The Journey to One of Australia’s Best Whiskies

Where the coast meets country, in the westerly city of Burnie, Tasmania is an unlikely cooperative of dairy farmers producing some of Australia’s best whisky.

In 1997, at a time when the rest of Australia wasn’t concentrating on locally made spirits, the visionary dairy farmers at Betta Milk set about quietly crafting their own premium single malts.

Mark Littler, Master Distiller at Hellyers Road

To be built on the neighbouring fields, the location of their new distillery was perfect – taking advantage of the locally grown barley, cool climate, clean air and pure rainwater driven in from the infamous Bass Straight sea that surrounds the area.

In 1999, the Tasmanian Whisky Proprietary as it was known then, placed its first whisky into barrel. It would be seven years before it would see the bottle, meeting the distillery’s minimum ageing requirement, but when it did in 2006 it was evident they had captured something special. People loved their whisky and in 2010 it was awarded the title of Australia’s Best Whisky.

The distillery’s current name pays tribute to the man that entitled the original name of the road it sits on. The famous explorer and surveyor Henry Hellyer was well known for taking the road less travelled and his emblem on the whiskies is a reminder of the farmers’ patience, tenacity and decision to take a different path.

Hellyers Road has a range of age statement and special cask finished whiskies today. The most popular of all is the Single Malt Original 10 Year, which showcases the distillery’s signature characteristics of vanilla and citrus. Combining the two tales, the distillery has also created a rich whisky cream liqueur, using cream from the dairy business and three to five-year-old whisky from Hellyers.

Visiting Tasmania? Hellyers Road offers a 45-minute distillery tour known as the whisky walk, or for a little extra you can pour and wax-seal a bottle to take home. For something to eat, check out the Distillery Cafe, voted as Burnie’s number one for food and service on Trip Advisor.

Discover more Australian distillers in our special feature on local craft spirits in the Spring edition of explore DRINKS.

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