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.