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Old Hobart Distillery: Impromptu Visit

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@Rodstar
Rodstar started a discussion

I spent a couple of days earlier this week in Tasmania helping my brother in law find a house - Craig is moving from Falmouth in Cornwall to Tasmania with his family. I did not miss the opportunity to do some whisky tasting while in the whisky capital of Australia.

On the Monday late afternoon we visited the tasting rooms for Lark Distillery. Must be honest, I found all of the Lark expressions to have a dusty musk flavour profile that was not to my liking. One of the positives of the Lark tasting rooms is that they have an excellent selection of other whiskies too, and I had the pleasure of savouring some Ardbeg Galileo.

Thinking we would not have any other tasting opportunities, the next morning I wandered into a cafe across the road from the Beach at Blackmans Bay, when who should walk in to the cafe, but Jane Overeem, the daughter of distiller Casey Overeem, and marketing manager of Old Hobart Distillery. I recognised Jane from the marketing material put forward by the Old Hobart Distillery, and found myself saying "G'day". Next thing I knew, and I had received a personal invitation to visit the distillery for a private tasting and intro to how they make their whisky.

Jane and her father Casey are lovely people, and back at their distillery, they both spent time chatting with me, and showing me their stills and explaining how they make their whisky. They are obviously very proud of their product, and rightly so, having received numerous awards since selling their first expressions in 2011. Their whisky comes in two basic expressions at present: Sherry cask and port cask (each available at 43% and cask strength - 60%), and they will soon be releasing a third expression, aged in bourbon casks. Their standard cask is 100L, which they refer to as "Quarter Casks".

The stills are in the family garage in front of the family home, which looks down from on high down to Blackmans Bay. I took lots of photos - I cannot work out how to post them here or I would do so. The stills are copper, and absolutely gorgeous. They are only producing at a very limited level at this stage. The mash comes from the Cascade distillery in Hobart, and they twice distill - the first run on the Monday, which produces a liquid that is about 30% ABV, and the second run they do on the Tuesday.

The barrels, which they source from South Australia, are stored at a separate warehouse facility, which I did not have the opportunity to visit. The angel's share is 3-4% per annum due to the larger diurnal range in Australia, compared with Scotland.

I had the opportunity to taste the all of the current expressions, and also compare with some tasting with other Tasmanian whiskies. Overeem is right up there, perhaps only beaten by Nant. The port cask has done best in competition, particularly the cask strength expression, which Jim Murray has rated highly, but I preferred the sherry cask expression, being a lover of Sherry Monsters. I ended up purchasing a bottle of cask strength sherry and 43% ABV of the port cask expression, and will report some tasting notes here in the coming days.

Later on the same day I found 30 minutes to have a tasting at the Nant tasting rooms at Salamanca, and this confirmed my view that the Nant cask strength expression is currently the best of the Tasmanian whiskies. However, at $320 for 500mL, Nant's whisky is grossly overpriced, and I will NEVER pay that much for what is still a distillery feeling its way (albeit very well). I ended up purchasing a 200mL bottle of their 43% Sherry wood expression, which was still $65! Still, delicious.

For anyone travelling to Tasmania, I highly recommend an exploration of the growing whisky industry there. The quality is good for young spirit, and will only get better as experience and age in the whisky grows.

10 years ago

4 replies

ockerdogR replied

@Rodstar

HI Rod,

All I can say is that you're one lucky SOB! I'm planning a trip to Tasmania next year with a view to moving there is 2015 with my family. I'd be lying if I said the Tasmania being the whisky capital of Australia wasn't a big influence on our decision to move.

10 years ago 0

@Rodstar
Rodstar replied

@ockerdogR I agree I was very lucky! Where are you living now, and what (apart from whisky) has prompted the plan to move to Tassie? My brother in law is moving their to pursue his career in the boat building industry, and he and his wife think the weather will suit them (coming from Cornwall).

10 years ago 0

ockerdogR replied

@Rodstar

I'm currently living in the ACT, we've been planning a move to Tas for a few years, we've visited a couple of times and love it.. food, wine, whisky, beer, people...everything is awesome. We'd much rather raise our kids in Tasmania than the ACT and the weather's no worse than here.

I've only tried a couple of the Tas expressions which aren't easy to find on the mainland...never tried Lark's so it was interesting to read your opinion in it.

10 years ago 0

@Rodstar
Rodstar replied

@ockerdogR You'll be exchanging one cold place for another LOL. Seriously, I would take Tassie over Canberra any day. Tasmania has incredible natural beauty, enough to keep you wowing for many years, and the price of housing is far far lower than in the ACT. And, as we have agreed, the whisky is a tremendous draw-card in Tassie. I believe they have an active whisky society, which would be a great group to join if you do end up living down there. Good luck with your plans.

10 years ago 0

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