Easily misunderstood as a pretty wilderness south of the mainland and famous for the Beaconsville mine collapse that left two men trapped a kilometre underground for two weeks, Tasmania is commonly referred to by the rest of Australia as a hippie backwater. But the world’s 26th largest island is home to a well-respected and growing craft whisky industry.
Tasmania’s large, unspoilt swathes of ancient forestry, cool climate, pure air and unpolluted water make it the perfect place to produce whisky. At the moment it’s fairly boutique, with volumes a mere drop in the ocean compared to Scotland, say. But its potential is huge as a swathe of international plaudits and awards have recognised the island’s colourful cluster of distillers are a force to be reckoned with.
Distilling on the island began in 1822, when it was still known as Van Dieman’s Land. Just two years later 16 legal distilleries were all operating on the island state, however, this only lasted until 1838 when the then Governor, John Franklin, enforced his own version of Prohibition, banning all whisky distillation.
International Beverage Holdings has announced a series of premium and super premium launches for its single malt Scotch whisky brands – anCnoc, Speyburn, Old Pulteney and Balblair – scheduled for the TFWA World Exhibition this month (Stand number: Marine Village S2).
anCnoc Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky will unveil its first Peter Arkle limited edition travel retail exclusive, to mark its collaboration with the New-York based Scottish illustrator. The partnership, which launched earlier this year to bring the spirit of anCnoc’s ‘modern tradition’ positioning to life, has seen Arkle develop a range of anCnoc designs, each based on distinctive aspects of the Knockdhu distillery.
Her family business Old Hobart Distillery is Tasmania’s newest whisky distillery but has already won a number of international awards for its product.
Ms Overeem, 25, started distilling whisky with her father, Casey, in 2007.
The Old Hobart Distillery was launched in December last year and has been selling whisky to local, interstate and international markets ever since.
It received the highest score from the Malt Whisky Society of Australia for Australian whisky of 2012, and was awarded overall winner of the Australian section at the World of Whisky event in Sydney.
Ms Overeem said while whisky distilling was still very much a man’s world, women were slowly getting more involved.
Sullivans Cove, Tasmania’s multi award winning luxury single malt will be available at the Le Clos store in Dubai airport as of November this year. This is the first Tasmanian whisky to be stocked at the top end store which is famous for setting a world record after a customer spent US$107000 on eight bottles of wine in 2010 and was voted “Travel Retail Operator of the Year” in 2009.
“Tasmanian whisky is really taking off across the world, mainly because of its extremely high quality. We are seeing a growing cult following for our whiskies, and recognition such as this to be stocked next to the world’s best wines and spirits in a store of the caliber of Le Clos is further testament to the hard work that we are doing here at home”, said Patrick Maguire, Master Distiller of Sullivans Cove. He added, “I am really proud that Sullivans Cove is leading the way for Tasmanian whiskies.”
Casey Overeem is extremely excited about the first international shipment of Overeem Whisky, distilled in Blackmans Bay, which has found an overseas market in the Netherlands.
They’ve only been on the Tasmanian market for six months, but already Blackmans Bay distiller Casey Overeem has found an overseas market for his single malt whiskies.
Casey, who runs the Old Hobart Distillery at his property in Blackmans Bay, launched the company’s Port cask matured and Sherry cask matured whiskies in December last year.
Soon, a shipment of Overeem Whisky will be bound for the Netherlands.
“This export is made more personal because it’s headed to Amersfoort, Holland, which is a town just a few minutes from the village where my father grew up and where I still have many relatives,” Casey said.
TASMANIAN whisky producers have achieved yet another coup, with one of the state’s single malts going on sale at London department store Harrods.
Sullivans Cove single malt whisky, made by Tasmania Distillery, has been judged by the famous luxury store as Australia’s best and will form part of its new “whiskies of the world” showcase. Sullivans Cove head distiller Patrick Maguire will leave the state today to attend the showcase launch.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us to put our brand out there,” Mr Maguire said.
He has been invited to host a series of in-store tastings for shoppers plus a private tasting for a group of Harrods’ 50 best customers.
“I imagine it will be a pretty exclusive database,” Mr Maguire said.
Like other Tasmanian whisky producers, including Lark Distillery, Sullivans Cove has achieved considerable recognition overseas, including “Liquid Gold status”, as declared by British whisky authority Jim Murray.
You’ve probably seen him at events like Hobart’s Wooden Boat Festival. He’s the man who makes those amazing sand sculptures.
He is also the man who so beautifully restored the old water mill at Nant in Bothwell. And, until the drought hit, he used to grow and sell about two million strawberry runners to all parts of Australia each year.
He also collects waste cooking oil from a few cafes, puts it through a home-made Heath-Robinson set-up and turns it into bio-diesel to run all his farm vehicles, home central heating and hot water.
Most recently, he built himself a 500-litre copper pot still and has become Tasmania’s and, as far as I can tell, Australia’s first producer of rye whisky using the only home-made, bio-diesel-powered still in the country.
You could say Peter Bignell is a most talented and versatile man. And his rye whisky is, for me at least, a knockout.
When he was 15, Peter brought a particular variety of rye from the mainland and grew it to feed sheep and cattle at the family’s Thorpe property at Bothwell. It is the same rye he is growing 40 years later for his whisky on his Belgrove property at Kempton.
The process he uses is much the same as that by which whisky and other distillates are made the world over. Put simply, part of the rye grain is malted (germinated), then mixed with milled rye to form a mash, which is steeped in hot water to convert the soluble grain starches to sugars. The liquid is then drained, fermented and distilled with, in this case, the residual dried mash going to fatten some lucky Berkshire pigs.