Tag Archives: Hobart

Nant Whisky Bar, Hobart

Recent financial shenanigans in Tasmania only highlight the large stakes at play in trying to develop a whisky distillery.

Nant Whisky Distilling  – which had a somewhat troubled financial history – are currently in receivership whilst the sorry mess is sorted out.

It remains to be seen how this new development will play out for the very attractive looking distillery in Bothwell – which I didn’t manage to visit – and a trio of whisky bars – including the one in Hobart which I did call into.

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The Nant, Hobart c/othewhiskeynut

Situated in the wonderfully attractive quayside area of Salamanca Market in downtown Hobart, The Nant Whisky Bar offers punters a large comfortable space to enjoy an evenings libations.

I happened to be the only customer for an early morning – 11ish – visit on a beautifully sunny yet cold winter’s day – complete with a dusting of snow on the slopes of Mt Wellington which rises up behind the city.

There was a good range of whiskies behind the bar – Scotch, Japanese, Irish & some American too – but I did notice Nant were the only Australian representatives on show. Now OK. This is a ‘tied’ bar – but as Tasmanian whisky is promoting a friendly camaraderie & all the other bars in town had at least 2 or 3 Tasmanian distilleries products on show – it did make me ponder.

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The Nant Bar c/othewhiskeynut

There was a choice of 2 Nant whisky flights to enjoy. The cask strength at 63% – or the standard 43% offering.

Now there are some expressions that are perfectly drinkable at 60% and above – but they are few and far between. I also find adding water a rather imprecise exercise which would probably bring down the liquid close to the 43% level anyway – and as it was still the morning – the standard flight it was.

I think I chose well. Even at 43% there was a strong alcoholic kick on the nose of all 3 single malt expressions.

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Nant whisky flight c/othewhiskeynut

Starting with the American Bourbon Cask, there were the signature vanilla & caramel notes coming through. Very nice – but very familiar. I’d find it hard on a blind tasting to distinguish this Australian malt from the best Scotland or Ireland has to offer.

The American Sherry Cask brought added depth & fruity notes. Whilst the darkest coloured French Port Cask bottle gave the heaviest mouthfeel with deeper & richer notes. The Port Cask – as you may have already guessed – came out tops for me.

Oddly, the Bourbon Cask was the priciest to buy – at tear inducing prices – which when I questioned the bartender, she shot me a look which suggested I shouldn’t follow Kasabian’s advice & Shoot The Runner!

With the future of Nant Distilling now very uncertain – the labels, design & content of any further releases may change. There are barrels still maturing – but who knows what will happen to them.

Perhaps what I sampled back in 2016 are destined to become collectors items never to be repeated again?

I’m just happy to have had the opportunity to taste what I did at the time.

Whisky.

It ebbs and flows on the fortunes & failures of the time.

Catch it while you can.

Sláinte.

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Bruny is Bonzer

Trying to drive up Mt Wellington and then take a ferry ride to an off-shore island in the middle of a winter’s storm probably wasn’t our finest hour – but it was our last day on Tasmania.

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Mt Wellington c/othewhiskeynut

The snow covered top of Mt Wellington eluded us as the access road was blocked by fallen trees due to the high winds that made walking along O’Gradys Falls Track a bit hazardous. We were rewarded however by some stunning views of the Mt above us and Hobart itself below.

A reviving mid-morning snack had to be delayed as the nearby cafe – and surrounding area – had no electricity due to broken power lines. A detour to Mt Nelson satisfied us with some tea & cakes looking over the indented coastline framed by a permanent rainbow that lay off to the east.

Heading in that direction down the Huon Valley we passed by suburbs with names like Kingston, Margate and Blackmans Bay, home to a lovely sandy beach…

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Blackmans Bay c/othewhiskeynut

And Overeem Distillery. Sited in the owners back garden the distillery isn’t open to visitors but does produce some stunning single malt whisky which I managed to sample later on in my trip.

Nearing Kettering signs for Bruny Island appeared and on a whim Mrs Whiskey suggested we go there. Despite the high winds and squally weather the ferry ride was very smooth. Half an hour later we were driving on Bruny itself and rounding a corner came across House Of Whisky.

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House Of Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Sat on a slight rise overlooking a sheltered bay House Of Whisky isn’t what you expect on a small island. It’s a treasure trove of Tasmanian whisky containing a myriad of bottles from all the distilleries – allegedly the largest collection of Tasmanian single malt whisky in the world!

I could have stayed all day!

But one look from herself reminded me I was the driver and that WE were on holiday together to explore the scenery and had an island to see whilst the weather was still reasonable!

I quietly arranged to call in on our way back for a snack.

