Our annual pilgrimage to the Hop harvest in Tassie is about honouring quality ingredients, appreciating those who grow or work with them, and championing their effect on the finished product…
Whilst we are a brewery, and beer is our thing, each year while in Tassie the Tour of the Galaxy crew takes time to explore other crafts – those with an equal passion for handcrafted practice and quality ingredients…
Year after year we are drawn back to our old friends at Lark Distillery – the home of Tasmanian single malt whiskey. Established in 1992 by the ‘godfather’ of Australian whiskey, Bill Lark, the distillery continues to use only the purest Tasmanian ingredients and traditional, time-honoured methods to produce prized whiskies…
This year’s Tour of the Galaxy crew including Stone & Wood Head Brewer, Caolan Vaughn toured Lark’s Cambridge site led by Toni and Head-Distiller, Chris. The team exchanged stories of their crafts, learning about each other’s similarities and differences, celebrating wins, and of course, trying a few of Lark’s finest!
We sat down for a chat with Chris and talked about his passion, Tasmania’s perfect climate for producing whisky, the 150 year ban on craft distillation, and the synchronicity between brewing and distilling.
Talk us through how your interest in distilling came about?
I really fell into the distillation industry. I was at Uni doing a science degree and got a job on the Lark Distillery bottling line. It didn’t take long for me to start brewing and distilling and I just fell in love with the industry, the company and the whisky making process. It’s been 10 years since I started, and I’m still so excited to get to work and make whisky.
Are you born and bred Tasmanian?
I’ve been here for 23 years of my 31 years…almost local.
Why is Tasmania’s unique climate the perfect conditions for whisky?
There are really two answers to this question. The first one is that Tasmania climate is a perfect for the dynamic maturation of whisky. We have constant temperature and pressure swings that force the whisky into and out of the casks wood, resulting in big flavoured whiskies. The second reason is that in Tasmania we have a fantastic culture of helping each other, whether it be the wine, beer, cider or distilling industries we all hang out and share knowledge.
What stopped people from producing whisky in Tasmania?
Craft distillation was outlawed in Tasmania in 1839 and remained that way until Lark Distillery founder and godfather to the Australian whisky industry Bill Lark had the laws changed to start Lark Distillery in 1992.
Describe the importance of hand made copper stills?
We are so lucky to have master craftsman and Still maker Peter Bailey living in Hobart, hand making amazing Stills. Our Stills are 100% copper, which helps to remove sulphur notes that aren’t desirable in whisky.
Do you have a favourite stage of the process…Ageing the cask? Pouring the first glass?
Well you can’t go past sampling a few whiskies! But overall, I do have a real passion for fermentation and in particular sour secondary wild fermentation.
Where is your favourite place to enjoy a whisky and why?
It’s not really a place, but the answer is with friends! Whisky always tastes best when shared with good people!!!
A heads up…last year our friends from Lark Distillery may have loaned us a few sneaky barrels for one of our most exclusive limited releases yet. The barrels aren’t quite ready to be cracked yet…for that to happen it’ll need to be the thick of winter, where darker brews are required to keep the cold at bay.