Tasmania’s prevailing winds are westerly and unimpeded by land, as they cross thousands of kilometres of the Southern Ocean. These unsullied winds provide our partially mountainous island State with extremely pure air and rainfall. These attributes and our cool temperate climate allow us to grow extremely good varieties of malting barley.
Devil’s Distillery uses a Tasmanian grown malt barley variety known as Westminster. For our regular and fresh requirement, this barley undergoes early germination at Cargill’s Tasmanian malthouse near Devonport. It is then gently kiln dried at low temperatures to stop further germination and the seed acrospires are removed. This low temperature treatment maximises the percentage of the enzyme amylase, which we later use to convert the seed’s endosperm stored starch to maltose/glucose.
The barley seed in each carefully measured batch is freshly milled in our distillery, then progressive hot water soaks/sparges dissolve the amylase and starch. Whilst the solution is still relatively hot, the amylase then quickly converts the dissolved barley starch solution to maltose and glucose. Once cooled, these sugars provide the food source for our preferred yeast. Our temperature-controlled fermenting vessels then ensure batch to batch uniformity.
After the first production batch of single malt through a Peter Bailly designed and built 1800 litre capacity copper pot still, the introductory taste sampling towards the end of the heads brought back distiller, Brian Hinson, memories of past inferior tipples. Then came the taste change to the more pleasurable hearts, followed by the separation cut of the again poor tasting tails.
After this first batch came the requirement to always reproduce this first batch of “hearts” separation standard. He now maintains that the taste of the malt spirit hearts out of the still’s condenser is fundamental to producing a good whisky, as cask maturation is just a later embellishment!
Our distiller is now traditional with his whisky production, but “avant garde” with the distillery’s other spirits and liqueur recipes. His whisky liqueur “Mellifera” and pure vodka both won gold medals in their category, in the 2018 World Drinks Awards. These awards provide beverage industry acknowledgment of his innovations. However, with the liqueur he freely admits that it was our single malt and the use of Lake Pedder wildflower nectar sourced honey that really made the difference. The other spices and flavour inclusions were just complementary.
Devil’s Distillery’s single malt whisky casks are medium charred American oak ranging in size from 20 litres to 40 litres for our first-year production, then we filled 80 litre and now 100 litre capacity casks. Our finishing casks are mostly European oak, which previously held fortified wines.
Devil’s Distillery has been recognised with a range of awards since production started in 2015.
We look forward to sharing the Hobart Whisky story with you.