The origins of single malt whiskey distilling date back centuries. The two main regions that have become synonymous with this grain-based beverage are Scotland and Ireland. In fact, there is even an organisation which was founded in Edinburgh in 1983 called the “Scotch Malt Whisky Society” (SMWS). Operated purely on a membership basis they exclusively distribute over 125 unique varieties worldwide and even have 3 private member’s rooms in different UK locations.
Growing up in the UK I was familiar with the prestige associated with Irish or Scottish single malt whiskey. However, there are many other countries that produce their own high-quality variations including Australia and in particular Tasmania. In fact, many of the boutique distilleries based in this unique state (which isn’t connected to the mainland) have established themselves on the world stage. Here are 6 companies that have taken this craft to an exceedingly high level.
The history of Lark Distillery dates back to 1992 when pioneer Bill Lark established the company. Even though the last Tasmanian distillery closed it door 150 years previously Bill saw potential in the region. Originally the business was a family affair, which comprised Bill, wife Lyn and daughter Kristy (who now owns Killara Distillery). Over the years they have created many exquisite products including their flagship Lark Single Malt Whisky. I was fortunate enough to test this amazing double distilled spirit (that is locally crafted in copper-pot stills) and was incredibly impressed with the sweet, smooth refined taste.
For more information about Lark Distillery visit their website: https://larkdistillery.com
William McHenry Distillery
William McHenry Distillery is located on the Tasman Peninsula and prides itself on being Australia’s southern-most whiskey distillery. I had the great pleasure of meeting William (Bill) McHenry on a recent visit to Hobart and subsequently featured his amazing Sloe Gin in my article entitled ‘The Genius of Craft Gin Producers Part III’. However, the company is synonymous with producing fine single malt whiskey, which matures slowly in wooden barrels. Due to the nature of this product quantities are limited and the demand is very high. I was fortunate to sample this exceptional spirit and savoured every moment.
For more information about William McHenry Distillery visit their website: https://mchenrydistillery.com.au
Sullivans Cove Distillery
Sullivans Cove is Tasmania’s second oldest (Lark Distillery is 1st) distillery and opened its doors in 1994. Even though there were quality issues in the early years the product has vastly improved since new ownership in 1999. In fact, they are now recognised on the world stage and gained international recognition with their American Oak. This fine spirit was honoured with the coveted Best Other Malt prize at the World Whiskies Awards. Previously I featured their refined Hobart No.4 Single Malt Gin in my ‘The Genius of Craft Gin Producers Part III’ article (which also included William McHenry Distillery). That is why I relished the opportunity to taste their magnificent Double Cask DC096, which certainly didn’t disappoint.
For more information about Sullivans Cove Distillery visit their website: https://sullivanscove.com
Hellyers Road Distillery
Hellyers Road Distillery is an exclusive brand located in Burnie, Tasmania. The company is named after an explorer and cartographer Henry Hellyer who as legend would have it carved a historical road (using basic tools) from the bush. Today the business is one of the largest local whiskey producers in the region. In fact, they now export their refined spirits to over 20 different countries worldwide. I was privileged enough to taste their phenomenal Pinot Noir Finish. This incredible spirit was certified as a Global Whisky Master and acknowledged (by renowned U.K. publication), The Spirits Business as one of the World’s Ten Best Value Whiskies. Certainly, I would agree with their expert assessment and found the taste exceptional.
For more information about visit their website: https://hellyersroaddistillery.com.au/
Belgrove Distillery is located near Hobart, Tasmania and prides itself on being the first Rye distillery in Australia. This grain is actually grown/ harvested on the farm and then crafted in a handmade copper still. Impressively the company also lays claim to being the only bio-diesel powered still in the world. The business is the brainchild of Peter Bignall who describes his operation as a sustainable, green craft producer with a small carbon footprint. Where possible water/mash is recycled for irrigation and future crops. It is pertinent to mention at this point that the whiskey is also delicious. I got to test a bottle of their 46.5%, which has silky smooth floral undertones.
For more information about Belgrove Distillery visit their website: http://belgrovedistillery.com.au
The Overeem Distillery was founded by Casey Overeem and is located in Cambridge, Tasmania. Casey’s first foray into the industry began at a relative’s home in Norway. Within this region, it wasn’t uncommon for neighbours to establish micro-distilleries in their own cellars. Ultimately this experimental approach inspired Casey to start producing his own refined whiskeys. Each of these spirits is patiently matured in 100L French and American Oak casks. At this stage, they are fastidiously hand bottled, labelled and distributed in limited numbers to discerning clients worldwide. I sampled their Port Matured 43% Single Cask, Single Malt Whisky, which was totally divine.
For more information about Overeem Distillery visit their website: http://overeemwhisky.com