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The Derwent Distillery Malt Spirit | Image: The Derwent Distillery

Derwent Distillery Releases Aussie Malt Spirit 200 Years in the Making

Australia has a rich, if not slightly contentious, history of alcohol production, but when it comes to whisky, we’re a far cry from our Northern Hemisphere neighbours. While local icons Sullivan’s Cove and Lark Distilling Co. are widely lauded for bringing the traditional practice to Australia, another Tasmania distillery is laying claim to a much older pedigree. Hobart-based Derwent Distillery has just unveiled a new malt spirit that harks back to its humble beginnings, some 200 years ago.

An incredible snapshot in time, a lithograph of the original Derwent Distillery on the banks of the Hobart Rivulet in what was then known as Van Diemens Land | Image: Instagram
A lithograph of the original Derwent Distillery on the banks of the Hobart Rivulet in what was then known as Van Diemens Land | Image: Instagram

According to the current proprietors, Emma and Robbie Gilligan, The Derwent Distillery was first established on the banks of the Hobart Rivulet way back in 1823. Founded by Irish immigrant Rowland Walpole Loane, the unique venue was one of the nation’s first true distilling sites and while it may have changed address since then, Loane’s colourful legacy lives on.

“Not well-liked, Loane was quite the wheeler-dealer,” current co-owner Emma Gilligan said. “But a fascinating character nonetheless, and an important historical figure in Tasmania’s whisky industry.”

Image: The Derwent Distillery
Image: The Derwent Distillery

Since taking control of the historic label in 2016, Emma and Robbie have moved production to the banks of its namesake, the Derwent River, at a new cellar door. For 2023, the 200th anniversary of The Derwent Distillery’s inception, the pair have rustled up something special, unveiling a limited-edition malt spirit reminiscent of Loane’s original drams. According to Emma, the new Malt Spirit, Derwent’s first from its new home in Dromedary, is from an 18-month-old tawny port cask and arrives rich, viscous and very more-ish.

“We have always been fascinated with the early history of distilling in Tasmania, which kicked off in 1822. So, when we were ready to start our distillery, we wanted to acknowledge this history,” Gilligan said. “In a nod to Loane and the spirit that he produced, which wasn’t aged in oak casks, we have launched an unaged malt spirit as a special release to mark the brand’s 200th anniversary.

The limited-release unaged spirit will be available from the 15th of December at the new Derwent Distillery Cellar door at 715 Boyer Road, Dromedary, which is open Wednesday to Saturday.

The Derwent Distillery Malt Spirit | Image: The Derwent Distillery
The Derwent Distillery Malt Spirit | Image: The Derwent Distillery

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Nick Hall
Editor-in-Chief

Nick Hall

Nick Hall is an award-winning journalist and the current Editor-in-Chief of Man of Many. With an extensive background in the media industry, he specialises in feature writing, lifestyle and entertainment content. Nick is a former Mumbrella Publish Awards ‘Editor of the Year’ and B&T's ‘Best of the Best – Journalist’ category winner.

Prior to working at the men’s lifestyle publication, Nick spent two years as a journalist with Inside Franchise Business, focusing on small business, finance and legal reporting.