Australian distilleries turn the page with foray into cannabis-infused liquor

Denmark, on the south coast of WA, has a reputation as a paradise for hippies and artists in a region dominated by commercial agriculture and forestry.

Now, a nearby distillery has brought the two worlds together by flavoring its gin with locally grown cannabis sativa.

“All of our plants are grown and harvested on site,” owner Matthew Beaton said.

The botanical cannabis distillery began operations last year, selling its drinks through an on-site farm restaurant and local bottle shops.

He is not alone. In recent years, several Australian distilleries and breweries have started flavoring their drinks with non-psychoactive cannabis, primarily using hemp seeds.

Mr Beaton said he believed the botanical cannabis distillery in Denmark was the first in Australia to use the whole plant, including the flower or ‘bud’.

Matthew Beaton runs the botanical cannabis distillery on a farm that includes a restaurant, cows, chestnuts, hemp and truffles.(ABC: Angus Mackintosh)

Awaiting legalization

In countries that have legalized recreational cannabis, alcohol containing THC is already sold.

“Companies are already doing it,” wine writer Philip White told ABC Adelaide’s Peter Goer in April.

“It is not too difficult to obtain the main compounds of marijuana [in a drink]. CBD, THC… they dissolve easily in alcohol.

Like alcohol, THC has a sedative effect on the brain. Intoxication with either substance can affect balance, reflexes or memory.

“These are both very serious and dangerous drugs,” Mr White said.

a man wearing a cap, checkered shorts and a waistcoat stands in a room with bottles of gin sativa
Matt Beaton with stored bottles of gin sativa and vodka.(ABC: Angus Mackintosh)

He pointed out that combining substances with physiological effects, even legal substances like alcohol and caffeine, can be dangerous.

Nevertheless, Matthew Beaton has said that if psychoactive cannabis becomes legal in Australia, he would “definitely” consider selling it in his drinks.

“If the day comes, we’ll probably start without alcohol. We’ll probably do a soft drink first.”

“There’s maybe a nice little point where it’s fair to have that amount of alcohol versus THC.

“But at this point it’s illegal, so we can’t do anything like that.”

a purple cannabis flower growing in Denmark, WA
Industrial hemp is defined as cannabis containing no more than 0.35% THC in the leaves and flowering heads, and can be grown legally with a license in WA.(ABC: Angus Mackintosh)

“It’s like a vintage”

Unlike industrial hemp farms that collect the seeds of the plant, Matthew Beaton harvests his sativa plants gradually throughout the year for use fresh in the distillery.

It is therefore difficult to produce a coherent mind.

“Plants change from week to week throughout the growth cycle,” he said.

“It’s like a vintage of wine.”

Mr. White said some local winemakers in California’s Napa Valley have come into conflict with cannabis growers.

“It’s interesting to watch in California, the wine companies are starting to say they don’t like the smell coming into their vineyard,” he said.

“But I’m sure everything will be fine because there’s so much money at stake.”

Comments are closed.