A committed environmentalist, the whole process is as effective a closed loop as he can make it.
As Peter says: “The only things I bring in are the waste oil and yeast, and the things to go out are whisky and pigs.”
But here’s the tricky bit. The beginnings and ends the fores and feints of distilling runs contain many undesirable flavour and aromatic impurities and the quality of the middle cut, or heart of the run, and of the final product is largely determined by the point at which the distiller cuts these fores and feints off.
Once he has done this on the first distillation, Peter repeats the process by passing the middle cut through a second time to achieve an even purer and higher-alcohol, double-distilled rye spirit.
Now, Scotch and Tasmanian malt whisky are made from 100 per cent malted barley. The American bourbons you see around the traps by law are made using a minimum of 51 per cent corn, the balance being made up of other grains.
Similarly, American rye whisky is made using a minimum of 51 per cent rye, while Peter’s is from 100 per cent rye.
Rye was the most popular style of whisky in the US until Prohibition and the subsequent advent of bourbon. Sweeter and fruitier than bourbon, it was also the original basis of such famous cocktails as the Manhattan and Old Fashion.
While I’m far from being any sort of expert on these styles of whisky, what Peter has produced and bottled since his first bottling in February is quite wonderfully sweet, fruity and spicy, smooth and without any coarse vegetal aromas or flavours. And it goes down a treat.
While he’s experimenting with barrel ageing, at this stage the whisky is a colourless “white” spirit, making it an ideal mixer.
Perhaps some bar around town might even like to see what a true Manhattan or Old Fashion tasted like in their original form.
For Peter, it’s still early days and production is understandably small.
“The pot still I made is modelled on one of Bill Lark’s early ones,” he says.
“Down the track, when I really get going, I’ll build a larger one.”
In the meantime, his Belgrove White Rye whisky is available at Cool Wines and Lark Distillery in Hobart, or Peter can be contacted on 0409 144 560.
Article by Graeme Phillips