Craft brewers and wineries are common knowledge around the Illawarra, but what about spirits?
A historic dairy co-op has been transformed into a distillery and opened its cellar doors for tastings on the weekend.
The Siding, run by Ian Field and Leigh Dryden, was named after the heritage listed rail siding (the short railway line track beside the building) used to export cheese products to the UK nearly a century ago.
Gerringong Dairy was the oldest continually-operating dairy co-operative in Australia until it closed its doors in 2000.
Since then the building has had many uses including a storage facility for a furniture store.
Mr Field began his Gerringong distilling business, Distillery Direct, in a section of the historic building about 10 years ago, but moved it elsewhere in the town in 2009.
But the rustic charm of the dairy farm called him back so he began preparations to get approval for a larger distillery in the premises.
Mr Field then met wine connoisseur Mr Dryden and together they “cooked up” their unique concept with Dryden jumping on board about 12 months ago to get the co-op ready for operation.
“It’s been a work in progress for the last three years to put it all together,” said Mr Field.
Gerringong and the South Coast are really starting to burgeon and I think this is will be a really nice addition to completment the growth of region.Leigh Dryden
Currently The Siding is showcasing their own Gerringong distilled whiskey, rum and vodka (it’s called 151 after the lattitude of the town.
They also house Wollongong craft beers, Nowra based pre-mixed cocktails, along with select German and South Coast wines.
As they’ve only just opened their doors the next few months will see the business expand to include masterclasses in wine and spirits, functions (with a “vikings table” set up for feasts among the hand-beaten copper stills).
They’re also developing a new gin using all localy sourced ingredients.
“It’s a real showcase in what’s deeply a historical building, and Gerringong and the South Coast are really starting to burgeon and I think this is will be a really nice addition to completment the growth of region,” Mr Dryden said.
The Siding is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Find them on FACEBOOK.