Lawrenny infuses spirits with place
Colonial built heritage is proving a potent marketing asset for Tasmanian single-malt whisky producers.
Aviation and tourism entrepreneurs, Mary and Ross Mace, and their pilot son, Cameron, have invested boldly in their historic and beautiful Lawrenny Estate on the banks of the upper Derwent.
Two gleaming copper stills set up within the estate's colonial Dutch barn give the Lawrenny Estate Distilling Company capacity to be a leading supplier of Tasmanian single malt whisky.
The Maces are diversifying the property away from livestock farming and have just brought in their second harvest of barley from the fertile river flats.
The barley is then malted on the estate, making Lawrenny one of the few "estate distillers" in the world.
Distiller, Joe Dinsmoor, started in the industry as a 16-year-old working for Lark Whisky.
"Joe has a lot of skill and knowledge as a 25-year-old, having learned from the best people in the business," Ross Mace said.
"He consolidated his skills interstate and earned peer recognition as well as global awards at Archie Rose Distilling in Sydney.
"He was highly recommended and we were very happy when he joined to become an important member of the Lawrenny team.
"We're confident the whisky Joe produces will rank with Tasmania's finest. And, of course, that means it will be up there with any whisky in the world."
Lawrenny's first single-malt whisky is maturing in fine oak barrels and will be ready for an initial bottling in the next few years.
Meanwhile, the company is producing and marketing two gins, which it promoted at Hobart's Ginuary event last month, and a vodka.
General Manager, Jensen Farley, said: "Our business plan involves selling quality spirits internationally and we are well down the track in negotiations with a distributor in Singapore and have established contacts in other Asian cities.
"In the meantime, we are selling spirits in four Australian States after starting production only in the final few months of last year."
Everybody involved seems happy with Lawrenny's initial offerings.
"This estate is an inspiring place, and our distiller has created spirits that we feel do the location and built heritage full justice," Mr Farley said.
"Joe works with the water that glides past our doorstep, fresh from Lake Saint Clair in the nearby Wilderness World Heritage Area. He uses estate-grown barley and unique yeasts to produce the finest whisky base spirits.
"When juniper and other traditional ingredients are added to selected botanicals that are found on the estate, you create premium gins that reflect Lawrenny and its magnificent Tasmanian location."
The estate has impressive gardens and orchards and its fruit, strawberries, almonds and lime blossoms are infused into the smooth-drinking Van Diemen's Gin.
The navy-strength 1818 Settlers Gin is a more robust style that was created as a tribute to the pioneers who built new lives in the beautiful but unforgiving place that was to become Tasmania.
"We feel the 1818 Settlers Gin reflects the character, persistence and stoicism that was needed to build Lawrenny Estate out of a wilderness," Mr Farley said.
He described it as a drink for gin connoisseurs. It is infused with rosemary from the gardens, as well as caraway, all spice, cassia bark and cardamom.
"This is a stand-out gin that has exceptional nose and palate and is remarkably smooth," Mr Farley said.
The third Lawrenny spirit to make it to market so far is Saint Clair Vodka.
It also benefits from the pristine, filtered river water that originates from nearby Lake Saint Clair, the deepest freshwater lake in Australia, gouged out of the highlands by massive Ice Age glaciers.
Saint Clair Vodka also benefits from local botanicals, including rose, thyme and lemon zest that are distilled in small batches and carefully blended through the vodka spirit.
The Lawrenny team puts enormous value on the reputation of Tasmanian distilling and on the value of the Tasmanian brand.
They look to have set a course that will make them brand champions in their own right.
Footnote: The Mace family acquired Lawrenny Estate in 1992 after they had moved from NSW in the 1980s to invest and work in west coast tourism. In recent years the property has been used for beef production. It was founded in the early 1800s by a dubious colonial entrepreneur, Lieutenant Edward Lord, and was soon regarded as one of the most successful livestock and cropping operations in Van Diemen's Land.
Image courtesy of the Lawrenny Estate Distilling Co
8 February 2018, Edition 191