What better place to start your whisky wandering than at Lark Distillery? It’s named for Bill Lark, the Godfather of Australian whisky. He knew the island had everything he needed to make world-class whisky – pure soft water, fields of barley, ideal climate conditions and peat bogs. And so he got to work and in doing so created a whisky industry. Visit Lark on Hobart’s waterfront for an acclaimed nip. It’s a relaxed set up that’s not just about Lark, with more than 150 premium whiskies on the shelf. You might be here a while.
From Lark, walk to Brooke Street Pier. Bill McHenry has a stall on the pier, so call in while waiting for the ferry to Mona. Once the ferry arrives, be prepared for anything, starting with a ‘Cattle Class’ ferry ticket complete with sheep as seats. As a whisky lover, enjoying the finer things in life, the Posh Pit might be more fitting.
Spend some hours underground in David Walsh’s wonderland. Then, stay low. In the depths of Mona is a light – that’s the Void Bar. And yes, it has whisky. It also has live music on weekends and some stellar cocktails.
Wander down a few secret corridors and emerge at Faro, Mona’s new restaurant. The ceilings tower 13-metres high, there’s share plates aplenty, black margaritas and, in David style, a pig slicing machine. Now that you’re staying for dinner, you might as well stay in a pavilion onsite.
Some might claim to be the world’s best single malt, but Sullivans Cove has the award to back it up. This small batch whisky is made using only Tasmanian ingredients and traditional methods. Tours of the Cambridge distillery happen on the hour every day from 10am, offering a behind-the-scenes peek at the craft whisky making process.
Head on round the bend to the Coal River Valley. At Coal River Valley Farm watch the chocolate maker at work – he even sings to his creations. Further up there’s family-run Puddleduck Vineyard and elegant Pooley Wines keeping watch over Richmond.
The best way to explore Richmond is on foot, feeling the cobblestones of nineteenth century streets beneath. There’s lots of ‘old’ here including the 1820s convict-built Richmond Bridge, the oldest in Australia. Notice a church on the hill? It is Australia’s oldest Catholic Church (1836), and exploring the cemetery is advised for the curious. Back in the village proper, the Richmond Gaol is also, wait for it, Australia’s oldest. Step into a cell to catch a chilly glimpse of inmate life.
Back on the road, some Triple Cream Brie from the family-owned Wicked Cheese Company will take your mind off the gaol cell. Continue back to the city for drinks at The Story Bar (inside MACq01) followed by dinner at Old Wharf. They have a long table Full Moon Seafood Feast each month. Is MACq01 calling you to stay overnight?
Shene Estate is almost 200 years old. She’s quite breathtaking. Take a Behind the Scenes Tour, always hosted by a family member. Suitably, the tour ends at the cellar door. Their Mackey Cask Two won a Gold Medal at the 2016 International Whisky Competition and their Poltergeist Gin is swiftly becoming a household name. Break up your whisky time with a stop at Bonorong, a wildlife sanctuary and rescue centre, home to loads of native furry mates.
At Kempton, a bit further up the highway, Old Kempton Distillery sits in their newer locale of Dysart House. All handcrafted, Old Kempton offer everything from paddock-to-bottle single malt through to Spiced Schnapps and Lavender Malt, made using handpicked lavender.
Nearby is Belgrove Distillery, where Peter Bignell creates his bio-diesel powered rye whisky. Peter is not just an excellent whisky maker, he also built Belgrove’s copper still with his own hands. His spent mash is fed to the sheep. It’s a closed loop operation of original flair. Australia’s first rye whisky is a must visit.
Tempted to stay longer? Settle in at Ratho Farm in Bothwell tonight for a long-table feast with other guests followed by a single malt in the homestead lounge. Now that’s a way to finish a whisky trail.
Local tip: Book a Drink Tasmania Whisky Tour and your designated driver is sorted.