Whisky Magazine Issue 138
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A whisky haven
Tasmania is a small, fertile island, about the size of Scotland but with only 10 per cent of the population of the latter. It sits off the southeast coast of Australia and has become a Mecca for malt whisky enthusiasts looking for the latest in distilled perfection. The original colony was awash with whisky with as many as 16 distilleries. Local brewing interests lobbied the Governor on the social advantages of beer over whisky and so whisky distilling was banned in 1839.
Bill Lark the founder of modern Tasmanian whisky
Thus it remained until one Bill Lark had the prohibition legislation repealed and regulations changed so as to allow distilling to recommence by having the minimum still capacity reduced to a manageable size for craft distilling. And so 153 years later in 1992 distilling quietly reappeared to satisfy the very personal ambitions of one man who liked his malt whisky and thought it high time he should try making his own.
After all, Tasmania has amazingly clean air, sparkling clear water, and excellent local barley, which is used in the brewing industry and has proved to be every bit as good for making whisky.
Tasmania is thus naturally well endowed for the task of making good malt whisky. However, without the efforts of a small number of individuals it might have gone nowhere. These early pioneers were Bill Lark, Patrick Maguire (Sullivans Cove), Casey Overeem (Old Hobart) and, in a consulting and advisory role, Brian Poke (Cradle Mountain Whisky, Hellyers ...