Toast to spirit of renewal

Karolin Macgregor

One of Tasmania’s most interesting historic buildings has been combined with the state’s newest industry to create a unique agritourism business.

Historic Dysart House sits on the main street of Kempton andwasoriginally built by former convict William Ellis in 1942. Over the years the building was also used as a coach house and then a finishing school for girls.

Today it is owned by Sydney based businessman John Ibrahim and is now home to the Old Kempton Distillery. The distillery business was originally started by a group of like-minded Tasmanians including Bill Larkin 2012.Back then, it was known as the Redlands Distillery and was situated next to the Salmon Ponds at Plenty. Distillery chief executive officer Martin Turmine said at the time it was the eighth distillery in Tasmania. Originally the focus was on creating top quality single malt whiskey, but now that range has been broadened and include gins and liqueurs.

Mr Turmine said in 2015 the distillery had to find a new home and a couple of new share holders came on board, including whiskey enthusiast Mr Ibrahim, who had recently purchased Dysart House. The distillery was moved there and then and a year later the cellar door opened. Now is also includes a café, which is open seven days a week.

Tourism is also a major focus. “A lot of people like to see behind the scenes and get a bit more of an understanding about how the distilling processes takes place,” he said.
“People really enjoy that behind-the-scenes aspect of seeing the process and talking more about how the products are made with the distiller.”
Despite the cooler weather recently, MrTurmine said tour numbers have remained consistent.
“We can give people access to a heritage listed building,” he said.
The distillery also has a weekly stall at the Salamanca Market which is like a satellite cellar door.

Mr Turmine said Salamanca was a great way to introduce people top their products and many of them ended up visiting the distillery to see where the whiskey is made first hand. Whiskey tourism is gaining popularity and Mr Turmine said the growing number of distilleries is proving attractive particularly to interstate visitors. All the products are made and aged on site in the outbuildings, which include the old coach house stables.

To improve efficiency and increase production, a new distillery building is now under construction on site and is expected to be completed later this year. At the moment the initial whisky wash product is made off site, but Mr Turmine said once the new facility is up and running it will also be made at Kempton.

The distillery uses a double distillationprocess and then the new make spirit isaged ina variety of barrels depending on the required flavour profiles.

“We’ve got a range of whiskeys and we were one of the first to fully mature whisky in an old Pinot Noir barrel,” he said.
“We think it’s a really good extension of the Tassie Pinot story. Tasmania has become very well known for its pinot noir so for us to mature whiskey in that has been one of our more popular ones.” They also use sherry and port barrels.
In Australia spirits have to be aged for a minimum of two years to be called whiskey. Mr Turmine said the maturation time depend on the barrel size.

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