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Food and beverage stories

‘Tasting’ a whisky world record

Edition 201_SteveKons

A treat is on the way for connoisseurs of the golden tipple, with the world’s largest whisky tasting room planned for Tasmania’s north west.

A collection of at least 1,500 whiskies from across the globe – all available for sampling – will be the centrepiece of The Tasmanian Ikon Distillery, an exciting new tourism venture being developed in one of Burnie’s landmark Art Deco buildings.

It’s the brainchild of Burnie Mayor, Steve Kons.

He points out that Burnie will then claim the Guinness Book of World Records, currently being held by the Hotel Skansen in Sweden, who have 1,179 whiskies on offer.

“We will definitely be smashing that record,” Kons says.

“I have had a few comments with people saying they have been to Scotland and went to a place where they had 3,000 whiskies.

“And, I tell them the big difference is that, with ours, you will actually be able to sample our 1,500 whiskies, they are not just on the shelf.”

The Tasmanian Ikon Distillery – which aims to open in January 2020– is being installed in the former Associated Pulp and Paper Mill [APPM] Service Building.

And, along with its world-record whisky offering, it will also be showcasing the finest from our island, with a special ‘Tasmania Room’ featuring the most extensive collection of local artisan spirits.

Tasmanian gins and vodkas will sit alongside our whiskies, and Kons estimates the room would encompass up to 1,000 lines of product for sale.

This $3 million development will also have a working distillery where visitors are treated to a bird's eye view of the production process via a walkway suspended above the distillery. A craft beer brewery is planned for a later stage.

“Our plan is you have to walk straight through the middle of this facility, and when you reach the stills there will be things happening all around you – underneath you on your left and on your right,” Kons explains.

“It’s like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, you walk through a door and there is something unexpected happening.

“It’s an exceptional product, in a place you would never expect it to be.”

Kons bought the old APPM service building – which housed the company dentist, gym, canteen and ballroom – four years ago.

It dates back to 1944, and Kons is excited that his plan provides for “a great reuse of a building full of history”.

This is also another sign of a resurgent Burnie, as the city continues to re-invent itself after the closure in 2010 of APPM, which was the heart and soul of this north west community.

“The paper mill used to provide everything for everyone. We are in the process now of people having to do things for themselves rather than rely on a larger employer,” Kons says.

As Burnie looks to the future, tourism is becoming one of the key economic drivers for this region that is situated on a beautiful stretch of the Bass Strait coastline.

And, Kons has no doubt that his Tasmanian Ikon Distillery will become one on the biggest attractions in Tasmania’s north west.

Another reason for visitors stepping off the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport, to “turn right”.

“The fact we have the other distillery in town [Hellyers] creates enough interest for people to overnight in Burnie,” Kons explains.

Kons is well equipped for the task and has a wealth of experience dating back to 1989, with his purchase of the local Farmers supermarket.

Kons is now one of the city’s largest commercial developers, specialising in the renovation of large-scale heritage buildings such as his popular Ikon Hotel.

He is also a community leader, who has represented Braddon in Tasmania’s House of Assembly and is currently serving his third stint as Burnie Mayor.

But it is this latest project that excites him the most, as he enthusiastically tells us: “The Tasmanian Ikon Distillery is a magnificent proposal."

Image courtesy of Grant Wells Photo

11 December 2018, Edition 201

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