From humble beginnings to a leading Australian craft spirits house
3 Distilleries – 1 Family
The story of Great Southern Distilling Co begins back when founder Cameron Syme was growing up in a small town in the north-east wheat belt of Western Australia.
He loved hearing stories of Scottish relatives who, so the story goes, gave up the whereabouts of their illegal distillery and used the reward money to start a new one. The romance of the stories and deep love of whisky combined to plant the seed of one day starting his own distillery.
At that time Australia did not have the thriving craft spirits industry it does today, despite the abundance of local ingredients available. So Cameron spent 16 years researching and honing his knowledge on distilling, while working as an accountant and later a lawyer. In 2004 Cameron relocated his young family to Albany in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, after identifying it as having all of the essential elements to start his distillery dream. His motivation right from day one was to create a craft spirit house that could represent Australia as a world-class producer, plus it also offered an opportunity to be creative and do something he is passionate about.
The very first Great Southern Distilling Co distillation was on Christmas Eve in 2005, from a 150m2 space in the Albany Small Business incubator. His first single malt whisky was then released in May 2008, the first (legally) produced in Western Australia and the 4th Australia-wide. This whisky won a bronze medal at the prestigious UK International Wine & Spirits Competition.
In 2005, Australia’s third gin distillery (and the first craft gin distillery on the mainland) was launched under the Margaret River Distilling Co banner. The 'Ginnifer Gin' released was the very first Barrel Aged Gin in Australia.
Later GSDC was the first Australian distillery to make a mixed grain / sour mash whiskey (Tiger Snake Whiskey).
By 2007 GSDC had outgrown its original space, and the distillery and cellar door opened at the current location on Frenchman Bay Road, right on the edge of the beautiful Princess Royal Harbour.
2015 saw the purchase and renovation of the current Margaret River Distilling Co site, situated walking distance from Margaret River township. This is the home of Giniversity, and where the Giniversity Experiences began. It's another way of introducing people to the incredible local botanicals available in this part of the world, that make Giniversity gins so special.
The 3rd distillery location is in Porongurup, about 30 minutes drive out of Albany. This most recent addition has lead to a significant increase in production capabilities, with the 3000m2 facility taking the number of barrels produced each week from 4 to 44. The Porongurup distillery is the home of Tiger Snake Whiskey, and the latest addition Dugite Whiskey which is a blend of single malt and mixed grain whiskies.
By 2019 Great Southern Distilling Co had received over 130 awards, medals, and accolades from some of the most highly respected critics and judges in the world.
This includes being named the 2019 UK Whisky Magazine’s Icons of World Whisky 'Australian Distillery of the Year'.
Using the best local agricultural produce, and with every step meticulously researched and tested, each craft spirit released epitomises the essence of the iconic WA locations where each of the three distilleries are situated.
Energy self sufficiency and sustainability are a big focus, with a lot of research currently being invested into reducing impact on the environment. The ultimate goal is to become carbon neutral and have zero waste.
Quality is key, quantity is not, and a product will never be released until Cameron has decided that it is ready.
The result is always worth the wait.
A message from founder, Cameron Syme
When I first began producing Limeburners Single Malt under Great Southern Distilling Company in 2004, I had one key goal - ‘to make the best spirits in the world’. Everything we did was focused on this goal, from the small batch copper pot stills, to our location in Albany, to our cask selection and raw materials.
Since then, I have been dedicated to expanding our range of premium spirits to cater to all kinds of spirits drinkers. In 2015, I founded a separate centre of excellence ‘Margaret River Distilling Company’, our white spirits house and producer of Giniversity Gin. We now also produce Tiger Snake Sour Mash Whiskey and Dugite Whiskey under Great Southern Distilling Co, out of our third distillery and centre of excellence based in Porongurup.
Today we can confidently say we are making some of the best spirits in the World and are consistently winning awards and receiving recognition to confirm that. In 16 years we have received over 140 awards and trophies. To name a few, in 2020 and 2017 we won an international USA ADI trophy as Best Craft Whisky in the World. In 2018 Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible called Limeburners “the best whisky in the southern hemisphere”, and we were named 2019 UK Whisky Magazine’s Icons of World Whisky Australia - Distiller of the Year.
Our team remains dedicated to distilling in pursuit of excellence and striving each day to make the best spirits in the World. We are fortunate that our team shares my ethos of being in pursuit of excellence, and we have a wonderful team of talented people who help to achieve my vision of producing only the best.