour to see the century old copper still and the barrel hall.
At the time of writing, 23rd Street distillery is open Monday to Wednesdays and Sunday 10am to 4pm, and Thursday to Saturdays 10am to 10pm. Tasting flights are $15 each and you can find the distillery on the corner of 23rd Street and Renmark Avenue.