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Tasmania's maturing whisky trade. -

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Far from its traditional home of Scotland and Ireland, the whisky trade has arrived in Australia -
and with six established distilleries and counting, Tasmania is fast becoming Australia's 'whisky
island'.

Transcript

TRACY BOWDEN, PRESENTER: If you're settling in for the evening with a quiet single malt whisky
tonight, chances are it's racked up a lot of food miles and comes from Scotland or Ireland.

When you think of the spirits distilled in this country, you probably think of rum, the colonial
currency.

But there's a maturing whisky trade in Australia and much of it's coming from Tasmania.

There's six established distilleries, and a seventh isn't far away. It's now at the point where
some connoisseurs are calling Tasmania 'Whisky Island.'

From there Martin Cuddihy reports.

MARTIN CUDDIHY, REPORTER: In the early 1800s Tasmania was home to 16 distilleries and produced some
of the finest whisky in the colony until one by one they were outlawed and shut down.

Now nearly 200 years on there's a spiritual revival.

PATRICK MAGUIRE, SULLIVANS COVE DISTILLERY: We can become the Scotland of the Southern Hemisphere
and I think we're already, you know, making steps in that direction.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: One of the spearheads of the revival is Nant's distillery. It's tucked away in
Tasmania's central highlands, a region renowned for its lakes district, its frosty winters and its
Scottish heritage.

Millions have been spent turning the estate's historic flour mill into a single malt distillery.

JOHN ROCHFORT, NANT DISTILLERY: We could like to be known as producing absolutely world class
whisky and we're very boutique at that.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Nant bottled its first release earlier this month. At more than $100 a bottle it's
not cheap but then again that's not the idea.

JOHN ROCHFORT: We finish them in a 100 litre barrel so it's a two year old at the moment.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Nant has the only commercially used water powered mill in the country.

The highlands have given the emerging industry a big boost, cold, clear water, good quality barley
and the perfect temperature for barrel maturation.

TIM DUCKETT, TASMANIAN WHISKY APPRECIATION SOCIETY: They seem to produce a depth of character that
I believe makes us comparable or, I'm going to go out on a limb and say superior to some of the
whiskies that are produced in Scotland.

PATRICK MAGUIRE: There's everything here that we need to make very good quality whisky.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: An hour's drive south the distillers at Sullivan's Cove near Hobart don't like to
rush. The secret for success here is adding a good dose of time. Some whiskies will spend as long
as 15 years maturing.

Sullivan's Cove has been voted the world's best other whisky, that's everywhere except Scotland and
Ireland. It's one reason why Patrick Maguire is aiming his drop at international markets.

PATRICK MAGUIRE: I think if we're going to have an industry we need more distilleries, so I would
like to see, you know, a couple of dozen distilleries in Tasmania.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: The man widely considered to be the godfather of Tasmanian whisky is Bill Lark. He
takes a hands on approach and uses peat from a bog that lies smack in the middle of Tasmania to
create Lark whisky.

Peat adds a distinctly smoky flavour to the drink and another layer of complexity.

BILL LARK, LARK DISTILLERY: When other people around the world taste Australian whiskies, when they
taste Tasmanian whiskies, they ask the question 'what is it that makes your whisky so special?'
Well you've only got to come to a place like this and you'll soon realise why our whisky is so
special.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: 14 years ago he opened the first distillery in since 1839, the first legal one
anyway. It wasn't easy though, he had to overcome a colonial law banning the production of spirits.

BILL LARK: Luckily for us we had a couple of friendly politicians in Duncan Kerr and Barry Jones in
Canberra that saw the potential of the industry in Australia and very quickly changed the
Distillation Act of 1901.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: These days it's very much a family business with Bill taking a step back to allow
his daughter, Kristy Lark, to take over as head distiller. He hasn't retired though and the
expertise that's been built up now sees him consulting at distilleries across Australia and in the
country that's given its name to a drink.

BILL LARK: It's really nice to go back to Scotland and be able to offer something in return for the
help that they gave us and what I found is rather than pooh poohing us silly colonials for having a
go at making whisky they're relishing this relationship that's building between Scotland and
Tasmania.

TIM DUCKETT: Our industry is only 16 year of age, theirs is 400, and we're catching up very, very
rapidly with the quality of the whiskies that we produce.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Tim Duckett is self describeded whisky tragic and part of group called The
Tasmanian Whisky Appreciation Society. With six distilleries on his door step he reckons there are
at least half a dozen good reasons to have a drink.

TIM DUCKETT: We are a group of people that had a common interest, if you like, and whisky for us is
a catalyst that brings us together.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: With more distilleries in the planning phase, including one that will make Bourbon,
there is one question that remains it could have the Scots looking over their shoulder.

How long do you think before Tasmania produces the best whisky in the world?

BILL LARK: I actually don't think it'll be very long at all. Because I don't think it'll be long
before one of the distilleries here in Tasmania produces as whisky... I mean just have a look at
that, that richness of colour, that just sensational.