Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Converted goes to Australia's Lark Distillery

To get to our rental cottage just outside of Cambridge, in Tasmania, we had to drive past the Lark Distillery. I wish I could tell you it was a romantic building situated in a grain field and next to a peat bog. Unfortunately it was a big blue shed in a grassy field! A field surrounded by vines, but nonetheless it felt odd as whisky isn't made from grapes.

You can't visit the distillery so the next day we went to the Lark Whisky Bar in Hobart for a taste!

The whisky bar is located in central Hobart next to the main wharfs. The 'bar' isn't quite sure what it wants to be. Part museum, there is an old whisky still and a small display about whisky making. Part shop, there is a large selection of Lark products which includes vodka, gin, brandy and rum as well as whisky.

It's also a bar. There is a decent range of scotch whiskies as well as Tassie rival Sullivan's Cove on offer. However, it's not the most impressive whisky selection you'll ever see. Beer, wine and other spirits can also be had.

You can taste their whisky at $3 per glass or four whiskies for $10. (The other Lark spirits can be tasted at $1 a go.)

We went for four whiskies for $10. I wish I could tell you it was a fantastic experience, but I'd be lying! I was asking the lady conducting our tasting about the barrels they use, how long they age their whiskies for, the difference between their products etc.... It wasn't quite as bad as talking to a brick wall, but it wasn't a lot better!

All I did manage to learn was that their whiskies are five to seven years old. They import all their bottles and majority of their barrels from France. They primarily use port casks, some bourbon and have recently secured a 'secret' source in NSW.

The first whisky to taste was the Lark Single Malt Whisky, 43%, a single cask whisky. Even though you are paying you get such a small measure it's difficult to determine the flavour. Two sips and it was gone! Light straw in colour it definitely isn't a complex whisky.

Lost on me, but the tasting notes describe spicy plum pudding, liquorice and mixed peel. I didn't detect much peat, which is odd considering Lark have their own peat bog in central Tasmania.

The second whisky was the Lark Single Malt Whisky Distillers Selection, 46%. I asked how the distillers collection was different from the regular single malt, to be told that the distiller particularly likes the flavour profile of the barrel. I couldn't detect any difference in taste, but you can tell that the alcohol content is slightly higher.

The final true whisky in their selection is the Lark Single Malt Whisky Cask Strength, 58%. Just like the first two whiskies it is single barrel. This was my favourite of the three whiskies once you got over the alcoholic shock. It was helped by being cut with a little water. There was a good floral nose.

The final of the four tastings was the Slainté a malt whisky liqueur. Sweet on the nose and in the mouth it was almost sticky. It tasted of candy and light caramel.

It was fun to visit Lark. They've obviously got a passion for whisky, are a small boutique producers and working hard to try and make it financially viable. However, they've got a long way to go before they can start mixing it with the boys from Skye.

The Converted