At over 100km long Bruny Island is made up of North Island and South Island separated by a picturesque narrow isthmus called The Neck. We chose to head North to Dennes Point on the appropriately named Storm Bay. Very quickly we left the tarmac behind and drove on dirt roads which ran through pleasant pasture land interspersed with some forest & scrub.

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Foaming seas on Bruny c/othewhiskeynut

A picnic table beside the beach was being lashed by salty spray from the foaming sea whipped up by the winds and I feared for the state of the hired car on our return.

A row of distinctive post boxes by the roadside in an otherwise deserted forest area hinted to a sparsely populated island.

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Post boxes on Bruny c/othewhiskeynut

The crowning glory of the island has to be the stunning vista of The Neck which despite the grey skies, rolling seas and brooding storm clouds still captivated me with it’s rugged beauty. Home to thousands of Fairy Penguins and Short-Tailed Shearwaters, The Neck marked our turning point as we headed back for the ferry.

A bowl of award winning hot & tasty chowder duly warmed us inside House Of Whisky after our bracing walks. Herself enjoyed a fine Tasmanian wine whilst I had some difficulty choosing which whisky to taste from the bewildering display.

I went for one of only 2 Tasmanian Whisky Bottlers – Heartwood, The Revelation.

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Heartwood The Revelation c/othewhiskeynut

Tim Heartwood matures casks of Tasmanian single malt to his own particular style and requirements which he then releases at cask strength. At 62.5% this Tasmanian sphagnam peated expression distilled at Lark Distillery certainly packed a punch. Rich & full bodied with a 50% peat influence I was expecting a bigger peaty hit rather than the soft afterglow of a barbie by the billabong.

‘Aha’ added the very helpful owner who also is the proprietor of Trapper’s Hut whisky.

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Trapper’s Hut Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

‘That’s because it’s Tasmanian peat, it tastes more soft than Scottish peat.’

It certainly is a different taste experience to a traditional peated Scotch.

It got me wondering what an Irish whiskey would taste like containing Irish barley infused with Irish peat?

At present, peated Irish expressions use Scottish peated barley. There are historical and economical reasons for this – but I’m pretty sure there would be a slight taste difference if it was tried.

Heartwood The Revelation had it’s own characteristics in contrast to similarly peated Scotch expressions which endeared itself to me.

Locally produced with ingredients sourced locally – Heartwood has provenance and terroir in abundance.

Alas a ferry awaited us so I couldn’t indulge in more whisky tastings. Oh for a more elongated and relaxed visit!

It took just over an hour to get back to Hobart. The heavens opened up in almost biblical proportions on the way, washing the car of all the sea salt and dirt track mud acquired on Bruny.

Our memories of Bruny and House Of Whisky will not be so easily discarded.

If you ever get the chance, give Bruny a visit.

It’s bonzer.

Slainte.

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‘Twas Lashing In Launceston

Despite being July – it’s winter in Tasmania and a heavy depression was forecast bearing snow. We decided to head North out of Hobart for the day to avoid the white stuff.

The spectacular scenery of the Derwent River Valley soon had us in awe prompting many stops for photos. Very quickly we passed by road signs naming towns I knew harboured whisky distilleries. Alas – being the driver for the day meant I had to pass them by!

Cambridge – Home to the Lark Distillery after moving out of it’s Hobart base.

Kempton – The whole farm to bottle ethos of Peter Bignell certainly produces some excellent rye whisky.

Redlands Distillery is also in the town.

Bothwell – The Nant Distillery has it’s picturesque base here.

There were also a myriad of signs beckoning the wine lover to vineyards. Tasmania is truly full of wine, whisky and beer production to please all tastes.

The rains soon came down after we had crossed over Spring Hill Tier which at nearly 400m / 1300ft is one of the highest points on the Midland Highway. Rains so persistent and heavy that it reminded Mrs Whiskey of driving to work in Galway!

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Pert Post Office c/othewhiskeynut

I only got out of the car for a brief photo opportunity at Perth. Partly as the Post Office corrugated iron work architecture appealed to me and also in homage to Perth in Scotland – once a hotbed of whisky distilling and blending being former hometown to Bells, Dewars and Famous Grouse.

By the time we reached our destination of Launceston there were flood reports on the radio. It reminded us of Midlands 103 back home and the flooding in Athlone – although we both had to laugh at the irony of Dangerous Dave on Heart 107.3 as he tended to play the most inoffensive  middle of the road rock ever. We did sing along though – despite the downpour outside! Shame he didn’t play this exciting slice of Aussie pop.

Launceston also happens to have a new whisky distillery in the making – Launceston Distillery – as well as housing the James Boag Brewery of which tours are available.

We chose some lunch however.

Pierre’s Restaurant Brasserie seemed to satisfy both of our requirements. Fine food for herself and some fine whisky for me.

