About Belgrove Rye Whisky from Belgrove Distillery in Tasmania »
An extract from The Australian Spirits Guide by Luke McCarthy
Contributed articles and stories
The Australian Spirits Guide by Luke McCarthy takes you around 51 of Australia's stand-out distilleries to unearth 60 of the best spirits. Each one has its own history and passion as well as tasting notes, serving and cocktail suggestions.
In this extract we travel to the island state of Tasmania and meet a very resourceful farmer turner distiller, Peter Bignell of Belgrove Distillery, who happens to be a personal friend of the VisitVineyards' founders.
Belgrove Rye Whisky began life as a windbreak for strawberries. When Peter Bignell grew a bumper crop from a field of rye (planted to act as that windbreak), the Tasmanian farmer, ice sculptor and biofuel expert decided to make the world’s only paddock-to-bottle 100 per cent rye whisky.
No still? No problem. The ever-resourceful Bignell collected some unused copper from a neighbour’s property and just built one himself. And so began the story of the Belgrove Distillery, considered by many to be the world’s greenest.
Bignell now produces a range of unorthodox spirits, from distilled ginger beer to a coffee liqueur that uses rye and grappa as its base.
But it was rye whisky that started it all, and his Belgrove White Rye, the pungent un-aged rye that is the foundation of this matured whisky, is still the flagship expression in his range (for a detailed rundown of Bignell’s process, see pages 224-227).
To power the still that makes these spirits, Bignell collects spent chip-oil from local cafés and service stations and converts it into biodiesel. The malting, fermentation and barrel-aging of Bignell’s spirits happens on-site with recycled materials wherever possible – his malting drum is a repurposed laundromat dryer, to give you an idea of how creative Bignell gets.
The whole operation is so innovative and progressive that Bignell and his rye whisky have now featured in the world’s most prestigious drinks publications, and distilleries from all over the world are taking note of this Tasmanian pioneer’s remarkable approach to the production of whisky.
To taste: White pepper, smoke, ginger and agrainy, vegetal character on the nose. Prickly up front on the palate, pepper again, creamy, molasses. Long finish, mild tannin, spice and a grassy honey character.
Best served: Fascinating neat, or refreshing mixed with a quality ginger ale. Makes a spicy, robust Manhattan.
Distillery location: 3121 Midland Highway, Kempton, TAS
Cellar door: By appointment.
Price range: $$$$
The Australian Spirits Guide by Luke McCarthy is published by Hardie Grant (Melb, Vic, Oct 2016; HB, 240pp). This extract is reproduced with the kind permission of the publishers.
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