Options abound when the time comes for an afternoon beverage. The Shoalhaven region’s reputation for quality vino is well-established, but the past few years have seen its craft beer and spirits trade really blossom.
First up, we have Old Salt Distillery, tucked away in an industrial estate in South Nowra. This small-batch distillery produces its own spirits, fruit liqueurs, beers, seltzers and sodas. That feat is admirable in itself when you learn it’s just a husband and wife team on the tools. But there’s more: owners Terry and Michelle Robinson were head chef and pastry chef respectively of iconic former Sydney restaurant Sepia. So, when the distillery opens its doors to patrons on Fridays and Saturdays, it also fires up a woodfired grill and serves next-level dishes to enjoy alongside your cocktails. We’re talking charred carrots with chimichurri and soft cheese, pork belly with pear and zucchini and a roll stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth roast lamb and gravy.
Down a dirt road in Nowra Hill is Tara Distillery, Shoalhaven’s original craft distillery, established in 2019 by husband and wife team Ben Stephenson and Alarna Doherty. In that short time, Tara Distillery has made its mark, scooping up awards left-right-centre for its core range of gins, vodkas and liqueurs. The couple adopts traditional distilling techniques and some Irish botanicals as a nod to their heritage, including producing Australia’s first legal poitín (a triple-distilled un-aged Irish spirit akin to moonshine). But they all have an unmistakable Shoalhaven flair. The Pot Still Gin includes sea lettuce, foraged from nearby beaches, as one of its 17 botanicals, while the Stern Pony Coffee Liqueur is made with beans from local roaster Hyper Hyper Coffee.