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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.