Guest Blog: Tasmanian Distilleries

When you think of the whisk(e)y producing regions of the world, Australia wouldn’t be at the top of everybody’s’ list. That said, Australia’s whisky producers are doing their best to change that. In particular, quality distilleries are popping up all over the island of Tasmania. The island has a rich history with distilling that was unfortunately hampered by a prohibition that lasted over 150 years. Since its repeal in the 1990’s many new Tasmanian distilleries have been making a name for themselves on the world stage. Probably most notably, Sullivan’s Cove has hauled in more awards for its whisky than most distillers could dream about. Furthermore, the demand for their highly awarded “French Oak” has seen the retail prices per bottle hit highs of $350AUD.

Myself and Casey and Kevin from Old Hobart Distillery

My own personal experience with Tasmanian whisky was not Sullivan’s Cove but in fact a beautiful cask strength sherry cask whisky, from the guys at the Old Hobart Distillery. The name of the distillery might not ring many bells but their whisky “Overeem” is certainly known in whisky communities around the world. Their whisky is of very good quality, produced in small batches and at cask strength. Casey Overeem (owner) has dedicated the company to making quality whisky with no additives or impurities. I recently even got to meet the guys from Old Hobart on their tour around Scotland and Ireland’s distilleries.


Although, Sullivan’s Cove and Overeem aren’t the only names in Tasmanian whisky to keep an eye out for.
Recently, family friends/roving whisk(e)y reporters David and Michele Fay checked out some of what the other distilleries around Tasmania had to offer. Thankfully for me (who has never set foot in Australia) they got to check out some of the behind the scenes action in the distilleries and sample some of the highly sought after nectar before reporting it all back to us here at Potstilled!

Nant: “Tasmanian highland whisky located in Bothwell. The distillery is on the site of an old flour mill. The owner found an old medicine bottle on the site and this formed the design for the bottles that are used. The mill is claimed to be the oldest in Australia.
They double distill the whisky which is styled on the Scottish method of distilling whisky; indeed they have a Scottish Master Distiller. None of the whiskies are peated. They distill the whisky in half casks for 5-6 years.”
“We had the prividge of trying three of their whiskies, (from their classic collection), Bourbon Wood Single Cask, French cask Pinot Noir and the Sherry Wood Single Cask.”
Bourbon cask (43%):
Visually a lovely crisp golden colour. On the nose it had a slight vanilla and honey smell. The flavours coming through on the palate were honey and vanilla with a dark fruity finish and soft sugars. Very smooth and palatable. 
David and Michele Fay
French Oak Pinot Noir cask (43%):
Visually a darker caramel colour to the whisky. On the nose was a toffee / caramel sweetness which followed through on the palate. Honey and vanilla undertones with a clean crisp finish. 
{Nant is the only whisky distillery of the 9 in Tasmania to use French Oak Pinot Noir casks.}
Sherry cask (63%):
The darkest of the 3 sampled visually. A nutty sweet smell coming through on the nose. Chocolate undertones come through on the palate with a heat to the finish. The delicate flavour of sherry follows through. 
The Bourbon cask was actually award a 95.5/100 in Jim Murray’s whisky bible. Placing it in the top 50 whiskies in the world at the time.
Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 7.12.29 p.m.
Lark: “This is the oldest whisky distillery in Tasmania. (As previously mentioned) Up to 1992 there was a ban on whisky production in Tasmania. Bill Lark who founded this distillery got the laws changed and started the first whisky distillery in the state for over 150 years. His daughter Kirsty is one of the youngest female distillers in the world. They have their own peat bogs next to the distillery which is located in Cambridge, Tasmania. They also use a barley that has an oily finish.”
They also tried three of the whiskies produced by Lark: Classic Cask, Classic Strength and the limited edition Rum Cask.
Classic cask (43%):  This is their flagship whisky aged in port barrels. A clean looking whisky with a floral slightly peaty nose. Certainly not overbearing on the peat. There is a floral, sweet palate with a slight peaty taste following through on the finish. Bill refers to this as the “breakfast” whisky as it is such an easy drink. 
Cask strength (58%): This is also finished in a port cask. Michele found a burning sensation on the nostrils. There is a strong smell of vanilla woodiness. On the palate a harshness is experienced with the cask strength and definitely an oiliness comes through. There are vanilla tones with rich malts and a light earthy peatiness. This is considered a long complex whisky.
Rum cask. (65%): This had a vanilla nose with a peaty finish. To the palate were citrus and orange peel notes, slight vanilla undertones and a peaty after taste,although not overbearing. Michele preferred to “open” this one up with some water that made it more palatable for her. 

I think you’ll agree that the whiskies sampled by David and Michele sound fantastic and I would be over the moon to have the access to the places that these two somehow got into. Sadly for me and many other whisky enthusiasts in the world outside of Australia, we don’t get to see these bottles all too often! Furthermore, the bottles run in the hundreds so the average entry line! So a little out of my price range but hopefully will get to taste more of what Tasmania has to offer one of these days!

Very special thanks for David and Michele for documenting their visits around the Tasmanian distilleries and for agreeing to my first ever guest bloggers!

Leave a Reply

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: