Tasmania's Unique Whisky
Whether you take it neat or on the rocks, mixed in a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned, spelled with or without an 'e' (hint: both spellings are correct, but in Australia we tend to go without the 'e'), good whisky has never been so fashionable.
Unsurprisingly, Tasmania does really good whisky – damn well. Maybe it's the pure mountain water or perhaps it's the cool, temperate climate or something in our bootlegging convict blood, but there are more than a few Taswegian distillers taking on the ancient art of fermenting grain mash and playing in the same league as the big boys.
The Tasmanian artisan whisky industry kicked off around 1992 when Bill Lark distilled a barrel at home. Lark Distillery now ranks among the nine registered distilleries around the state. Boutique Tasmanian distilleries Sullivans Cove and Nant both received lofty mentions in the 2013 World Whisky Bible – no mean feat in an international industry that has been established for centuries. Burnie's Hellyers Road Distillery is the largest producer in Tasmania, employing 20 people while Overeem Old Hobart Distillery (home of the 2012 World of Whisky's 'whisky of the year') is based in a suburban garage. At Port Arthur, William McHenry and Sons is Australia's southern-most whisky distillery – using the spring water that flows off Mount Arthur and making the most of the chilly and moist environment as the spirit matures in its wooden barrels.
A trait shared by Tasmanian distillers is the production of small batches with fine ingredients – a slower, hands-on process that has more in common with the methods used to make whisky 150 years ago than the modern mass-production methods of today's bigger brands.
An original twist on the ubiquitous wine and cheese gourmet trails of Tassie, the Tasmanian Whisky Trail leads aficionados from one artisanal distillery to another, where they can touch and feel the ingredients, smell the latest batch distilling and, of course, sample some of the finest single malts in the world.