Eat & Drink

Premium hand-crafted spirits in Pokolbin

Late last year, a new distillery quietly popped up in the Hunter Valley, and quickly sold out of its first batch of gin. FAR Distilling, the brainchild of Jessica and Ben Whittemore-Tulloch, is a boutique distillery making small-batch, premium handmade spirits from local botanicals.

far distilling pokolbin hunter valley
Ben and Jessica Whittemore-Tulloch

FAR Distilling has been a long time coming – the couple first had the idea to start their own distillery more than five years ago, when they were living in Melbourne. With plenty of experience in the wine and distilling industries between them, Jessica and Ben dreamed up FAR Distilling, which stands for forage and roam.

“Forage and roam really summarised all the things we were excited to do,” Jessica said.

far distilling pokolbin hunter valley

This concept of exploration is at the heart of the distillery.

“We gain inspiration from what we forage and where we roam – we're driven by a sense of curiosity and adventure. When we researched ancient glyphs and came across a symbol meaning 'explore,' we knew straight away that that triangular shape featuring a horizontal strike resembled that A in our name, and so FAR, featuring this glyph, was created.

“What makes us unique is not just the quality botanicals we use but also the methods of how we extract flavour. We use a traditional copper pot still but also invested in a more modern vacuum still, which allows us to cold extract some botanicals, keeping the distillation flavours and aromas bright and fresh. Because of this, different flavour profiles can be explored by applying heat to some botanicals and cold to others.”

FAR Distilling’s first product is its Gin No. 1 – Signature Blend. The final blend of more than twenty one botanicals was whittled down from more than 100 in Jessica and Ben’s library of hot and cold botanical extracts.

“One of the first things Ben did was start to catalogue and create a library for our reference. Somewhere we could pull flavours from, smell things, try things, see things side-by-side.”

far distilling pokolbin hunter valley

While the process took time, it was a natural one – they would take home a bunch of samples each night and try them, narrowing down the selection of botanicals for the final product. The result is a carefully-balanced gin that showcases florals like lemon myrtle, strawberry gum, and rose petal, while Tasmanian pepperberry and macadamia keep the texture interesting.

“We wanted to create a new world contemporary-style gin that was complex yet balanced. Our favourite gins from our own personal collection were always ones you could just pour over ice and sip. So, our goal was clear: make a gin that could stand on its own if you want it to, whilst also being able to play well with others – a chameleon of sorts.”

While you might typically prefer your gin with tonic (Jessica recommends Fever Tree’s Mediterranean Tonic to go with their Signature Gin), FAR Distilling’s first creation is best tried on the rocks with an orange peel garnish. 

far distilling pokolbin hunter valley

There’s plans for at least two more product launches this year, so keep an eye out for more premium spirits coming your way.

On the day Jessica and I catch up, she’s just purchased a load of grapes from Keith Tulloch Wines – a perk of also working at the winery! Could this be the start of FAR Distilling’s next creation?

“The fruit this vintage is just sensational, we wanted to make sure we got our hands on some to make something special – perhaps even as a third release this year. The possibility is exciting.”

We like the sound of that!

far distilling pokolbin hunter valley

You can try FAR Distilling’s gin at the Keith Tulloch Wines cellar door, or purchase a bottle online. While there’s no dedicated distillery door space just yet, Jessica and Ben haven’t ruled it out, but they’re keen to take their time, and “under-promise and over-deliver.”

For the time being, grab yourself a bottle of FAR Distiling’s gin and pour one on the rocks.