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Tasmania’s Stories

Our whisky is world’s best again

Edition 193_SullivansCove

Tasmanian whisky has been named best in the world again – even beating the Scots at their own game.

This liquid gold cask number HH0351 from Sullivans Cove Distillery near Hobart won World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt at the 2018 World Whiskies Awards, in London in March.

Put simply: in the competitive world of whisky there is no global award that is more coveted, more prized, or more highly regarded.

As Sullivans Cove Head Distiller, Patrick Maguire, explained: “This award is like Wimbledon for whisky producers.

“It is the impressive one that everyone wants to win.

“So yes, right now, I can say our whisky is the best in the world.”

When we spoke to Mr Maguire he was straight off the plane from London and still in disbelief that Sullivans Cove had beaten the world’s best whisky producers – including heavyweights from Scotland and Japan.

“It blows my mind that our tiny little distillery at the other end of the world won,” he said.

“The win is obviously wonderful for Sullivans Cove, but just as importantly it is very significant for Tasmania’s whisky industry.

“This will seal the deal for us. Putting the state even more firmly on the map as a serious whisky producer.”

Sullivans Cove is the second oldest whisky distillery in Tasmania – established in 1994 – and the win proves the company is no one-trick pony.

This is the second major global accolade for Sullivans Cove, which also took home World’s Best Single Malt Whisky at the same awards in 2014, a first for any distillery outside Scotland or Japan.

Mr Maguire points out they were “over the moon when we won in 2014, but this latest one even tops that.”

And the secret of cask number HH0351?

One thousand whiskies were blind-tested by a panel of international experts: “I think the judges really enjoyed the fact our whisky has a full-flavoured robust taste,” Mr Maguire said.

“It is very buttery and with a creamy flavour that sits on the tongue and lasts for ages.

“This is all down to the fact that we don’t over process. We make whiskies the slow old-fashioned way.”

Aged in an American Oak ex-bourbon barrel, it took almost 17 years to produce cask HH0351. The whisky was distilled in June 2000 and decanted in January 2017.

There are only 136 bottles.

However, Mr Maguire also said the magic lies in Tasmania itself: the pristine water that flows down from our mountains and the local malted barley that creates spirits that are among the best anywhere.

Mr Maguire is one of the founding fathers of Tasmania’s whisky industry which numbers some 32 distilleries.

He reminisces about days experimenting in the kitchen and ‘making a bit of whisky’ with Bill Lark – who went on to set-up the pioneering Lark Distillery – before there was even any mention of a Tasmanian whisky industry.

“We could never have imagined back then that one day the world would see us as a 'serious' whisky-producing region,” he said.

Meantime, Sullivans Cove may have taken out ‘top gong’ at the London Awards, but there was also a big honour on the night for Burnie based, Hellyers Road Distillery

Long-serving staff member, Sharon Deane, was declared a ‘World Whisky Icon’. Ms Deane who manages the visitor centre told The Advocate: “The award is attributable to the outstanding team we have working for us at Hellyers Road Distillery.”

However, it should also be noted that during the earlier rounds of the World Whiskies Awards there was a strong showing from other Tasmanian distilleries, proving just how 'serious' our local industry has become.

Previous rounds saw accolades for Hellyers Road: a gold medal for Henry’s Legacy Dismal Swamp (Single Cask Single Malt Australian Category), gold also for Slightly Peated (Single Malt Australian No Age) and a silver medal for Master Series Port Cask Matured (Single Cask Single Malt Australian 12 and Under). 

Hobart based Lark Distillery was also the recipient of a prestigious award: a win for Limited Release: Port Cask 1ND30 (Single Cask Single Malt Australian 12 and under). 

As for Sullivans Cove: they also had a win with Double Cask DC087 (Single Malt Australian 13-20) and received a gold medal for Winter Feast 2017 (Single Malt Australian No Age). 

The Old Hobart Distillery, at Blackmans Bay, should also be congratulated for making it into the first round of the awards: a win for Overeem Port Cask (Single Cask Single Malt No Age). 

With such an impressive array of award-winning Tasmanian tipple, even the most fastidious of whisky lovers is surely left spoilt for choice.  

As Patrick Maguire: said “No other drink captures people’s imagination like whisky. That is because it is so complex; every whisky is different and every distillery has its own signature.” 

If you would like to explore Tasmania’s boutique distilleries, meet the makers and taste their ‘signature’ wonderful whiskies, why not follow The Tasmanian Whisky Trail? For more information visit: taswhiskytrail

Image courtesy of Sullivans Cove Distillery

To hear about Tasmania’s previous major wins at the World Whisky Awards watch these videos:

11 April 2018, Edition 193

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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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