A blend of old and new spirits

Explore: Take the time to jump on the Whisky Trail and experience the unique drams for yourself. Pictures: Supplied
Explore: Take the time to jump on the Whisky Trail and experience the unique drams for yourself. Pictures: Supplied

For a long time Tasmania has been known as the Apple Isle, but these days it could just as easily be called the Whisky Isle.

With more than 30 distilleries currently active, Australias Southern-most state is rapidly gaining an international reputation for its high-quality drams.

Whisky making in Tasmania was reborn in the early 1990s after a nearly 160-year prohibition on distilling.

The story goes that while on a fishing trip in the Tassie highlands, Bill Lark had an epiphany that the states climate, water and grain were perfect for whisky making, and made it his mission to get the law changed.

He was successful and kicked off the amber revolution with the opening of Lark Distillery.

Now tourists flock to Tasmania to jump on the well-trodden Whisky Trail in search of a hearty drop from some of the finest boutique distilleries in the world.

The variety of distilleries open to customers is increasing, and each business is as unique as the next with distilleries popping up in barns, historic properties, sheds, aeroplane hangers and even shipping containers.

The best thing about taking a distillery tour in Tasmania is that you'll likely meet the owners and get a chance to uncover their stories and experience their passion as you enjoy sampling their wares.

Tasmanian Whisky Producers Association (TWPA) president Robbie Gilligan believes the community is what makes Tasmania unique when it comes to distilling.

Casked: While its ageing in casks, a portion of the whisky will evaporate each year this is called the angels share.

Casked: While its ageing in casks, a portion of the whisky will evaporate each year this is called the angels share.

"Its the tight-knit nature of the local distilling community that makes Tasmanian whisky so special, Mr Gilligan said.

It has always been a feature of the industry right from the early days, he said.

A lot has changed in the days since Bill Lark produced his first barrels and struggled to sell it to any bar or hotels, and now distilleries are struggling to keep up with local demand.

"People always ask me if I'm worried about saturating the market, " Mr Gilligan said.

"What a lot of people don't realise is that Tasmania's production annually is equivalent to the amount of spirit lost to evaporation in Scotland," he said.

Changing times: From 1938 to 1991, it was illegal to distill whisky in Tasmania. Thats a long time between drinks.

Changing times: From 1938 to 1991, it was illegal to distill whisky in Tasmania. Thats a long time between drinks.

"In fact, many distilleries are struggling to keep up with local demand and have yet to tap into the broader international market.

"It is an exciting time for the entire industry, and I think it's just the beginning."

While Tasmania's whisky has enjoyed incredible success in recent years, its gin is fast becoming a tipple of choice, adding another hero to Tasmania's quality top shelf.

In the last five years, Tassies gin scene has exploded.

Once upon a time gin was a cheap, rough spirit that was consumed for either warmth or numbness, now this clear juniper spirit has made a home for itself especially in our island state.

Gin recipes in Tasmania are hitting the high notes with the addition of native botanicals giving their creations a unique twist.

There are now more than 100 different Tasmanian gins from more than 25 distilleries with many more set to open in the next few years.

Tasmania has come a long way since Bill Larks epiphany at the lakes.

The scene is now thriving, and there has never been a better time to jump on board and discover the whisky and gin the state has to offer.

To plan your Tasmanian distillery trip visit taswhiskytrail.com.