We weren’t disappointed.

The warm sumptuous interior contrasted with the wild wet weather outside. There were quite a few lunchtime diners delaying their departure until the deluge subsided.

I ordered a bowl of hot tasty soup along with a Nant American Oak Sherry Wood Single Cask – well – we had passed by the distillery on the way. The sherry finish gave a sweet body to the rather light yet well balanced single malt.

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Nant American Oak Single Cask c/othewhiskeynut

Hesrelf had a lovely wine and Thai fish cakes.

Tasmania seems to excel in it’s gastronomic delights. Our meal was only a light snack yet was bursting with flavours – much like the Tassie whisky!

I got chatting with some of the friendly helpful staff. They have quite a range of Tassie whisky on show at the front bar. Whisky and gin tasting evenings have been held which were  very well attended and enjoyed. More events supporting locally produced food & drinks are always being explored.It’s a pity we wouldn’t be around for the next extravaganza.

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Pierre’s whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Luckily by the time we had finished our lovely meal the rains had eased allowing us a visit to Launceston Cataract Gorge which was our intended tourist spot of the day.

The heavily wooded steep sided slopes drop down to a raging river below swelled by all the recent precipitation. A cable car ride across the ravine is a high point but sadly it happened to be closed. We made do with a walk along the forested trail. Dusk wasn’t far away and some of the local wildlife made their presence felt.

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Tasmanian Pademelon c/oMrsWhiskey

A quick snap of the animal confirmed it to be a Tasmanian Pademelon. A small type of kangaroo only found in Tasmania and normally nocturnal in it’s habits. Seeing it certainly made us happy to have spotted a few of them in their natural environment.

Not a bad way to end our trip to Launceston – despite the lashing rain!

Slainte

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MONA And The Art Of Distillation

After a morning sampling Tasmanian single malts at the Lark Cellar Door Bar and Nant Whiskey Bar, Mrs Whiskey rang to say I had 10 minutes to make the pier for the ferry to MONA – Museum of Old And New Art- and our cultural afternoon out.

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Amoosing cow! c/othewhiskeynut

The ferry itself is a funky catamaran which has it’s own art installations in the shape of painted plastic sheep & a cow on the aft deck which amused the passengers very much.

Talking about funky – who remembers this slice of 80’s Aussie pop?

I was even more amused to find out the museum also produces it’s own wine and beer – how cool is that? – so what better way of enjoying the scenic boat trip up the Derwent River than with a glass of Moorilla wine or Moo Brew beer?

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Moo Brew Dark Ale c/othewhiskeynut

Coming in a very stylish wine-bottle shaped glass container with a trendy design – I just hoped the contents were equally as good. The Dark Ale didn’t disappoint. Rich, black & heavy with a noticeable malt content and sweet caramel notes on top – just my kind of art. Herself enjoyed the wine too!

Arriving at the rocky peninsular the museum is set on the rains luckily abated to allow us to view the outdoor exhibits. A life-size sculpture of a low loader truck & trailer complete with cement mixer on top stole centre stage. Having driven the real thing for my living the detail amazed me – along with my curious mind wondering how many tonnes of steel rod went into making it and how did they get it here?

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Intricate Iron Work c/othewhiskeynut

Moving inside we descended down into the sandstone bedrock of the small hill the museum is sat on. A spectacular underground gallery awaits your exploration housing all sorts of weird, wonderful and thought provoking art in it’s myriad of forms.

A waterfall display spelled out random words against the bare walls using a giant inkjet type assembly –  but with water – impressed us for starters. Very simple design – yet stunning to see and hear.

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The labyrinth of MONA c/othewhiskeynut

We wondered the labyrinth of rooms & spaces alternately gazing in awe – or being nonplussed – by the variety and cornucopia of art within. Some we loved – others we didn’t – but either way it instilled a reaction or questioning of what it was all about.

As usual a break was in order. This is where MONA excelled itself – at least in my eyes. The Void Bar on the basement floor set at the foot of the sandstone dungeon had a fine array of Tasmanian whisky to try!

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The Void Bar @ MONA c/othewhiskeynut

Not what I was expecting in a museum.

How could I refuse?

Having driven past Peter Bignell’s distillery at Kempton the other day I just had to try his Belgrove White Rye expression. It’s an unaged new spirit – hence the clear liquid. At  40% the young alcohol content is noticeable but the nose is full of rotting fruit notes, sweet but enticing, and a slight rye spice too. The rye comes through more on the taste along with pleasing fruit & spice. Not what I’d expect from a new spirit. It’s different, it’s unique, it’s got terroir and provenance in abundance and it’s utterly enticing. I could have sat for the rest of the afternoon in this fabulous setting enjoying the fruits of Peter Bignell’s art of distillation!

