Tweed Heeds best distillery for tours, tastings & lunch
Husk Distillery is the home of the famous Ink Gin and agricole rum which is distilled directly from sugar cane instead of molasses. This is a great spot in Northern NSW to visit for tours, tastings, cocktails or lunch.
Starting their journey in 2011 to create a rum unique to Australia made only from the pressed sugarcane instead of sugar cane molasses, the Messenger family established a plantation to grow their own cane and started distilling. Because agricole rum can only be made while the sugarcane is in season, they used the downtown of their stills to work on creating gins.
The gin that they created was Ink Gin, using dok un chan (butterfly pea flower) tea as one of the botanicals to flavour the gin, which has a special colour changing property. When made into a gin, it is a dark blue ink colour, but when you add tonic water to the gin, it changes to a light purple colour.
In 2016, they opened a new larger distillery complete with a bar, restaurant and cellar door. So now you can pop in on most days of the week to buy spirits or enjoy a Husk tour or experience.
Husk is open to the public from Wednesday through to Sunday from 11 am through to 5 or 6 pm, or 7 days a week during school holidays. If you just want to buy, drink at the bar or have lunch then you can just pop in, but on weekends and holidays, it is highly recommended that you book a table for lunch.
They have quite a few drink options on offer. Yes, you can order classic gin and tonics, but you can also get a nice tasting paddle. These come with 3 drinks each, either a rum paddle which includes a rum cocktail and 2 rums, or a botanical paddle, which is focused on the gins. They have a number of cocktails, but I think it is better to focus on gin and tonics or rum served on ice, to really focus on the flavours of Husk.
There are 3 main tour experiences, the Daily Distillery Tours include gin & tonics on arrival, guided tasting as well as a behind the scenes look at the process of making the gins and rums. How much you will see on the tour will depend on what is being done at any time in the distillery, so your experience can differ.
Learning about Husk gins & spirits at Husk Distillery
If you are a rum fan, then the Into the Barrel: Husk Rum Tour will get you hands-on, and taste buds on too, into the process of making rum, as well as making your own rum cocktails. While more in-depth than standards tours, there is less opportunity to learn and taste the gins.
Husk's famous Ink Gin changes colour when you add tonic
For those who care mostly about gin, then the Ink G&T Experience will give you the chance to taste and learn about Husk's gins. Learn how to make the ultimate gin and tonic as well as some gin cocktails.
The food at Husk is pretty good, leaning towards high-end pub cuisine, with an emphasis on grazing and share plates. If you are not sure what to get, or you are with a group that is hungry but doesn't want lunch, then the grazing board is often the way to go.
What I didn't get to experience was the popular lunch on the lawn. They have umbrellas set up there, and you spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy a catered picnic experience. Unfortunately, we went there the day after some heavy rain, so the lawn area was too soaked for this. However, sitting on chairs and eating from a table is nice too.
You can always easily drive to Husk as it is 20 minutes from Coolangatta and there is plenty of parking. Of course, if you are going to drink then consider a taxi or rideshare. But being out of town, rideshares can be a little hit and miss at times.
One of the best ways to experience places like Husk is to join a tour, such as those offered by Kiff & Culture Bus Tours. These usually are an opportunity to take in several different food and drink attractions in the area.
Tastings, enjoying drinks and lunch there is an excellent experience. If you are in that area, it is a great trip out there for lunch, especially on a sunny day when you can enjoy your drinks and meal on the lawn. The tours are a little less interesting, as it is mostly seeing the big stills and learning about the process of making the drinks we would rather be sitting down tasting, but it all depends on what is happening in the distillery at the time or which tour you chose.