WORDS KEN GARGETT
The always impressive Tasmanian whisky distillery, Sullivans Cove, is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. As one of the leaders of an industry that was initially looked on as a curio at best, and folly by many, it is a great achievement.
Sullivans Cove, on the Derwent River in Tasmania (if there were ever a possessive apostrophe, it would seem lost in the mists of time), was originally settled in 1804. Eventually, it became better known by its current name, Hobart. By 1824, there were 16 licenced distilleries operating in this region, and undoubtedly many more which may have been a little less legal – the typical backyard stills. Unfortunately, when John Franklin became Governor in 1838, he put a stop to all distillation, a ban which lasted until 1990.
Finally, in that year, the ban was overturned, thanks to the efforts by another pioneer of the industry, Bill Lark of the Lark Distillery (the Lark Distillery opened its doors in 1992). Sullivans Cove followed in 1994. The early days of Sullivans Cove may have been less than exemplary, but under new ownership in 1999 things turned around. And how!
In 2007, they achieved a ‘Liquid Gold’ ranking from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and also won “Best Other Malt (outside Scotland). They went a step further in 2014, named the ‘Best Single Malt Whisky in the World’ by the World Whiskies Awards. The crowning glory was winning the ‘World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt’ in 2018 and repeating that win in 2019. Head distiller, Patrick Maguire, was the third Australian inducted into the ‘global icons’ of the Whisky Hall of Fame.
There will be a number of releases throughout the year to commemorate their achievements, however, if you felt like raising a glass to celebrate this iconic Aussie distillery’s 25th anniversary, it would be hard to do better than their ‘Double Cask Whisky’ (approx $230). Each release is around 1,100 bottles, so they are limited.
For me, the aroma of the Double Cask was like a cloud of spice, honey and smoke swirling around in gentle waves. Wonderfully complex, it offers a beautifully supple, creamy texture, fine balance and great length. This is a class glass.
We look forward to the next 25 years and many more.