But if you're keen on your gin and tonics or martinis then there's a new 'must visit' place in Healesville, and that's the Four Pillars Gin Distillery.
Located at 2A Lilydale Road, Healesville, you'll find Four Pillars an easy walk or drive from the town. It's located a short way off Maroondah Highway, to your left as you drive into Healesville from Melbourne.
The three founders of Four Pillars - Cam, Stu and Matt - sum up their drive to create the distillery as follows: 'We just love great drinks, we love cocktails, and we love craft'. The distillery gets its name from the fact that the founders consider there are 'four pillars' critical to the creation of a quality gin: the still (in this case, a German manufactured copper still called 'Wilma'), the water ('best in the world' local water, from the Yarra Valley), the botanicals (sourced locally and internationally), and love - 'a commitment to craft and attention to detail' at every step of the process.
Peer through the windows into the distillery and you might glimpse 'Wilma' the German still.
The cellar door ('distillery door' to be technically correct) opened in November 2015, however, the distillery has been producing gin since 2013, commencing with its 'rare dry gin' ($75 for a 700ml bottle at the time of writing). Impressively, Four Pillars has already won international awards.
If you are only an occasional gin drinker, you could be forgiven for thinking - but doesn't all gin taste the same? Four Pillars is currently offering five gins, and yes, they do taste quite different from one another. The difference comes from the 'botanicals' that are used in the distillation process. For example, native botanicals including Tasmanian pepperberry and lemon myrtle are incorporated in the process. Exotic Asian spices ranging from cinnamon and star anise to cardamom and coriander seeds are also used, as are lavender and angelica root. Unusually, Four Pillars also includes whole oranges in its mix.
The best way to try the gins and appreciate the differences is via a tasting - $10 per person, which is refundable with the purchase of any 700ml bottle of gin. Tasters are encouraged to try the gins neat, although tonic water was made available on request.
The tasting area at Four Pillars
We tasted the Rare Dry Gin (described as having 'rich fruitcake tones), the Navy Strength Gin ('lime curd, pine needles, and fragrant spices with a vanilla character' and at 58.8% proof - compared with around 41-44% proof for standard gins - not for the faint hearted), the Barrel Aged Gin ('rich, complex and bloody drinkable') (my personal favourite for its softness and smoothness), and the Spiced Negroni Gin (with a big spice hit because of the use of an exotic West African spice called 'Grains of Paradise' in the distillation process).
We lingered at the distillery to sample martinis made by award winning bartender Sam Ng.
Apparently not having had our gin fill from the tasting, we continued to linger at the distillery and try a martini - made of course with Four Pillars Gin. We were lucky enough to encounter award winning bartender and martini maker extraordinaire Sam Ng, whom we learned has won a swag of awards and who formerly worked at Black Pearl Bar in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
The delightful martini made by Sam.
Feeling very mellow by the time we'd finished our drinks, we congratulated ourselves on having had the foresight to arrange overnight accommodation in Healesville.
The Four Pillars distillery door is open as follows: