The Basics Drinking Out

5 Must-Visit Distillery Trips Perfect for Winter

Stave off the winter blues by sampling spirits in these warm-weather destinations.

The stills at Four Pillars Distillery in Australia
Four Pillars distillery in Victoria, Australia. Image:

Four Pillars

It seems like no matter what corner of the world you’re in, a distillery (massive or craft) is just steps away. So what better way to conquer winter travel—that is, escaping from the cold to the tropics—than by exploring a distillery and sipping its wares? These five warm-weather destinations are responsible for producing a range of spirits—from gin and vodka to rum and tequila—and any one could be your next wintertime respite.

  • Australia

    Four Pillars Distillery in Victoria, Australia.

    Four Pillars 

    Australia may get credit for its wine production, but there aren’t many craft distillers down under. One of the few is Four Pillars, a gin maker based in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, set among the valley’s esteemed wineries and the Yarra River. Two hours from Melbourne, the bushland setting reflects Four Pillars’ method of making gin, using locally sourced botanicals and water, and the nearby wildlife sanctuary is yet another reminder that you’re outside the city. Worth noting: America’s wintertime is the Southern Hemisphere’s summertime, so be sure to schedule your trip for the correct season.

    Also check out: Rising star Starward for in-depth whiskey classes and tours set in its Port Melbourne distillery.

  • The Bahamas

    John Watling’s Distillery in the Bahamas

    John Watling’s Distillery

    John Watling was a 17th-century buccaneer who sailed the Bahamian seas, and his spirit lives on today at his namesake distillery in downtown Nassau. Housed in the Buena Vista Estate, which dates back to 1789, visitors to John Watling’s Distillery can learn about the method by which the distillery makes white rum, amber rum and its signature Buena Vista rum, using local, hand-cut and pressed sugar cane molasses with very little mechanization. Along with harbor views at the estate, look for a museum-like tour offered daily, along with shopping and Bahamian cocktails at the on-site Red Turtle Tavern.

    Also check out: A 90-minute flight away in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is Appleton Estate, the distillery that creates the island’s famous rum, where visitors can have a look at the copper pot stills that are unique to Appleton’s operation.

  • Los Angeles

    R6 Distillery in El Segundo, California.

    R6 Distillery

    While it may boast the freshest farmers markets and more green juice purveyors than most cities, Los Angeles isn’t exactly known for its local spirits. But in the past several years, a few enterprising locals have aimed to change that. Our/Los Angeles is making small-batch vodka out of downtown L.A., where visitors can book tours and sample the spirit at the on-site tasting room. Bottles are also available to purchase at nearby retailers. In El Segundo, Rob Rubens and his team are distilling vodka, whiskey and gin, and offering tours and tastings daily at R6 Distillery. And over at The Spirit Guild in the Arts District, a husband-and-wife team are making vodka and gin from clementines grown in California’s Central Valley. Learn all about it during the 45-minute tour and tasting

    Also check out: Mulholland Distilling, the brainchild of two Hollywood vets (Walton Goggins and Matthew Alper), offers tours and tastings of its vodka, gin and whiskey.

  • Mexico

    Tequila Selecto distillery in Jalisco, Mexico

    Tequila Selecto 

    Amatitán, the head of the Mexican state of Jalisco, claims to be the home of Jalisco’s oldest tequila distillery, and it’s where many tequila brands operate. At Tequila Selecto, the distillery where Blue Nectar tequila is crafted, visitors are given tours of the estate, set in the middle of agave farms—a contrast to other local facilities, which tend to be much more industrial. With flowers, trees (some centuries-old), horses and birds (hawks, peacocks and doves), the family-owned property, which has been operating for nearly 20 years, feels more like a farm than a factory. Daily tours give a behind-the-scenes look at the distillery’s processes, from harvesting the agave to cooking the piñas and extracting their juices for distillation.

    Also check out: Museo Los Abuelos, a museum in nearby Jalisco that’s dedicated to all things tequila.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • Miami

    American Freedom Distillery in St. Petersburg, Florida

    American Freedom Distillery

    Given the proximity to Cuba and Puerto Rico, one would think there’s more rum being made in south Florida. Perhaps that was Matt Malone’s rationale when he opened Miami’s first distillery, Destilería Canéca, in the artsy Wynwood neighborhood back in 2012 after learning that distilling was in his family lineage. His first spirit, Miami Club Rum, was met with critical acclaim. Tours of the distillery, rum tasting included, are offered daily, and the space is also used for events and parties.

    Also check out: American Freedom Distillery, a veteran-owned outfit making Horse Soldier Bourbon in the historic Warehouse/Arts District of St. Petersburg, Florida, plus their corresponding restaurant and bar, Urban Stillhouse.