Making a bit of Foss about Carlton’s new distillery

Jack Hayes

209 Lygon St has lived many lives. The bluestone façade and red brick interiors were fondly known to locals for almost 40 years as the home of IL Cantuccio, an old-fashioned Italian diner serving homely food.

Now, new life has been brought back into the old relic, with the opening of Fossey’s Distillery Lygon.

From humble beginnings in an unused function space attached to a pub in Mildura, owner and self-confessed “ginnivator” Steve Timmis has grown the Fossey’s brand steadily since opening in 2017, building on a foundation of creative, quirky but serious small-batch gins, whiskies, vodkas and rums.

As a household name in the Mallee region, Mr Timmis decided it was time to bring his “Mildura flair to the big smoke.”

“It was a bit opportunistic,” Mr Timmis said. “There was a place that became available, and I thought it has a nice look and feel, and obviously in a great spot.”

“Not really knowing Melbourne that well, but knowing Lygon St had its own brand nationally, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to bring a little Fossey’s outpost to the city.”

“It’s an opportunity for us to bring the spirit of Mildura to Melbourne and showcase some pretty amazing spirits, which will be distilled right here in Carlton, in our big brand new still, Elsie.”

You’ll find Elsie, the big copper still, not so discreetly tucked behind the bar at Fossey’s Lygon, providing a small peek into the world of hand-crafted, artisanal distilling.

Traditional botanicals make way for natives like lemon myrtle, pepperberry, lavender and cassia, to create their trademark Fossey’s Gin Elixir.

Inspired by the warmth of Victoria’s north and the flora that grows there, you’ll find locally-grown grapes in the Shiraz-infused gins, or the hand-picked salinity of the Old Man Salt Bush.

For the more adventurous, there are flavours like Christmas Pudding, Chilli and, just in time for Easter, a special Hot Cross Bun release with a hint of nutmeg, cinnamon and citrus peel and dried Flame seedless grapes to recreate the taste of buttery hot cross buns in a bottle.

Mr Timmis told Inner City News the response from locals intrigued by their new neighbourhood distillery had been incredibly encouraging.


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“In addition to our own range of spirits, we’ve invited half a dozen distilleries to join us, so, we have offerings from places like Timboon, Woombye and the Mornington Peninsula. It’s not just us. We want to be a place where you can try these producers, who you probably couldn’t have otherwise.”

For a bite to eat, Fossey’s offers a tapas menu designed to accompany their range of alcohols that includes olives in malt whisky, redgum teriyaki prawn skewers, gin fried chicken and Honey Red Gum Rum chicken wings. •

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