The tide of craft breweries seems to be subsiding and in its place is rising a wave of distilleries. We're certainly not complaining, particularly after tasting the native botanical-infused booze made by newcomer Encounter Coast Spirits.
Introducing Encounter Coast Spirits
In 1802, Matthew Flinders, commander of The Investigator came face to face with Nicolas Baudin, captain of the French ship, Le Geographe at Encounter Bay. They went ashore and drank gin together. At least that’s what Quentin Anderson, owner of Encounter Coast Spirits, likes to imagine. So much so that this story inspired the logo and his very own brand of spirits and liqueurs.
You can visit the Encounter Coast Spirits cellar door at 195 Cartwright Road, Lower Inman Valley. They’re open every day from 11am-5pm.
Growing up on Kangaroo Island, Quentin has been a farmer for as long as he can remember.
“I started experimenting with cider – growing cider apples, and making cider – but I didn’t have the right audience on KI to take it to the next level,” he says
So instead he decided to step things up by opening a micro-distillery in Victor Harbor, alongside a farm for his cattle and sheep. Not content with doing just three things, he has also started the Irreverent Kitchen, which sells homemade condiments prepared in an open space where people can watch and learn.
“I noticed the growing number of micro-breweries around here, so I wanted a real point of difference,” Quentin says. “There’s a disconnection between the people in the city and the things that happen on a farm, I saw the distillery as a good platform for educating people about the land and agriculture.”
Things may be moving at a rapid rate now, but they originally started slowly. It took Quentin a long time to find someone in the industry who was willing to share their knowledge and show him the ropes. In the end, it was John and Sarah Lark from Kangaroo Island Spirits who opened up their cellar doors and their operations have had a strong influence on Quentin’s approach.
“We saw an opportunity to make this a tourist attraction. Just like how people would go along the Tasmanian Whisky Trail to see all the distilleries,” says Quentin.
Even though they’re only a month in, Encounter’s range includes everything from handcrafted gin to vodka and liqueurs. Each bottle features native Australian botanicals, such as melon seed, lemon myrtle, and the Tasmanian mountain pepperberry, and occasionally, honey from their own bees (yes, they really do everything).
“All of this is made in our 200 litre copper still that I imported from Germany,” says Quentin as he showed us a bottle of Spiced Honey and Wattleseed Liqueur, their bestseller.
Although they’re new on the scene, you will already find Encounter Coast Spirits stocked on the shelves of Belair Fine Wines, Highway Inn, and Hotel Victor.