Willie Smith's launches new distillery experience

Learn about the French art of cider distilling

Media release
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Willie Smith's still with barrels at the apple shed

Willie Smith's still with barrels at the apple shed

The Apple Shed - Home of Willie Smiths
Willie Smiths Distillery Tour
Willie Smith's Organic Cider - Andrew and Ian Smith

With its sensuous curves gleaming in polished copper, the traditional Charentais alembic still in the distillery room at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed is an impressive sight. Even better are the luscious, intensely-flavoured apple based spirits that the still produces. These are aged, crafted and blended to create Charles Oates Fine Apple Brandy and Charles Oates Apple Blanco.

Willie Smith’s is now offering small-group guided tours of the distillery, led by Dr Tim Jones, Head Cider Maker and Distiller at Willie Smith’s.

“Our still is based on the 16th century stills made in the Charente region of France, the home of cognac,” Tim says. “But although it’s a traditional design, the still was hand-built in Tasmania by local master craftsmen Peter Bailly. It is a beautiful object in its own right and we are very excited about the high quality of the spirits coming from it. Distilling is an art as well as a science and I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with visitors on the new tours.”

Guiding a maximum of 10 people on the 1.5-hour tour, Willie Smith's Distiller will explain the French art of cider distillation using the Charentais still, which is the only one of its kind in Australia.  Tastings of Charles Oates spirits will be matched with tasting platters designed by Willie Smith’s Apple Shed head chef, John Molina.

The spirit of innovation is an important part of the heritage and culture of Willie Smith’s. Andrew Smith is the fourth generation of Smith family orchardists to grow and harvest apples at the same location in the Huon Valley.

“The family story began with William and Elsie Smith, who planted their orchard here at Grove in 1888,” Andrew says. “Elsie’s father was Charles Oates and we’re proud to acknowledge this Huon Valley pioneer by naming our apple brandy in his honour.”

Andrew’s grandfather Ron and father Ian continued the family’s tradition of innovation. Ron established a successful international export trade, shipping apples around the world. Ian had to rebuild the business twice – first when Tasmania’s devastating 1967 bushfires destroyed the packing sheds and later, when the Tasmanian export trade collapsed after Britain joined the European Common Market. Ian built modern cool stores and developed new markets in Asia.

Ian’s son Andrew travelled the world in his early 20s, meeting orchardists in Europe and the USA and returning with innovative plans for intensive planting and organic growing. These techniques have become the hallmark of production at Willie Smith’s today. 

Full details and bookings for the new Distillery Experience can be found at www.williesmiths.com.au/tours



  • Huon and Channel (TAS)

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November 08th, 2017
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