Coast’s unique botanicals feature in Great Ocean Road Gin
The natural environment and rugged beauty of the Great Ocean Road are the inspiration behind Great Ocean Road’s coastal gins.
The gin and its playful brand are a nostalgic nod to its makers’ favourite place in the world, and their love of premium gin.
The Great Ocean Road has been part of Great Ocean Road Gin founder Ann Houlihan’s history for more than 50 years.
Her parents built a holiday house at Moggs Creek in 1970, not far from the famed Ocean Road sign. Their home burnt down in the Ash Wednesday bushfires and was rebuilt.
Ann’s childhood featured long days on the beach, rambling in rock pools and exploring the native forest on the look out for local wildflowers and orchids.
In November 2017, Ann and her partner Kriss Mckie, moved their family to Anglesea for a sea change and for Ann to begin making her small batch craft gin which features botanicals from the region.
Ann’s professional life included roles in event management, marketing and communications for organisations including the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria.
This included establishing the first Australian Distilled Spirit Awards as the spirts industry was emerging in Australia.
Her love of the Surf Coast region, craft gin and work experience all worked in her favour when establishing Great Ocean Road Gin.
Her partner Kriss had a background in state and local government with a focus on social policy and community development. She joined the ever-expanding Great Ocean Road Gin to support Ann full time in 2021.
Excited by the thriving food scene in Geelong and the Surf Coast region, the pair were keen to be a part of the growing food community on the coast.
Their focus was to use local ingredients and botanicals to create gin that was reflective of the coastline and initially work with a local indigenous nursery to identify the unique plants growing in the region.
In December 2022, the doors to their new Torquay based distillery in Sawmills Way opened.
Their gins are made on a 300L Australian copper pot still sourced from Tasmania. The distillery, in addition to production, houses a retail store and a cellar door bar that is opened Friday and Saturdays for gin and tonics, tasting trays and cocktails.
The first gin, a modern dry gin called Guvvos (pronounced Gov-ohs) was released in 2018.
It features 24 botanicals, nine of them from the region including kelp, salt bush, eucalyptus, hop wattle and a local honey to name a few.
The gin itself is named after the surf beach located outside Point Roadknight where the kelp is foraged.
Great Ocean Road Gin now have six gins in their range.
Ann and Kriss are excited about creating unique dining destinations serving quality food and drink. In addition to the new distillery in Torquay they have a Tasting Room and Gin Garden and a restaurant called The Gin Kitchen in
Aireys Inlet, serving gin cocktails, local wines and beers and authentic Southeast Asian shared plates.
As a women owned and operated business, the pair are excited about the opportunity to connect with other locally owned women-owned businesses and look forward to collaborations in the future.