Raising spirits: Region’s distilleries toast to new era with training program

April 14, 2024 BY

Dervilla McGowan, founder and chef distiller at Anther. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

VICTORIA’S distillery industry is set to boost its expertise with the introduction of a new pilot training program.

This $1.2 million initiative, created through a collaboration between the National Distilling Institute, Spirits Victoria Association, and the Australian Distillers Association, includes a Certificate IV in Artisan Fermented Products and micro-credential courses in distillery safety.

The first session was launched at Starward Distillery in Port Melbourne, with the next scheduled at Anther Distillery in Geelong on April 16.

Dervilla McGowan, founder and chef distiller at Anther, said the program was vital for the booming industry.

“With the industry expanding so quickly, we see gaps in knowledge among self-taught distillers,” she said.

“This training is crucial for filling those gaps.”


Victoria, home to over 180 distilleries and more than 9,000 employees, is recognised as the distillery capital of Australia. Photo: SUPPLIED


Part of the $20 million Distillery Door Program aimed at bolstering and enhancing Victoria’s distillery industry, this initiative is designed to advance distillation techniques and improve industry safety.

Victoria, home to more than 180 distilleries and more than 9,000 employees, is recognised as the distillery capital of Australia.

“We’re winning international awards against established distilleries,” said McGowan.

Across the region, Anther, Great Ocean Road Gin, Torquay’s Flow State Brewers and Distillers, and The Bellarine Distillery have garnered numerous national and international awards.

“Four Pillars was named the world’s best gin maker, Grainshaker recently won Australia’s best vodka at the World Vodka Awards, and The Bellarine Distillery received the title of Australia’s Best Distillery for their gin,” she said.

In the next 18 months, participants will tackle 22 subjects, gaining insights into blending spirits, filtering fermented beverages, performing basic safety tests, and managing food contamination and spoilage.


Victoria’s distillery industry is set for a boost, with a new pilot training program. Photo: SUPPLIED


Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence said it was an exciting initiative.

“We’re investing in the future of distilling and we are thrilled to be partnering with industry leaders to deliver this new course that will set Victorian distillers apart from the rest.”

The program will soon include a Certificate III in Food Processing (Distilling) and offer up to $2,000 per distillery for staff to take further micro-credential courses.