Visiting the distilleries of Tasmania

As recently as 15 years ago, the term “Australian whisky industry” used to be a cute little phrase that vaguely referred to the activities of a few hobby-distillers, whose products were more curiosities than serious globally-acclaimed malts.

Today, nothing could be further from the truth: A swag of international awards; coopers and coppersmiths suddenly in constant work; an industry that supports visitor centres and regular tours; impressive investment in new stills and bondstores; and well-aged stock on the shelves of major chain liquor outlets.

Travelling to these distilleries and visiting them is not necessarily an easy task, particularly taking into account the rural likes of Limeburners in Albany, or Blackgate in Mendooran.  However, with the bulk of the action taking place in Tasmania, a quick trip to Hobart and its surrounds allows the whisky tourist to see quickly and in no uncertain terms that the Australian whisky industry is a force to be reckoned with.  So for those wanting a snapshot of the main Tasmanian distilleries, or for those thinking of touring the Apple Isle and paying our friends a visit, here’s your guide to the main players amongst Tasmania’s whisky scene:

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Bringing balance to the foreshots

A joint essay & publication by Matthew Fergusson-Stewart of Whisky Molecules, and Andrew Derbidge of Whisky & Wisdom.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, your two correspondents were co-hosting a tasting event together and explaining the distillation process to the audience, going into detail about the fractioning – better known as the foreshots, middle cut, and feints.  We explained that the foreshots was heavy in methanols and other undesirable elements, which everyone was happy to accept.  We also explained how the foreshots and feints are never wasted, but are mixed back in with the next batch of low wines, and the process continues repeatedly. Everyone was happy to accept that, too.  Well, almost everyone.  One chap sitting near the front objected: “If the foreshots keep being recycled and mixed back in, won’t you get a continually increasing build-up of methanol in the spirit?”   Ummmm……

It’s a vexing question that’s since been posed to us both many times.  What do they do with the methanol and where does it go?

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