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Belgrove White Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Herself – despite enjoying the wine & nibbles we had – insisted we see some more of the real art before catching the ferry home.

The fat Porsche did take my eye – but most of the others passed me by as the cumulative affect of art overload together with some lovely whiskies was beginning to take it’s toll. I did wonder though how the human model remained so still displaying the tattoo art on his back and would have gone up to ask him were it not for the museum attended close by. 

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Human art – looking forward to a glass of Tassie whisky at the bar below? c/othewhiskeynut

By the time we exited darkness was already falling. There was much to discuss on the ferry home as to what we had viewed and experienced at MONA.

The ferry ride?

The art?

The scenery?

For me it was a combination of all those things topped off with a Moo Brew ale and a stunning Tasmanian  whisky that made the day.

What a fitting venue to enjoy the art of whisky distillation in!

Sláinte.

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The Mania in Tasmania was fierce

No whisky trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to Tasmania. The island off the bottom right hand corner of the continent is home to the tastiest and most lauded single malts Australia has to offer.

It’s also where the modern rebirth of whisky down under began. Bill Lark lobbied to get outdated liquor laws changed to allow the legal distillation of spirits to begin back in 1992.

Since those early amatuer days the industry has grown to produce many fine single malts. The pinnacle undoubtedly was Sullivans Cove winning Best Single Malt of the year in 2014.

My visit only scratched the surface of the stunning scenery, endemic wildlife, fine food and fabulous whisky that Tasmania has to offer – and the combination of it all left us – well – Thunderstruck!

The short flight from Melbourne soon had us looking down on the heavily wooded and indented coastline near Hobart. As the sun shone brightly – albeit with a cool breeze – we decided to head straight down the Tasman Peninsular to take advantage of the lovely weather.

Soon immersed in the awe inspiring landscape we quickly passed by some distilleries;

Nonesuch Distillery, makers of Dry Gin, Sloe Gin and Sloe Malt , had their closed sign up at the entrance.

Port Arthur Lavender, a distillery making perfumed products. Open but passed this by.

McHenry Distillery, actual whisky distillers! Along with gin and vodka – but closed due to construction of a visitors centre. Despite coming across their new single malt on Brooke Street Pier in Hobart it was only available by the bottle – so I never did get a taster of the contents.

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McHenry Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

We also came across a small flock of Green Rosellas feeding on the ground. These very colourful birds -along with about a dozen other species – are only found in Tasmania and it was a joy to see them.

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Green Rosella c/othewhiskeynut

Our destination of the day at Port Arthur Penal Colony encapsulated the historic beginnings of modern Tasmania in all it’s  gory detail – yet set in stunning scenery. Gently ambling around we soon heard and later spotted our first Kookaburra of the trip.

Getting dark at about 5pm in the Australian winter came as a shock after leaving the Irish summer where 11pm was lights out. We still had to check in at our hotel. Phone coverage wasn’t great so we hightailed it back to Hobart – thankfully not encountering any wildlife along the way to add to the roadkill we saw in the sunshine.

The sparkling lights of Hobart glittering on the hillside beyond were a beautiful sight as we drove over the graceful Tasman Bridge. Very soon afterwards we felt the warm embrace of The Customs House Hotel.

I felt an even warmer embrace after enjoying a lovely meal in the cosy dining area heated by a homely open fire overlooking Hobart’s docklands – especially as the meal was washed down by some tasty Tassie whisky!

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Some Customs House Hotel whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Having previously tasted the Hellyers Road Peated expression – which I enjoyed very much – I kicked off with their 10 year old Original bottling. Aged in ex-bourbon casks, non chill-filtered at 46.2% this is a lovely smooth and rich example of a decent single malt. It just didn’t have the peat bite I liked.

Overeem Sherry Cask was my night cap. Distilled in nearby Blackmans Bay – a suburb of Hobart – this offering also had a rich taste with a  more heavy mouthfeel. It was less sweet than the Hellyers – which suited me fine.

The mania of Tasmania continued over the next few days. We crammed in as much sights and sounds as we could manage before rushing back in the dark to the warm delights of Hobart.

One of the crowning glories of our time in Tasmania – outside of the fabulous whiskies – were the wonderful breakfasts at The Customs House Hotel. These set the benchmark for the rest of our trip which was only matched by a hearty brunch in an eaterie up the wonderful laneway that is Centre Place in Melbourne.

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Breakfast at Customs House Hotel c/othewhiskeynut

When part of your itinerary  is tasting Tassie whisky – you need something substantial to set yourself up – and a good solid breakfast certainly starts the day off on the right path!

Oh to be back in Hobart.

Slainte.

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