Tasmania is ideally situated to make malt whisky, and yet 150 years after the last licensed Tasmanian distillery closed its doors, it took a whisky lover to realise the environment was perfect.
Bill Lark realised that that everything you need for a world-class whisky was in Tasmania – rich fields of barley, an abundance of wonderfully pure soft water, highland peat bogs, and the perfect climate to bring all the ingredients together in a marriage of science, art and passion.
The vision of producing Tasmanian malt whisky was born on a trout fishing trip in the highlands of Tasmania. Bill’s father in-law Max produced a wonderful bottle of single malt, and as they enjoyed a drink in the park at Bothwell, surrounded by Georgian buildings, barley fields and the gentle flowing of the Clyde River, Bill remarked to Max, “I wonder why there isn’t anyone making malt whisky in Tasmania?”
It was not long after, Bill’s casual remark had turned into a reality. Within only a few years, Bill had changed the alcohol industry in Australia, re-written distillery law and launch a multi-million dollar business Lark Distillery, which today exports around the globe with huge demand in Australia.
It was 1992 when Bill and his wife, Lyn, decided to make whisky, and legally they required a licence. However, according to the 1901 Distillation Act they had to do so in large volumes.
“So I introduced myself to our local MP Duncan Kerr and told him the problem and he got on the phone to talk to (Federal MP) Barry Jones,” Bill recalls.
Within a few months the archaic law had been amended and Bill and Lyn had their licence – the first distillery in Tasmania since 1839.
Starting out with a small distillery in nearby Richmond in 1997, in 2000 they opened a cellar door at Constitution Dock in Hobart, the same year Bill quit surveying, followed six years later by a 1ha distillery, bond store and brew house in Richmond, where they now feed Scottish highland cattle spent grain and run tours for tourists.
Today the Lark Distillery is one of Australia’s leading distilleries, producing high quality, premium spirits using traditional time honoured methods. The Distillery runs an 1800 litre copper pot still along with a 500 litre spirit still, and produces ten to twelve 100 litre barrels per month. The range of distilled products includes the flagship Single Malt Whisky, Premium Vodka, Gin, and TASI aromatica bush Liqueur.
Bill is now regarded as the grandfather or godfather of Australian whisky and we are pleased to have Bill speak at AuTT Conference.
Distilleries, Distributors, Importers, Get Inspired By Bill At AuTT Conference on 1st September.