Based in Hobart in a double storey factory which was originally designed to process food, proved ideal for conversion into a distillery. The three large cool stores, one with side freezers are ideal for produce storage. The two storey high central open area and mezzanine floor areas are well suited for maturation cask elevated racking. These ensure that our spirits receive the necessary variations in local climate temperature, humidity and air exposure.
Our water jacket temperature controlled stainless steel fermentation vessels and mash mixing tun, allow us to optimise grain and root vegetable flavours in our distilled products.
For our flavoured spirits, we use an 1800 litre Tasmanian made copper pot still built by Peter Bailly, of Knapp Lewer Contracting Pty Ltd. Peter is an Australian industry acclaimed master still maker. Spirits from Peter’s stills have won several international awards.
Our neutral tasting spirits, such as vodka, are distilled in our 380 Litre column still. This has 6 copper bubble cap vertical sections above the boiler. These purify and concentrate alcohol condensate as the vapour rises then falls as liquid, after being partially cooled by an upper in-column intermediate condenser, known as a dephlegmator. This process is known as refluxing. The final vapour passing through the dephlegmator, is then cooled back to a liquid in another condenser and collected.
We use only the finest agricultural produce and pure water to make our fermentation wash. It is first necessary to dissolve the starch or sugars within this produce. This is done by first coarsely grinding (gristing) the grain for our whisky styles or for vodka production we mash cooked potato. This starch is then dissolved with carefully regulated hot water. The soluble starch is then converted to sugar by the natural enzymes present in Tasmanian grown malted grain. It is this grain sugar that feeds the yeast, which then converts it to alcohol. Depending on the end product, the washes can be fermented with 100% malted barley as in our smooth Tasmanian Malt, or as low as 20% in our delightful liqueurs.
The fermentation process is exothermic at the start. Our large capacity heat pump controls first the cooling then the heating via the tank’s water jacket. This maintains an even regulated temperature in the fermenting wash, which ensures consistent results.
The pot distillation process begins by carefully decanting the yeast sediment and residual grain particles out of the wash, before it enters the still boiler. We find that these can char on the heated boiler surfaces and they can produce off-flavours.
Then with carefully controlled heating, we gently evaporate the products of fermentation from the wash. These vapours are then exposed to the copper surfaces in the upper regions of the boiler and the overhead lyne arm, which connects the boiler to the condenser. The copper surfaces remove many of the sulphides, which are detrimental to the final taste. This distillation stage is called extracting the “low wines”.
The low wines are next re-distilled in what is known as the spirit run. There are 4 main stages associated with the condensed liquid ensuing from the still during this run. The first is a relatively low volume of fore-shots, which are discarded because they contain poisonous substances such as methanol and acetone. Next are the “heads”, that contain strong and acrid tasting elements and are put aside. Following the heads come the smooth and sweet tasting “hearts”, which are retained. These are followed by the tails, which contain considerable flavour but initially are strong and sharp tasting. Both the heads and the tails contain some flavour and ethyl alcohol, so they are added to the next spirit production run.
The spirit run is heated very gently and judicious testing of the stages of distillation are carried out to separate the 4 stages of distillation. This enables us to separate the heads and tails from the central sweet and smooth tasting hearts of the run. Our master distiller is trained to recognise these subtle changes in the taste profile, so that only the best flavours are retained.
The 380 litre column still is used for our pure unflavoured spirit, produced with one distillation pass only. This high alcohol content spirit receives the same judicious steps mentioned above to separate out the “hearts”. Flavours can be later added to this pure spirit by infusion or dilution. It can even be used to preserve our fresh berry and stone fruit, the process of which has been patented.