Taylor & Smith’s first whisky release. Photo – Megan Perkins, Jesse Hunniford
Tasmania’s Taylor & Smith Distilling Co. will soon release their first single malt whiskies, with details of the launch revealed this week.
Based in the Hobart suburb of Moonah, the distillery is run by owners Natalie Smith and Ben Taylor, who’ve been distilling out of a converted shed on their property since 2017.
For this first release, spirit was initially filled into barrel in March 2018. Following that, Natalie and Ben performed a number of gin trials and experiments over several months (often testing them on lucky neighbours) to settle on a precise mix of botanicals and techniques to create their award-winning Taylor & Smith Gin.
Natalie Smith and Ben Taylor – Supplied
The first gin batch was launched via a Pozible campaign in December 2018, and Natalie and Ben have been patiently waiting for their whisky to reach maturity ever since.
‘It’s really exciting… We’re really happy with the whisky – we couldn’t be more pleased,’ Natalie Smith told Oz Whisky Review.
The release is the latest small batch Australian whisky to hail from a home distillery.
The 400 litre copper pot still driving the operation was built by Ben Taylor himself. It’s also direct-fired, a la Belgrove and Black Gate distilleries, with the intense heat on the pot helping to ‘caramelise those sugars in the wash’ Smith told us.
Taylor & Smith Distilling Co. – Supplied
To create Taylor & Smith’s spirit, Tasmanian barley is milled, mashed and fermented onsite, the latter with a unique yeast profile.
A range of casks, all re-coopered in Tasmania, have been filled with spirit, including ex-apera, tawny, Bourbon, pedro ximenez, pinot noir and Australian dessert wine casks.
‘It was always going to be single cask releases initially,’ says Smith.
‘We do plan to blend down the track. But I guess when you’re a new distillery and you’re starting from scratch, you need to find out what sort of new make your barley and your yeast and your water, your combination, is going to create, and then you can see which barrels it responds to best.’
‘We talk to coopers a lot about what they’ve got coming up, and we listen to the story behind the barrels and make decisions based on the information that we get. We try and buy the best barrels we can source from cooperages here in Tassie, because we’ve got quite a bit of choice now.
The first 210 bottles of Taylor & Smith whisky, each coming with a bespoke reusable display case, will be released from seven different single casks.
‘We’ve got a ballot happening at the moment that you can sign up to. We’ve got 210 bottles and we’ll draw 210 names and they’ll get the first opportunity to buy. That happens next week,’ says Smith.
Originally, a large physical event was planned for the launch, but ‘COVID turned that around’.
‘To do it this way with the ballot is still quite nice. It’s still a great way to connect with people.’
The ballot for the first release closes November 1st, and full details are available on Taylor & Smith’s website.