Wolf Lane Distillery

From gin to win!

From the time Wolf Lane Distillery opened in Cairns in 2019, its gin seemed destined for greatness.

It hit international stardom almost immediately when it won a gold medal in the contemporary gin category at the 2019 Australian Gin Awards.

The awards continued coming for the first gin distillery in Cairns. It received the global honour of being named the World’s Best Navy Strength at the Gin Awards in 2020 in London and was named the World’s Best Bar Group by the Gin Awards in 2021, not to mention a swag of other awards (such as at the SIP Awards, an international spirit competition).

“The team were really proud to be recognised at these global competitions,” says Andrew Pare, one of five directors of the Hospo Group, which owns the distillery along with three other small bars (Three Wolves, Flamingos Tiki Bar and The Fox Small Bar) and an existing larger pub (the historic Mountain View Hotel). 

“Winning the prestigious World’s Best Navy Strength was a big one. It was quite an achievement for a small distillery.”

Friends Darren Barber, Sam Kennis and Grant Buckham opened Hospo Group’s first of four small bars, Three Wolves, in 2016. Andrew and fellow director Ben Pape joined the team later.

While the boutique gin distillery was originally part of its Wolf Lane Distillery and bar venue, it has since moved production to an off-site warehouse, and the bar and cellar door remain down the laneway.

The move to a larger warehouse was a natural progression given the distillery’s success. Its recently purchased custom-built still has given Hospo Group the room to increase production, enabling them to now make 600 litres a day.

Its core range of gins is made weekly, and it also makes different seasonal gins created in collaboration with award-winning restaurants of the region.

The distillery also makes a mango seltzer, which won a gold medal at the 2022 Seltzer Masters in London, and a wild berry seltzer, which took home a silver at the same competition. Both are also now available in Hong Kong.

Wolf Lane Distillery’s focus has always been on creating spirits that pay homage to tropical North Queensland’s fabulous selection of botanicals and also supporting local farmers. For example, its award-winning Tropical Gin uses locally sourced ingredients containing 13 botanicals. The dry botanicals are steeped overnight and include juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, cinnamon, lemon myrtle, Tasmanian pepperberry, cardamom and macadamia. Locally sourced ruby grapefruit, mango, finger lime, lavender and mint are vapour infused in the gin basket.

Hospo Group also works in partnership with producers such as Jacques Coffee Plantation, which they worked with to make their popular Barista Coffee liqueur.

All of Wolf Lane Distillery’s products are available throughout Australia at popular bottle shops such as Dan Murphy’s, Liquorland and BWS, as well as online.

Creating the flavours of their gins is no easy task, although testing the flavours is an enjoyable one.

“Our chief distiller Rory Bayliss has a lot of knowledge of what flavours work best together,” says Andrew, explaining that the distillery annually creates seasonal gins along with its core range. “He comes up with new recipes, as do Darren and Sam. And we get to sample them ourselves, which is the fun part!”


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