Nestled in the Pyrenees Ranges about an hour out of Ballarat you’ll find the tiny hamlet of Glenpatrick.
Little more than 30 people live in this pristine valley, where grazing land joins rugged forest.
This is the home of Mrs Baker’s Still House, a female-led micro-distillery making award winning gins and liqueurs.
The sheltered valley in the hills is the perfect environment for Jane Baker, founder of Mrs Baker’s Still House, to grow many of the botanicals used in the gins and liqueurs.
Other botanicals, that aren’t grown on the property, are foraged from the hills or picked from local farms.
“We are passionate about harnessing flavours of the place where we live,” explains Jane, “This stems from the adoration we have for the stunning landscape surrounding us and our commitment to sustainable, low-impact production methods”.
In keeping with this ethos, food miles remain low, with the base neutral spirit distilled from wine made and grown on the farm, and a 100% solar-powered distillation process.
This family owned and operated distillery is a tight-knit mother-and-daughters team. Since establishing Mrs Baker’s Still House in 2016, Jane’s two daughters, Elizabeth and Georgette, have come to work alongside her. Jane admits she is lucky that she gets to work so closely with her two daughters.
“My daughter Elizabeth is now the lead distiller and has a great talent in making beautiful gins with style and finesse. My other daughter, Georgette, works with me on business development, branding and marketing of the gins and liqueurs.”
The boutique distillery has expanded its gin range to include Dry, Pepperberry, Fennel, Shiraz and Christmas gins. They also make small batch Vodka, Limoncello, Coffee liqueur, Triple sec and some seasonal limited releases. Whisky is also in the works, using barley grown in Skipton and malted in Ballarat. Each of these carefully hand-crafted spirits has a personality of its own.
From the botanical selection right through the distillation, to being poured into crystal-cut glassware, the spirits each have unique characteristics. This is how they take on their amusing names such as Mrs Baker’s Sensual & Intellectual Dry Gin, Mrs Baker’s Unapologetic Friend Vodka, and Mrs Baker’s Rowdy Neighbour Triple Sec. “I confess we will often make something that is inspired by a close friend or family member,” Jane says with a smile.
Originally trained as a botanist and with grass-roots in the wine industry, Jane brings a unique horticultural lens to Mrs Baker’s blends. Many of the botanicals are grown in the garden and orchard on the property. There is a delicious range of botanicals, from traditional classics such as juniper and angelica, to the more contemporary pepperberry and kaffir lime. The distillery is operated so that it works with the seasons. The Bakers grow what they can on site and make the most of any seasonal flush by tailoring their production-plan around when there will be a plentiful harvest.
The distillery has been a bustle of activity as the Baker women have developed a range of single botanical distillations that are ready for blending. They’re offering masterclasses over spring and summer, where you can experiment with up to 15 different botanicals as you blend-up a bottle of your own signature gin. The masterclasses are held in the farmhouse kitchen framed by sweeping views of the Glenpatrick valley. It is an inspiring setting to harness your inner scientist, and use an assortment of test tubes and beakers to craft your own unique gin.
The ‘Botanist’s Journey to Gin’ masterclass starts with an inspiring tour of the botanical garden and the micro-distillery, before blending a 200mL bottle of your own signature gin. You can even personalise the label on your apothecary-style gin bottle – a great conversation starter at your next dinner party or to dedicate as a gift. Sample some of your gin as a GnT over a light lunch before checking-out the sweet little cellar door. To cap off the day, you’ll get to take home a tussie-mussie of handpicked botanicals to match your gin.
A Botanist’s Journey to Gin blending masterclass is available on selected dates from September 2022 – February 2023 as part of the Made of: Ballarat Experiences series.
For guided tastings, distillery tours and cellar door sales visit the Mrs Baker’s Still House cellar door at 606 Elmhurst-Glenpatrick Road, Glenpatrick, Victoria 3469. Open Saturday and Sundays, 11am-4pm. As this is a working farm, it is best to call ahead on 0418 141 685 to let Jane know you are coming.