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Callington Mill Distillery – a new era of Tasmanian whisky

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

It must have been four years ago in the context of the MONA’s annual Dark Mofo extravaganza as part of a Laphroaig tasting at Hobart’s Evolve Bar that I first met John Ibrahim, who filled me in on his inspired plans to reinvigorate Callington Mill Distillery.

After having started his whisky journey with the purchase of Dysart House in Kempton, which eventually became the home of Old Kempton Distillery, whose excellent emissions we have previously covered as part of this series, his paths crossed with the Tasmanian godfather of whisky and overall trailblazing maverick Bill Lark, triggering an enduring partnership.

Quite a bit of water has gone down Derwent River since then and it was great to see the distillery evolve on an unprecedented scale on terra australis to herald a new era in Tasmanian whisky.

After what has become an immensely successful curated selection of eight releases showcasing the double and triple distillation and maturation processes of the Callington Mill distillery team, released under the moniker Leap Of Faith Series and based on collaborations with a range of Australian whisky distilling legends, I was looking forward to the distillery’s DNA presenting itself via its first own releases.

My first exposure to Callington Mill’s yet to be released trio of own releases was via the Fusion expression: Rusty in appearance courtesy of the ex-fortified Porto and Jerez barrels it has matured in, what tickles the nostrils upon approach is a melange of caramel, plums and orangey nuances.

On the top of the mouth creamy vanilla paves the way for stone fruits, toffee, lemon citrus and cacao to unfold its elegant, velvety magic, before the elongated finish culminates in a crescendo of vanilla custard, which is only further accentuated by cinnamon spicy highlights, proving that “Fusion” is quite a telling name.

Next up was an expression that is essentially an ode to Porto, its legacy and the fortified wines from the Douro Valley region.

Having matured in premium oak barrels, on the nose Invictus’ dark berry fruits lure one in to then dance against a backdrop of honey-like sweetness with a definite hint of figs and soft, jammy texture studded with noticeable traces of nuts and cinnamon.

The chocolatey finish evokes a Pavlovian reaction and leaves one lusting for another dram. A formidable example par excellence for a tour de force in the realm of full-bodied characteristics.

The trio is completed by the El Sol expression, which as per its nomenclature is an homage to the renowned Jerez de la Frontera region, which has become known and esteemed for its Sherry creations.

In terms of aromas, a bouquet of candied peaches and fresh ripe stone fruits blend in with dark chocolate. In the flavour department, brownies, with flavours of fresh fruit, cranola yogurt and key lime cheesecake provide the stage for vanilla custard and caramelized sugar to shine on.

The lingering finish informed by roasted coffee beans and delicately bitter, deep chocolate flavours leaves me smacking my lips as I take a sip from the Triple IPA I have chosen to accompany the dram with.

Given the quality of Callington Mill’s ( ) first own releases, all of which are clocking in at 46% ABV, I can only hope that will release cask strength and peated variants in the not so distance future.


Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of Callington Mill Distillery.


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