Tasmanian whisky: Six of the best distilleries to visit

CALLINGTON MILL

This sprawling whisky distillery is in the historic town of Oatlands, about an hour and a half south of Launceston, and it's a sparkling new facility with high ambitions to become the finest producer of wee drams in Australia. And it probably will. A visit here could take up a full afternoon, by the time you've checked out the historic mill and stables, taken a self-guided tour of the distillery, sampled the large range of Callington products, and then grabbed a meal at the excellent restaurant. Well worth taking the time to experience. See callingtonmilldistillery.com 

BELGROVE DISTILLERY

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Image supplied by Tourism Tasmania, approved for Traveller use only - print and online. Note credit requirements

Photo: Tourism Tasmania

Peter Bignell is a farmer who found himself with a surfeit of rye one year, and so decided to make some whisky. He built a still, refashioned an old laundromat dryer into a malting station, rejigged a gas bottle into a peat smoker, and away he went. The whisky was such a hit that Belgrove Distillery was born, and it's gone from strength to strength ever since. The distillery is still based on Peter's farm, 45 minutes north of Hobart, and it's still a DIY outfit, with tastings at a makeshift bar in Peter's old horse stables. Look at the photos on the walls when you're there: turns out Peter Bignell, Tassie farmer, also makes ice and sand sculptures. See belgrovedistillery.com.au 

KILLARA DISTILLERY

Kristy Booth-Lark has some serious pedigree: she's the daughter of Bill Lark, godfather of Australian-made whisky, and she has inherited her father's skill at making distilled spirits. Kristy runs Killara Distillery, just outside Hobart, and it's her you are likely to meet when you call into the boutique distillery for a tasting of whisky, gin or liqueur. All are excellent, though the gin is probably the highlight, made using botanicals grown on Kristy's property. In fact, pretty soon everything will be grown here: Kristy is planting more botanicals, putting in a field of barley to make whisky, and even growing oak trees to use in her own barrels.

killaradistillery.com

OLD KEMPTON DISTILLERY

You can feel the passion at Old Kempton Distillery when you chat to the distilling team here: they love what they do, and they're very good at it. To find out just how good, book yourself a spot at the cellar door, housed in an 1840s colonial inn in the sleepy town of Kempton, 45 minutes north of Hobart. If it's a sunny day, take a seat out in the courtyard and work your way through a paddle of four spirits: maybe whisky, or gin, or liqueur, or some of everything. There are group tours of the distillery run every day at 1.30pm. There's also a cafe and shop on site. See oldkemptondistillery.com.au 

SULLIVANS COVE DISTILLERY

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Image supplied by Tourism Tasmania, approved for Traveller use only - print and online. Note credit requirements

Photo: Natalie Mendham/Tourism Tasmania

There are two seriously big names in Tasmanian whisky: Lark, the original distillery, and Sullivans Cove, which many would say is the best. Those "many" include the judges from the World Whiskies Awards, who bestowed the title of Best Single Malt Whisky in the World to Sullivans Cove in 2014. So yes, this is serious stuff. The Sullivans Cove distillery is in Cambridge, just outside Hobart. There are tours run daily, though if you're not that keen on looking at various metal cylinders, head straight to a tasting: $30 for three whiskies; $65 for three special release or old whiskies; or $20 for a brandy flight. See sullivanscove.com 

HARTSHORN DISTILLERY

Hartshorn has been making waves around Australia with its "Sheep Whey Vodka", a spirit distilled using leftover whey from Grandvewe Cheeses, a cheesemaker on the same property. Utilising something that would normally just be tossed out, Hartshorn has now released a whole range of whey spirits, from vodka to gin to liqueurs to a peated spirit close to whisky. Drop by the distillery in Birchs Bay, with its views over Bruny Island, for a standard tasting, or maybe a gin creation workshop, or even classes on churning your own butter. See hartshorndistillery.com.au 

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The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Tasmania

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