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Tasmania’s Stories

Lawrenny infuses spirits with place

Edition 191_Lawrenny

Colonial built heritage is proving a potent marketing asset for Tasmanian single-malt whisky producers.

Shene Estate at Pontville and Redlands Estate in Kempton have successfully tested the idea, but the Mace family at Ouse has given it new scale.

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

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

Brand Tasmania

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