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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Here's Cheers to the Hellyer Road Whisky Tour in Tasmania, Australia

The largest whisky distillery in Australia is located in Burnie, Tasmania. The first cask of Hellyers Road single malt whisky was lovingly filled in 1999. Today, their range of premium whisky and vodka is enjoyed all over the world. They also have the brands Southern Fire and Southern Lights.

At their distillery, visitors can take a one hour behind-the-scenes tour. The whole process is on site here. Emma was the extremely knowledgable tour guide. Her passion for the product was evident, and she is a whisky drinker herself. Emma proudly announced that Hellyer Road had just won the best Australian Single Malt 2021. They were also category winners in 2020 and 2019.

Tasmania has the best water and best climate to age whisky. There are only three ingredients used: barley, yeast and water. Combine 6 tonne of locally grown barley with 33,000 litres of water and you will have 2,500 litres of new make spirit. The process is now on the way. The left over mash is highly nutritious and fed to lucky local cows.

When we saw the distilling room, the smell emanating was very sweet. The tanks were locally made. As with most of their process here, they aim to keep it locally produced in Tasmania.

With a minimum of two years in the cask, the whisky matures in 5-7 years, some age as long as 20 years. Other whisky is aged in French pinot noir casks for 6-12 months. Each aging process and different barrel type results in a different flavour. Their peat whisky is also a customer favourite. The peat infused grains are sent to Tasmania from Inverness, Scotland.

Cream liqueur is also made here in original, coffee and hazelnut flavours. I tasted a small sip and it was delectable. I can imagine sipping it slowly in front of an open fire during winter, or poured over icecream in summer. (Ok, who am I fooling? It would be perfect poured over icecream at any time of the year!)

In the bond room there are over 2,000 casks. Different coloured tops denote different ages and strengths. As the door opened to allow us a look inside, we could smell the delightful aromas from the casks.

Some of the casks are from the Jack Daniels distillery. Jack Daniels only use their charred white oak casks once. The barrels here are in high demand when they are sold, generally around $150 each. They are advertised on the Hellyers Road facebook page.

Visitors were taught how to best drink a whisky (no mixers they said!). You hold the glass in your hand and warm the whisky first. Then smell it, savouring the different scents as the liquor warms. Next, you take a small sip and taste it in your mouth. What are the notes that come through? Vanilla, citrus, pineapple, cinnamon, lavender or honey? Add a drop or two of water, then taste the whisky again. Do you get different notes now? Maybe a buttery caramel?

We were able to choose from two special barrels, an original or a triple distilled. Only on the tour can you purchase these in 500ml bottles after the tasting. Your whisky is poured into the bottle in front of you and wax is then added to seal off the top.

Hellyers Road is named after the explorer Henry Hellyer (1790-1832). Henry came to Australia in 1825 and used his skills as an architect and surveyor to map and make his mark on north-west Tasmania. In 1831 he became the first European to reach the summit of Cradle Mountain.

A statue of Henry and his dog stand in the foyer of the complex and a drawing of Henry and his dog adorns the whisky bottles. No known photograph or actual image of Henry is available.

There is a gift shop on site and a restaurant that overlooks the beautiful Tasmanian landscape. Wooded meadows and grassy green pastures please the eye as you look into the distant hills and cloud filled blue skies. A perfect venue to eat, relax and unwind after an awesome tour.

153 Old Surrey Road, Burnie Tasmania 7320 (this was originally called Hellyer Road)

Happy Travels!

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