Western Australia’s oldest wine region has been diversifying its beverage offerings for a while now, with growing numbers of boutique breweries, gin distilleries and cideries. Now, whisky arrives in Swan Valley with the opening of award-winning distiller Cameron Syme’s new venue, Limeburners & Giniversity in the Valley.
The pioneer of WA’s whisky industry – with three distilleries and more than 180 awards, medals and accolades under his belt – introduced the state’s first whisky, Limeburners Single Malt, at his Great Southern Distilling Co in Albany in 2004, and later his range of craft gins, Giniversity gin, at Margaret River Distilling Co in the state’s south-west. Now he’s delivering the two leading spirit brands to Perth’s doorstep.
“The Swan Valley is a unique food and beverage destination in WA that we’re excited to be adding to,” Syme says. “I have wanted to share my products in the city for a while now but we had to find the right space.”
That space turned out to be the grounds of former Herne Hill winery, Carilley Estate. With the existing building given a meticulous upgrade, the Hyem Road property now features a contemporary, luxe 200-seat venue overlooking established gardens and vines – complete with kit kat tiling, Hampton-style panelling and beech parquetry flooring. And as a nod to the venue’s former owners, its Marri timber-topped bar has been retained as a prominent feature in the dining room.
While the distilling process will continue to take place further south, the new Swan Valley site will host tastings in the cellar door and experiences such as whisky and gin blending and food pairing classes, alongside a restaurant menu that’s been crafted to complement the Limeburners and Giniversity range.
The 100 per cent gluten-free menu, devised by chef Stuart Laws (Brown Street Grill) and implemented by chef Trevor McGill, includes pub classics such as pulled pork burgers, pizzas, cheese boards and grazing platters made up of local sardines, octopus, charcuterie, breads and dips. Desserts such as lemon cheesecake with gin and tonic gel and Limeburners whisky pecan pie are the work of gluten-free baker Stacey Dadd (founder of Champagne & Gumboots.
Drinks-wise, bar manager Sean Walker (ex-Coogee Common, Santini Bar & Grill and TWR at Crown) has curated a list of gin-, vodka- and whisky-based cocktails, naturally, which are designed to enhance the food, and a wine list featuring drops from Swan Valley and Perth Hills producers.
Syme sources ingredients from as many local producers as possible. (In Porongurup he’s installing a malt works on-site to process locally grown barley, and he’s planted juniper trees to harvest the berries as the core gin botanical. He also uses native botanicals from various First Nations suppliers). And he’s already been working with Swan Valley producers John Kosovich Wines, Talijancich Wines and Olive Farm Wines to source barrels for the future production of his gin and whisky.
“We are looking for barrels that have produced quality wine and what better place to get that than our new neighbours in the Valley,” Syme says. “We will use the flavours infused in the barrel, such as a delicious verdelho, and draw them into the whisky or gin, imparting that unique flavour.”
To celebrate the new opening, and inspired by the cult following of Limeburners’ barrel-fermented sriracha sauce, Giniversity will be adding a new sriracha-flavoured gin to its range – launching exclusively at Limeburners & Giniversity in the Valley before a planned wider release.
Syme tells Broadsheet the gin pairs well with pan-Asian food with its complex sriracha notes (the result of barrel-aging for 12 months) making it the perfect savoury base for any mixed drink.
“Giniversity is all about discovering what’s new and cutting-edge,” Syme says. “It’s about creating world-class gin expressions that are unique, and this new Sriracha gin is our latest example of this exploration.”
Daily 10am–6pm (restaurant open 10am–5pm)