In Bali, island distilleries are not an unfamiliar concept. For centuries, the Balinese have been producing arak, a local heritage of Balinese ancestors that dates back to the Majapahit era, though most of these local arak producers are home-based distilleries that utilise time-honoured techniques of distillation.
In the past couple of years, however, there has been a rise in the spirits industry in Bali, with the emergence of professional, industrial-level distilleries establishing themselves on the island. These island distilleries are crafting high-quality products that are on par with those of renowned global brands, highlighting the archipelago’s rich spices and distinct flavours that make the products of these distilleries unique to Bali.
East Indies Gin
East Indies Gin is Indonesia’s first-ever craft gin, locally made in Bali by Spice Islands Distilling Co. which first launched at the end of 2021. Initially produced in small batches, this local gin quickly gained traction amongst the island’s hospitality and F&B industries, decorating bar shelves across Bali, from independent bars to five-star luxury brands.
True to its name, Spice Islands Distilling Co.’s mission is to bring Indonesian flavours to the forefront of the premium crafts spirit industry at a global scale. The name is inspired by the nostalgia of Indonesia’s rich spice history. To the ancient Greeks, the world beyond the Indus River basin in India was a mystery, ‘East of the Indus’, which birthed the term the ‘East Indies’. These lands were known to be the source of highly coveted spices like mace, nutmeg and clove, many only to be found on the Maluku Islands of Indonesia.
This small-batch, craft gin is what is considered an authentic distilled gin. The Spice Islands Distilling Co uses a handmade 550L copper still made by the German company CARL, known for its artisanal distilleries. The highest quality Macedonian Juniper, along with a selection of botanicals, are macerated in a spirit inside the still – nicknamed Gede (the Balinese name for a firstborn child).
East Indies Gin has two variants, the first one launched was the East Indies Dry Gin, which features a classic juniper-dominating flavour that any gin lovers will instantly recognise, the stars of the show however are the signature Indonesian botanicals of Kecombrang (Torch Ginger Flower) and Andaliman (Batak Pepper), which give this gin a uniquely local flavour. Smooth, refreshing and deep in flavour thanks to its authentic distillation method, this gin is great in a classic gin and tonic with a Kecombrang petal garnish and also mixes extraordinarily well with classic gin cocktails such as Negronis and Martinis.
The second variant launched in early 2023 is the East Indies Bali Pomelo Pink Gin, which features the king of citrus, the Bali pomelo, distilled with fresh Bedugul strawberries and other common gin botanicals, such as juniper berries, coriander and angelica root. The result is a dry gin with a refreshing aroma of freshly cut pomelo and grapefruit. On the palate, this dry pink gin is perfect to enjoy over ice or with a splash of tonic.
Nusantara Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
Made in Indonesia, using only Indonesian coffee beans, Nusantara Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur is a showcase for the quality of the country’s craft spirits industry. Indonesia has all the right ingredients for an impressive craft spirits industry: it is, quite literally, fertile ground for produce that can give rich and unique flavours in what is a growing beverage trend around the world. Nusantara Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur is proof of that, utilising hand-selected Arabica beans from Aceh Gayo, Toraja, Java and Kintamani’s finest plantations.
Also made by Spice Islands Distilling Co., the company set out to make the world’s best coffee liqueur using Indonesia’s best coffee. The beans, as meticulously selected as any barista would, are expertly roasted and blended and then cold brewed using modern techniques to create an intensely rich and bold coffee liqueur, a testament to Indonesia’s coffee plantations. The craft coffee liqueur boats half the sugar and 10 times the coffee of mass-production brands, all whilst demonstrating ethical and sustainable sourcing — the first of its kind in Indonesia.
Have they created the world’s best coffee liqueur? Well, taste is subjective of course, but Nusantara has already gained popularity in Indonesia, finding its way onto the top shelves of the country’s best bars and restaurants. It seems the brand has the vote of Indonesia’s mixologists and bartenders – but they arelooking to take on the world.
