Australia is the only island continent, the sixth largest country in the world, where 60 per cent of the population huddle around five coastal cities. It is a land of droughts and flooding rains. A landscape of tropical jungles, deserts to snowy alpine mountains, where sugar cane plantations and vineyards are as bountiful as the fields of grain. It should come as no surprise the similar extremes can be found in Australian whisky. These extremes make Australia's whiskies fascinating, diverse and surprising.

Since the microdistilling movement started back in the 1990s, around 50 distilleries have made whisky in Australia. Distilleries here are small and infrequent in their production, which is another Australian whisky quirk, due to financial constraints. The modern industry began in Tasmania in 1992 (Sullivans Cove and Small Concern) and within a few years, new distilleries started to mushroom across the mainland (Smith's 1997, Bakery Hill 1999); now over two thirds of the whisky distilleries are located between the mainland's east and west coasts. Scotland, Ireland and Japan produce malt and grain whiskies. The US is Bourbon plus rye. Australian made whiskies are all of these plus local factors which influence flavour. At present, around 90 per cent is malt whisky; however, that's rapidly changing as over a dozen distilleries have moved into other grains and mash bills in recent years. Western Australian distillers have been the most aggressive with rye, corn, wheat and Bourbon mash bills. Bourbon is a protected geographic indication and so these styles are marketed as American style spirit or sour mash whisky.

Tasmania, which sits off the southeast coast of Australia, has become a Mecca for whisky enthusiasts. This small, fertile island has amazingly clean air, sparkling clear water and excellent local barley. Tasmania is therefore naturally well endowed to make good malt whiskies and distilleries are popping up across the island.
Australia whisky regions


Tasmania is a small, fertile island, about the size of Scotland but with only 10 per cent of the population of the latter. It sits off the southeast coast of Australia and has become a Mecca for malt whisky enthusiasts looking for the latest in distilled perfection. The original colony was awash with whisky with as many as 16 distilleries. Local brewing interests lobbied the Governor on the social advantages of beer over whisky and so whisky distilling was banned in 1839. Thus it remained until one Bill Lark had the prohibition legislation repealed and regulations changed so as to allow distilling to recommence by having the minimum still capacity reduced to a manageable size for craft distilling. And so, 153 years later in 1992, distilling quietly reappeared to satisfy the very personal ambitions of one man who liked his malt whisky and thought it high time he should try making his own. After all, Tasmania has amazingly clean air, sparkling clear water, and excellent local barley, whi
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