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Issue 119 - Down Under

Whisky Magazine Issue 119
April 2014

 

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Down Under

Adventures in Tasmania

Ask anyone about whisky industry Tasmania and is never long before you hear the name Bill Lark. Lark is the former surveyor with a passion for Scotch who fancied trying his hand at distilling and accidentally invented a new industry.

Visit the Lark Whisky Bar, on the Hobart waterfront with cloud covered Mount Wellington rising behind and there is a very good chance you'll end up hearing the story first hand from the man they call the Godfather of Australian whisky.

Lark is in particularly high spirits when we meet, having just scored the Best Australian Distiller and Champion Whisky awards at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards.

As I find out over the next couple of days awards and accolades are in no short supply at Tasmanian distilleries. There are now nine distilleries on the island – with two more expected to enter production over the next years.

But the story began when Lark bought a second hand still at a garage sale and realised it was illegal to use it.

“When we wanted to make whisky in Tasmania back in the eighties we realised Tasmania has fantastic barley, plenty of peat, fantastic water and the right sort of climate. So we wondered why somebody is not making whisky.”

Lark discovered the last distillery in Tasmania closed in 1839. When Australia became a federation in 1901 the country adopted the Scottish Distilleries Act, which effectively outlawed smaller operators.

“Nobody really thought about boutique operations it was all about industrial si...

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