Lifting spirits: How you can get involved in the South Australian gin spike

If you’ve been living under a rock (of ice perhaps), you might have missed the spike in the South Australian spirit industry.

Perhaps it’s appropriate then, that the new ‘Adelaide Gin’ was created at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus, home of the largest teaching winery in the southern hemisphere.

Adelaide Gin - Michael Hickinbotham and Associate Professor Graham Jones

Adelaide Gin creators Michael Hickinbotham and from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Associate Professor Graham Jones.
Image: Adelaide Gin

“The craft spirit scene is really booming at the moment,” says Associate Professor David Jeffery, wine science expert at the University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

“Spirit production was a big thing in past decades, particular with respect to brandy production, and we’re seeing a renewed interest in distillation.”

With South Australia increasing its production of this liquid gold, the international awards are already pouring in. Many of these top gongs have been picked up by viticulture and oenology graduates of the University.

“There’s truly some world class gin production going on right here”Associate Professor David Jeffery


Your short course to spirit production

The University is feeding this demand across Australia through its fundamentals of distillation short course. There’s also high demand for its distilling subjects within the undergraduate and postgraduate viticulture and oenology degrees.

“Some people are looking to set up a distillery or create a craft spirit; others are like, ‘hey, this is just a cool idea’,” says Associate Professor Jeffery.

“While the short course is targeted at beginner to intermediate level distillers, we’ve even attracted experienced winemakers who want to learn more about the scientific side of distilled beverage production.”

Fundamentals of Spirit Production

Some short course participants have since launched a label or distillery, including Adelaide GinThat Spirited LotGreat Ocean Road gin, and Diablo artisan gin by Swan Valley Gin Co.

The University runs its distillation short course up to four times per year. The 5-day intensive program is a practical and industry-oriented approach that introduces participants to distillation theory and practice. It then dives deeper into the production of gin and whisky and then expands into current interests in rum and vodka.

Spirit Production Short Course


A gin named after Adelaide

While the local spirit scene booms, Adelaide Gin is an example of the Faculty of Sciences’ ability to transform ideas into commercial outcomes, through its scientific expertise and infrastructure.

In the example of ‘Adelaide Gin’, Adelaide identity Michael Hickinbotham partnered with wine scientist Associate Professor Graham Jones, from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

Adelaide Gin

Image: Adelaide Gin

They distilled the gin at the University of Adelaide’s Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory

This facility, now at Waite campus, is named after Michael’s grandfather Alan ‘Hick’ Hickinbotham. Alan was the founding scientist of Roseworthy College’s now world-famous oenology course.

Hoping to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, Michael travelled the globe and consumed knowledge from the world’s best gin makers. 

With the goal to make the best, truly Australian gin, Michael sought out the expertise of Associate Professor Jones. The result is Adelaide Gin, a London dry enhanced by native South Australian botanicals.

“The flavours in the gin are floral in nature, built up using a traditional range of spices including juniper, coriander, orris, cardamom and nutmeg, as well as the beautiful richness of Kangaroo Island lavender,” says Associate Professor Jones.

Explore Adelaide Gin


How do I get in on the gin?

Want to learn the art of spirit production and winemaking? We offer a number of options that cover all aspects of viticulture and oenology.

All Wine & Spirit Study Options

Wine graduate Lukas Papagiannis

Short courses

Fundamentals of Spirit Production - A 5-day intensive course  

World of Wine: From Grape to Glass - Free online course

Wine students - winemaking

Degree programs

We offer the most comprehensive wine qualifications in Australia. Learn best practice and trends in grape and wine production techniques, state-of-the-art scientific knowledge and practical skills to become a true professional in wine and spirits.

Tagged in School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Viticulture and Oenology, Engagement and Industry

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