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The Den of Iniquity of Tin Shed Distilling.

In the world of distillation, there are artisans who elevate the craft to an art form, creating spirits that tantalize the senses and redefine the boundaries of taste. At the helm of this exceptional journey stands Ian Schmidt and Vic Orlow, the visionary masterminds behind the Iniquity Distillery. With a passion for innovation and a commitment to excellence, Ian and Vic have carved a distinct niche in the spirits industry, leaving a trail of award-winning creations in their wake.

Step into the enigmatic world of Iniquity Distillery, tucked away in the vibrant city of Adelaide, South Australia. This is no ordinary distillery that has sprouted up in recent times; rather, it has a rich history dating back over two decades, having previously operated under a different identity.

Today, as part of Tin Shed Distillery, Iniquity has emerged as a prominent player in the whisky landscape, captivating enthusiasts with their delectable and top-tier releases that continually raise the industry's standards.

Iniquity has earned a reputation for crafting exceptional small-batch whiskeys that are in high demand among connoisseurs. These elusive expressions often disappear from shelves within hours of their release, leaving enthusiasts eagerly searching for an opportunity to taste their delights. Patience was a virtue in my quest to savour Iniquity's offerings, and as I finally got my hands on their expressions, I can confidently say that the wait was well worth it, exceeding even my heightened expectations along the way.

A Journey of Discovery

Ian Schmidt's love affair with distillation began as a curious exploration of flavours and aromas. Armed with a deep fascination for the chemistry of spirits, he embarked on a journey to unravel the secrets of crafting exceptional libations. Guided by his relentless pursuit of perfection, Ian honed his skills as a distiller whilst Vic delved into the art of blending.

Through years of experimentation and dedication, the pair developed a keen understanding of the delicate balance between tradition and innovation. This mastery of technique and the unyielding passion for their craft became the driving force behind the birth of Iniquity and Tin Shed Distilling Co.

Tin Shed’s portfolio boasts an impressive range of whiskies and rums that reflect Ian's ingenuity and commitment to quality. Each bottle is a testament to the artistry of distillation, capturing the distinctive flavours of carefully selected grains, molasses and oak.

Case in point: The most recent incarnation of Iniquity Distilling’s much fabled about Gold Series. Delving into the nose, palate, and finish, we uncover the delightful nuances of toffee, caramel, stewed fruits, and oakiness, all masterfully balanced in this South Australian gem.

As we sip, we find boozy soaked fruits, dates, butter, sage, and hints of dark chocolate dancing on the palate.

Finally, the lingering finish leaves us with a toasty warmth, neither too sweet nor too dry.

Innovation and Tradition Harmoniously United

One of Ian Schmidt's most remarkable achievements is his ability to harmoniously unite innovation and tradition in his creations. While honouring time-honoured distillation practices, he fearlessly embraces cutting-edge techniques to push the boundaries of flavour profiles and sensory experiences.

Iniquity's commitment to sustainability is another facet of its innovative and idiosyncratic approach. Conscious of the environmental impact, the distillery endeavours to minimize its carbon footprint by implementing eco-friendly practices and sourcing ethically grown ingredients.

The Spirit of Community

Beyond the spirits themselves, Ian, Vic and Tin Shed Distilling Co embrace the spirit of community and camaraderie. They actively engage with their loyal customer base, fostering a sense of connection and appreciation for the craft. The distillery welcomes enthusiasts to discover the art of distillation through tours, tastings, and educational events, making every visitor feel a part of the Iniquity family.

Needless to say, we did not hesitate when we had the chance to grill the man himself and learn more about Iniquity’s DNA and the distillery’s future ambitions.

Question: How has Tin Shed Distilling Co evolved both as a business and in terms of its products? What transformations and innovations have shaped the journey and to its current direction?

Ian Schmidt: An interesting question. We often say that we make the whiskies we like to drink, and that has always been the case, but it is fair to say that our tastes and ideas of what a good whisky is have changed over the years. Just as our tastes in, and styles of, whisky have evolved to be less oak driven and more subtle, our business has also evolved. Only about 4% of spirit drinkers consume neat single malt whisky and these people are our customers and friends. The remaining 96% have yet to experience the true joy of a well-crafted single malt, neat, or with mixers for that matter and it is part of our mission to help people on their “Journey in Spirit”.

Another significant shift in our business has been the development of the contract distilling side of our business. Many new entrants to the industry have worked out that distilling is merely a small part of the business and that sensible, successful business plans concentrate on spending scarce resources in the right areas. By purchasing either new make spirit, partially or completely matured spirit from Iniquity, they are bringing forward the cashflow of their business by several years and investing in product for sale rather than in capex items on which they will not see a return for many years.

Question: Given your experiences and the fact that you have been shaping the perception and appreciation of whisky on terra australis, when you gaze into your crystal ball, how do you see the future shape up?

Ian Schmidt: Rather well. I see locally produced whisky replacing a fair proportion of imported whisky as the market learns that there is more to good whisky than an age statement and history. The road will have more than its fair share of speed humps. In the middle of the last century Australia was the fourth largest whisky producing country in the world. It can be again.

Question: How do Australian versus Rest of World Whiskies compare?

Ian Schmidt: I can only speak for myself here, but my take on the subject is that Australian whisky generally has stronger flavour than whiskies from the rest of the world, sometimes too strong. Many people complain that Australian whisky is too expensive. Some is for sure, but so are some Scottish and American whiskies, not to mention Japanese! Iniquity is frequently compared with Balvenie 17. Tasted blind the quality and taste are similar and so is the price. The only difference is the age statement on the label!

Question: Tell us about Iniquity’s new Adelaide Hills digs and why we should visit.

Ian Schmidt: Well, it is an imposing, big, black, tin shed perched on a rise overlooking the main street of Nairne in the Adelaide Hills. When you get there, you will find a warm welcome, lots of whisky, rum and gin, and a journey in spirit well worth the short drive up the hill. Next door is a winter only, 9-hole golf course if you fancy some exercise.

Question: What new releases can we hope for?

Ian Schmidt: Apart from our regular releases of core range and Den’s Drams expressions, we are about to release the Talamara, named after the original homestead on the property we source our peat from. We will also be re-releasing our successful summer weight whisky called Lazy Daze. Initially released as a limited-edition Den’s Dram late last year, Lazy Daze was an outstanding success.

Question: Sustainable is no longer about doing less harm but doing more good. As a distillery, how do you put sustainable practices into place and what is your intrinsic motivation behind it?

Ian Schmidt: Distilling is pretty energy intensive. There is a tad more than 4KW of electricity in every bottle from distillation and mashing, then there is all the fuel burnt in raising a crop of barley, malting it and transporting it, plus the carbon embedded in packaging and distributing it. We can only influence the sustainability issues under our direct control. To this end we operate electric stills driven by a couple of hundred solar panels on the roof, recovering waste heat to reduce the energy required for production and utilising waste heat from the production process to heat the building. In an exotic move, we are using waste heat for the underfloor heating of an outdoor concrete deck. Packaging is all recyclable and designed primarily to protect the product rather than enhance its aesthetic appeal.

All these sustainability initiatives are expensive to initiate, so why do it? I think all the warm and fuzzy, feel-good reasons are self-evident. It is quite simply the right thing to do by future generations. There are however very sound economic reasons for embarking on the sustainability journey. The markets, especially the European markets are starting to demand suppliers have some sustainability credentials. In my lifetime I can foresee that it will not be possible to export an unsustainable product. These measures also translate to savings. If that 4KW of energy is provided free from the sun then we have reduced the cost of goods sold by $1.60 and that is a great outcome.


Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of Iniquity Distilling.


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