Sullivans Cove head distiller Patrick Maguire, one of the 'founding fathers' of Tasmania's whisky industry, we took a trip out to local brewery Moo Brew. There we learned from brewer Rowl about the brewing process and how the 'wash' is made, from the supply of quality malted barley, through milling, mashing and fermenting. In the past, Moo Brew has supplied several of Tasmania's best whisky makers with their wash, although at present they are concentrating on other things, such as an exciting whisky barrel aged stout that we were lucky enough to taste.
The following morning we were out at Nonesuch Distillery, a boutique Tasmanian distiller of small batch spirits, primarily gin and now whisky. Owner and distiller Rex is truly passionate about his product - and you have to be - as he said, there's no point making gin you don't want to drink. It was great to see a smaller, newer distillery in operation and the solutions Rex has come up with to a wide range of challenges. Everyone I've met in the industry so far (I'm sure there are exceptions) is so supportive of others wanting to follow them. Our group asked lots of questions, and even the cheeky ones (a gin maker's recipe is always a secret) were answered with expertise, experience and good humour. The spirit of coopetition is alive and well in Tasmania's distilling industry. I took home a delicious sloe gin as well as some classic Nonesuch Dry Gin. Now I need to rearrange the 'drinks cabinet' to fit them in - not a bad problem to have.