In the mid 1800’s the Governor of Tasmania imposed a prohibition on making distilled spirits. Apparently there was a bit of a drinking problem on the island and the number of distilleries was more than partly to blame. As time passed, the prohibition was forgotten until 1992 when Bill Lark (of what is now Lark Distillery) wanted to start a craft whisky distillery in Tasmania. Luckily for us he did as the whisky in Tasmania is fantastic!
Luckily for whisky drinkers, the prohibition was repealed and the Tasmanian whiskey industry began in earnest. While still relatively unknown throughout the world Tasmania has a rapidly growing world class whisky industry.
Tasmanian whisky producers Overeem, Lark, Nant, Sullivans Cove and Hellyers Road are having success on the global stage winning awards in global whisky competitions and shining the spotlight on the world’s newest whisky region. So if you like your whisky, follow us on the trail of great whisky in Tasmania.
Opportunities for the Tasmanian Whisky Industry
So with a whisky industry approaching 25 years old there is a world of opportunity ahead for Tasmania whisky producers.
Once you start a distillery it takes about 10 years to produce your product (it does have to age) so managing cash flow and generating revenue of some sort while your product matures is essential. Many whisky producers turn to gin or vodka to generate cash flow in these early years. Other challenges include access to capital to expand and gaining access to distribution.
Compared to global competitors, Tasmanian producers are tiny! With small production quantities, the focus has been on quality. Most of the whisky in Tasmania is all hand produced including the bottling and labelling.
Entering global competitions to benchmark product quality and gain brand recognition is also part of the overall strategy. Several Tasmanian whisky makers have been quite successful in global competitions including Sullivan’s Cove winning the best single malt whisky in the world at the World Whiskies Awards in 2014.
Today, there are 13 distilleries on the Tasmanian Whisky Trail. And while there are distilleries located all over Tasmania, your weekend escape to Hobart is the perfect opportunity to try the local whisky and visit a couple of local cellar doors in or near Hobart.
Whisky at the Cellar Door in Hobart
Nant Distilling and Lark Distillery have cellar doors and tasting rooms near the waterfront in historic Hobart.
Located along the waterfront, Lark Distillery has a full service whisky bar. It serves not only tasting flights of Lark whisky, but also some of the best whiskies from around the world. There are several set tasting flights, 100’s of bottles of single malt whisky from around the world (Scottish, Indian, Japanese and more) and a selection of Tasmanian whisky and other local spirits on offer.
The prices are very reasonable and honestly Lark Distillery Whisky Bar has some of the best drink prices in town making it the perfect place to stop at the end of the day to try a whisky in Tasmania before you head off to dinner.
In Salamanca Place, just a short walk from Lark Distillery by the waterfront, is the Nant Whisky Bar. Offering tasting flights or individual drams of Nant Whisky, this is a great place for a nightcap. (The Nant Distillery is located in Bothwell about 1.5 hours outside of Hobart. Tours and tastings for visitors are available at the distillery.)
Visit Sullivan’s Cove in Cambridge
Our third stop, used to be in the town of Sullivan’s Cove (thus the name), but as production and inventory has grown, Sullivan’s Cove Whisky moved to larger premises in Cambridge, a short drive or taxi ride from Hobart. Tours and tastings are available for visitors.
Sullivan’s Cove won the world’s best single malt whisky in 2014 at the World Whiskies Awards (from Whisky Magazine) which put them and the Tasmanian whisky industry firmly on the global map. Not only was it a huge win for Sullivan’s Cove, but it was also the first time a non Scottish or Japanese whisky has won best single malt.
One of the surprising things about visiting Sullivan’s Cove is the size of the operation. We have been to the smallest distillery in Scotland, Edradour Distillery which makes a mere 90,000 liters of whisky a year. Edradour looks huge compared to Sullivan’s Cove! (And Sullivan’s Cove outgrew their previous location!)
Everything at Sullivan’s Cove is done by hand including bottling and labelling. Since winning the 2014 best single malt whisky award, they can hardly keep up! Having raised prices several times, they still struggle to meet demand. What a great problem to have!
So if you are on the trail of great whisky in Tasmania, Hobart is an ideal stop!