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Water of Life – Tasmania Rules OK

Taylor & Smith

Every time I get remotely close to the point where I feel like having visited and covered the lion’s share of the great distilleries Tasmania has to offer, a new one pops up on my radar that adds yet another facet to the rich local tapestry of quality distilleries.

Case in point: Taylor and Smith Distilling Co., which started out as a small scale operation five years ago in a converted shed and eventually evolved to become a veritable independent artisan distillery.

Based in Hobart, Taylor and Smith set out to experiment with Tasmanian botanicals and carefully craft their base spirits to synthesise the Tasmanian landscape in a bid to signify a sense of place with water being sourced from a lake of snow melt at Mount Field National Park.

Sounds dreamy?

Well, wait until you have tasted their single cask expressions, which are based on Tasmanian barley being milled, mashed and fermented onsite to then be distilled with direct firing and matured in an array of carefully curated, re-coopered Australian wine casks.

Taking on the idiosyncratic characters of the respective barrels, the whiskies are lightly flocked, i.e. they unfold nuances in the most delicate, buttery of ways.

My first exposure to Taylor & Smith’s range was via the Port Barrel expression, which upon approach tickles the nostrils with aromas of oak wood accentuated by a melange of caramel, raisins and rum, interweaved with highlights on cloves and cinnamon.

What the nose promises in terms of caramel is seamlessly transitioned to the top of the mouth where nougat, plums and red grapes dance against a backdrop of moist, woody notes with highlights of white pepper and herbal nuances shining through.

The elegant finish reverberates nicely with cinnamon and spices, culminating in a crescendo reminiscent of mulled wine.

The Bourbon / Rum cask expression combines the best of both worlds, i.e. honeyed and vanilla characteristics imparted by natural sugars from within the depth of the bourbon drenched wood, as well as vanilla flavours paired with notes of dark toffee, nutty oak and candied citrus.

Lip-smackingly moreish.

On the gin front, Taylor and Smith delivers with its core expression, which is informed by the use of seventeen Tasmanian botanicals, including but not limited to Kunzea, Tasmanian Pepper and hand-harvested Kombo.

The result is an exercise par excellence in terms of an evenly balanced, complex and aromatic gin that serves as a borderline ideal base for a G&T with cucumber.

Four key botanicals, i.e. red grapefruit, Huon Pine needles, abalone shell and sage inform the character of Taylor and Smith’s Dry Gin variant, which is reminiscent of the traditional London dry style, further given depth with a slightly saline, herbal, earthy, dusty sweetness that falls somewhere in the middle of grass and hay, framed by highlights of citrus rounding things out.

What catapults Taylor and Smith into another league, however, is the bespoke reusable display case the first 210 bottles came housed in, which was specifically designed by the multi-disciplinary creative Megan Perkins, adding an aesthetic aspect that was honoured with a highly covered Good Design Award.

I cannot wait to visit Taylor & Smith next time we hold court in Hobart.

Tasmanian Tiger Vodka

Water plays one of the more important roles when it comes to the production of vodka, e.g. when crops are first irrigated to mashing and especially during dilution when the ABV level is being calibrated.

All the better when the water source is of such pure quality that no further filtration or treatment is needed due to the H2O not being polluted and having liquid silk quality not unlike what can be found in remote regions of Van Diemen’s land.

As the name Tasmanian Tiger Vodka suggests, it pays homage to both the turf it is from as well as its characteristic animal life.

Using some of this earthround’s purest water, Tasmanian Tiger Vodka has so far exclusively been available in the US and while I usually prefer whisky to vodka, I feel lucky to have had the chance to sample what is an immensely enjoyable drop to sip on.

Aesthetically, the premium spirit is adorned with a bottle that matches the quality of the product, uniting both design and functionality and thereby aligning with the brand ethos of quality and premium positioning.

Developed not merely as a way to create a quality tipple from the purest water on earth but also as a means to raise awareness and funds for the endangered species that is the Tasmanian Devil, a percentage of the proceeds of each bottle is being used towards conservation initiatives in Tasmania.

I can only hope that the trademark issues that Tasmanian Tiger Vodka is currently dealing with will be resolved soon, as given the quality of the core expression, I cannot wait to experience their small-batch extra-proof Devil’s Edition variant.


images from company websites

T • September 7, 2022

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