Slow and steady
Tasmania’s whisky industry is young by European standards, but it has no problems with taking it slow.
Give Tasmania's reputation for producing world-class whisky, it is hard to believe that it’s been barely 30 years since Bill Lark, founder of Lark Distillery, convinced the authorities to overturn a 150-year old law prohibiting small-batch spirit production on the island.
Fast forward to 2021, and Tasmania is home to more than 20 whisky distilleries. Killara Distillery founder Kristy Booth-Lark says that while her folks, Lyn and Bill Lark, taught themselves the art of whisky production (with a little help from friends in Scotland), their passion for sharing their knowledge helped Tasmania’s whisky production grow. “One distillery doesn’t make an industry,” she says.
Kristy, one of the few female owner-distillers in the world, launched Killara (top left) in 2016, naming it after the street she lived on as a child. It was there that her parents first registered the Lark label. She attributes Tasmania’s success as a whisky producer to its scale. “We focus on small-batch and quality of craft, and I think that really shows through in the whisky.”
Heather Tillott, head distiller at Sullivans Cove, says good whisky just takes time.
Production at Sullivans Cove – the two-time winner of World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards – is slower than many people might think is sane, she says. “We have a reverent respect for the liquid, and we treat it very gently all the way through.”
For now, Heather and her team are planning a physical expansion – a new distillery and cellar door on Hobart’s waterfront is about two years away – but the low and slow approach will never change. “The amazing liquid being distilled in Tasmania is only going to get better,” Heather say.
Visit Killara Distillery in Richmond and Sullivans Cove in Cambridge for tastings.