Answering both calls for lower-sugar drinks and locally sourced produce among today’s consumers, Nusantara Cold Brew has paved a path for a blossoming industry, done the right way. If you’re one for an Espresso Martini rich in Indonesian coffee, with little sugar, this premium, craft liqueur is certainly worth a sip. With any beverage, it’s best to find out for yourself! But who knows, perhaps you have unwittingly already had a taste, shaken into your drink by the bartender. Was that why it tasted so good?
SABA is the offshoot product of renowned local wine producer, Sababay Winery, widely known for its wine products. Sababay Distillery is the brand’s next chapter in its story, where they have evolved their mastery of the grape to create three special, Bali-born products: a grappa, a vodka and a coffee liqueur.
While it might seem like a bold move for a local wine producer to tackle, Sababay Distillery aims to be a trailblazer in Indonesian craftsmanship. The production of traditional spirits has been around for a long time and Sababay intends to continue this legacy and take the tradition, combined with their unique touch to elevate the quality of Indonesian-made spirit. They produce their spirit in small batches to allow them to control every step of the production and distillation process.
Their first product was the SABA Grappa, the pioneering Grappa distilled in Bali. The name is inspired by the bay of Saba in the Gianyar Regency, which is where the Sababay Winery is located. With SABA, they aim to highlight the quality of Balinese grapes, often overlooked in the market, and create a product that increases their overall value for local farmers, too.
While Grappa is commonly made by distilling the skin and the pulp of grapes after wine production, SABA Grappa aims to preserve the characteristics of the grape and maintain the smoothness of the Grappa by using fresh-pressed grape juice as the main ingredient, which is then distilled with their own copper alembic. The smooth, floral and elegant SABA Grappa features toast and vanilla undertones.
Other products include SABA Vodka, featuring a delicate aroma of Muscat grapes, green apples and kiwi; SABA Vodka Infused, featuring a perfect blend of mace and cubeb peppers with strong spicy tones of camphor, nutmeg and mint, elevated by a delicate Muscat aroma; and SABA Coffee Liqueur, crafted with a rich blend of fresh Kintamani & Kamala Balinese Arabica coffee beans infused with double-distilled, charcoal-filtered spirits made from Balinese Muscat grapes.
Two Rogues Spiced Island Rum
For over two decades, Bali Moon has been at the heart of Indonesia’s cocktail creations. The Bali-based distillery is the country’s largest producer and distributor of cocktail ingredients and liqueurs. Utilising Indonesia’s rich resources, Bali Moon sources local products from across the archipelago and also produced locally. The brand is best known for its collection of liqueurs, which have been the go-to among Bali mixologists for years, with their Triple Sec, Pineapple, Peppermint Green, Melon, Lychee and more being used to create the wide range of tropical cocktails suited to the island experience of Bali.
The Two Rogues Spice Island Rums is the brand’s latest product. Two Rogues’ story at its core is one of rebellion, wanderlust, exploration and embracing adventure, inspired by the voyage of two rogues in 1857 when a Dutch trading expedition first arrived in Bali. Captivated by the island and fantasising about the lands that sprawled beyond the shores, two crew members left their lives at sea and embraced adventure by spending the rest of their days in paradise.
Crafted in Bali, the rum embodies the passion and spirit of the two rogues in each sip. Distilled from premium Java molasses and clear Bali mountain water, Two Rogues is expertly blended with an intricate combination of unique Indonesian spices, presenting an authentic taste of the Spice Islands.
Two Rogues boasts an aroma of sweet and smooth natural vanilla. The creamy vanilla notes are expressed delicately on the palate from the first sip, ending with a potent and toasted ginger heat that smoulders lightly, building a comforting and warming sensation as the spirit finishes. Best enjoyed neat or on the rocks, Two Rogues also makes an exquisite mixing companion to craft a simple Cuba libre, a refreshing Dark & Stormy or a traditional Mojito.