“The Otways is such a bountiful area, filled with fantastic botanicals, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great to actually put all of this into a bottle and capture it and share it around with everyone,” says Sally Richardson, owner and founder of Otways Distillery. Sally, the former owner of the Forrest General Store, had the dream of creating a quality spirit using all of the beautiful produce from her local region. “In 2019, I started doing a lot of research, and I looked into a lot of distillers, and then one of my friends said that I should go and see Wayne at Bathtub Gin,” she says. Wayne owns a small batch distillery located in Brunswick and quickly became Sally’s mentor, coach and Distillery Dad. “He guided me through the various distilling processes and was happy to accommodate all my crazy ideas, and it is at his distillery, Bathtub Gin, where we started creating our fine-tasting spirits,” she laughs. Six months later, Sally and Wayne had perfected their signature product Forrest Gin.
Three years on, Otways Distillery now specialises in organic artisan gin and spirits and has
created limited-edition cello’s, pre-mixes, and cordials. Using seasonal produce from their local
area and farmers, they have made unique concoctions from the botanicals available throughout the year. “We’re just a small team, but we love being creative, and using what we’ve got around the Otways, it sets us apart, and that is our aim; we want to be different to any other distiller,” says Sally. And, they are; the team has the dream of revitalising old-school recipes and bringing them back to life while also creating delicious blends that are unmatched within the distilling industry. Another point of difference is the Otways Distillery branding. Each bottle is dedicated to someone special in Sally’s life and drawn by her own hand. One label of significance is Arty’s Vodka, the first vodka made for the business, using fresh orange, grapefruit and lemon. Arty was Sally’s rescue dog who lived to the ripe old age of 22 and still holds a special place within her heart. You can find his portrait front and centre on the bottle.
This year, The Hamilton Hamper reached out to Sally and the Otways Distillery team to see if they would be interested in featuring their product in-store. “I was so excited when Bridget contacted me because I only want our business to be in quality places where there are good people who have heart and who actually care about what they do,” she says. “I have also always admired her store, the quality of the products and also her passion for supporting local, rural and regional businesses.” Sally went on to explain how important it is for regional businesses to support regional businesses, “it’s about keeping the money in the regions, where we can affect change, and prosper as an area.”
Finally, we asked Sally if she would provide us with a speciality cocktail or a tip on how best to
drink her products; this was her response “I am the biggest advocate for people drinking all the
products straight, put it on ice and savour each flavour in its own way. Honestly, if you have to pair it with something, make it with filtered water or soda stream!”
Sal's Otways picks to add to your list when visiting: