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Review – The Gin Queen

The latest interview in my ‘Meet the Distiller’ series is William McHenry, Master Distiller of McHenry’s, one of Australia’s most awarded gins. His story is a fascinating one, involving a complete career change, as well as a move interstate, creating a very different life for himself and his family in the process.

William McHenry in front of his still

Bill McHenry – Tasmanian Whisky Distilleries

McHenry and Sons-203Travel2next writer, Christina Pfeiffer recently interviewed me about McHenry distillery, our products and other things about Tasmania.

Although Tasmanian distilleries are small compared to others in such places as Ireland and Scotland, we have more distilleries than Ireland and our whisky holds it’s own on the world stage.

McHenry distillery is the southern-most distillery in the Commonwealth and located on the Tasman Peninsular which is rich in colonial history. We are the only distillery in Australia with our own spring water and I am sure the quality of the water is why our products are so good and popular.

The high average rainfall, being located near the sea and a temperate climate, the humidity is relatively high all year round which is ideal for maturing whisky.

The distillery is in its 6th year and we have roughly doubled our turnover each year.

You can find the article here.

A restaurant called Noma

A restaurant called Noma was opened by a young man named René Redzepi back in 2004 in Copenhagen Demark. His restaurant was later awarded ‘The best restaurant in the world’ 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Last year René Redzepi announced that Noma was going to come to Sydney to set up a pop-up restaurant for 10 weeks and bring out of all their team to share the Noma experience. Tickets to the pop-up restaurant sold out in 90 seconds!

Slo GinFor the past six months René and his team have been travelling to all corners of Australia to source the finest native produce, locally produced craft beer, boutique wines and hand crafted artisan spirits.

On the opening of Noma today in Sydney we proudly announce that we represent 4 of the 23 spirits selected along side 8 fellow Aussie distillers represented in the two-Michelin Star restaurant Noma Australia.

The products selected include…

1) McHenry Classic Dry Gin
2) McHenry Progress Release Whisky
3) McHenry PUER
4) McHenry Sloe Berry Eau De Vie (Made especially for Noma)

What an honour…where to from here? Thank you to all of our friends and family for supporting us from the day we began the new chapter of our life in Tasmania at McHenry Distillery.

Top Ten Flavours of Tassie

flavours_of_tassie_554McHenry Distillery is proud to be a part of the Flavours of Tassie program, Spirit of Tasmania is proudly presenting a showcase of gourmet Tasmanian food and beverage producers on board from now through to November. As such, we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the flavours that Tassie is famous for – flavours that make Tassie one of the most exciting, innovative, and highly regarding regions of the world when it comes to gourmet food and beverage production. So, without further ado and in no particular order, here’s our Top Ten Flavours of Tassie, just click the image to the left to see the top ten.!

Make your own gin

Become your own gin distiller at one of Gourmet Traveller’s favourite gin distilleries. Join our exclusive, hands-on 4 hour workshop to discover the skill of gin making using your own recipe and still! Workshop includes a flavour-matched lunch and 500ml, of your own fine spirit, personally labelled to take home.

Workshops are held from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm on Tuesday and Fridays

DSC00559_2Maximum 4 participants

Master distiller Bill McHenry will guide participants through a tasting of well known gins to identify each spirit’s principal flavourings—known as botanicals. Participants can then note their favourite flavours and use them to craft their own gin recipe, and gin, using individual clear stills .. so you can see the process.  Everyone leaves with their own 500ml, personally labeled bottle of gin … and 500ml of McHenry Classic Dry Gin…. to take home.

Gourmet Traveller described McHenry’s Classic Dry Gin in an Australian line-up as “far and away the prettiest, most harmonious and enchanting gin we tasted… makes an amazingly refined G&T”.

A range of Tasmanian botanicals can also be included for use in the gin workshop—perhaps lemon myrtle, saffron and lavender. You can decide…

The workshop includes a guided tour of the distillery and property at Mt Arthur, located close to Port Arthur, and a gin flavour-matched gourmet picnic lunch.

The Workshop can be booked by those wishing to drive themselves, or be escorted on one of Bespoke’s day tours.

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Australia’s Best Gin

“This was far and away the prettiest, most harmonious and enchanting gin we tasted.” According to Luke Ashton when taste Classic Gintesting Australia’s best gins in the Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Luke along with Max Allen, was referring to McHenry’s Classic Dry Gin and both men praised McHenry’s Classic Dry as Australia’s best gin out of a range of 23 different gins.

McHenry’s Classic Dry Gin is an elegant smooth Gin that is re-distilled in the presence of various botanicals such as citrus peel and is balanced with a small amount of star anise, coriander seeds, cardamon and orris root all beautifully balanced with the juniper.

No one botanical dominated the flavour profile, and the overall impression was one of soft aromatic attraction: “Like walking into an old-fashioned candy store,” said Luke and praising the gin as making an amazingly refined G & T.

The Gourmet Traveller review was written by Max Allen and Luke Ashton.

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Sloe Gin Backorder

The repeat last night of an episode of The Gourmet Farmer has brought a number of inquiries for our Classic Sloe Gin.  If you are interested and want to try some of this luscious liquor you will see that the product will go on to back-order when you make an order.  Don’t worry we have plenty in the Distillery gently macerating from last years’ harvest and we will concentrate our efforts on getting this lovely liquor into bottles and out to you (you should only have a wait of a week or two).  William McHenry

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SLOE DOWN

Slo GinSLOE DOWN
Few drinks have almost starved a nation. Gin is one of them. In the 18th century it was so popular that Great Britain nearly ran out of food – all their grain went to the distilleries, not the bakers. Sloe gin is less commonly guzzled, but that’s only because people don’t really know what it is (sloe refers to the berry, not the time it takes to distil). Turns out Tasmania is a fine place to make sloe gin; the fresh water and maritime climate suit Old English distilling, and the place is riddled with sloe berries. Bill McHenry of William McHenry & Sons Distillery made it his home in 2010, moving from pharmaceuticals to the distillery work his ancestors had in their blood six generations ago. McHenry adds the plum-like sloe berries to his classic dry gin, made with orange peel, orris root and star anise. Drink it on its own over crushed ice, mix it with vodka and orange juice, or try as a champagne cocktail. The ‘sloe screw’, they call it. Charming. mchenrydistillery.com.au CH

 

Article from http://www.smithjournal.com.au/

 

 

New distiller has whisky in his genes

The great-great-great-grandson of an Isle of Skye whisky smuggler has become Tasmania’s seventh distiller.

McHenry and Sons-203William McHenry, an executive with a Sydney biotech company, brought his family to Tasmania on a life-changing holiday.

“We all loved everything that Tasmania was: clean; green; open; friendly and with the right community values for raising children,” Mr McHenry said.

“The community cohesion was so different to our own situation where cars, security systems and automatic garages seemed to isolate us from casual contacts with our neighbours.”

After the holiday, Mr McHenry considered his good Celtic name, his ancestral link to whisky and the suitability of the Tasmanian climate for whisky production. Why not become the first to tread that Road Less Travelled in the southern island?

When he began some research he soon found that others had been there before him.

Mr McHenry learned about Bill Lark’s world-best title against Scottish competition in Chicago; Patrick Maguire securing a place on Harrod’s hallowed shelves in London; Tasmanian whiskies achieving Liquid Gold Status in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible; and all the rest.

“That made the decision even easier,” Mr McHenry told The Mercury in a recent interview. “And the other distillers have made it easy since we arrived. It’s a very open, friendly and co-operative group with an attitude that the more distilleries there are, the stronger the industry and the better for everyone.”

So complete was the newcomer’s acceptance that he became a founding member of the Tasmanian Whisky Producers Association.

And so successful was his dive into whisky marketing that he was able to secure third prize in an Australasian Whisky Competition run by World of Whisky for a cask-strength whisky used in his Three Capes single malt brand.

The brand is a private bottling using whisky aged in bourbon barrels at the Tasmania Distillery in Cambridge and cut back using spring water from the McHenry property at the back of Mount Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula.

“My first show and my first award,” Mr McHenry said with justified pride.

McHenrys bought the property after finding it had three springs that gush throughout the year with water that has an ideal mineral composition for quality whisky production.

“At the heart of any good whisky is good water,” Mr McHenry said.

Mr McHenry commissioned Peter Bailey of Knapp-Lewer in Hobart to fabricate a 500-litre pot still that is unlike any other in the State.

“It’s different in that it is a jacketed still,” Mr McHenry explained. “The heating element is in the water jacket rather than in the still.

“This allows me to evenly heat the wash and low wines without exposing them to a fierce heat that might change my flavour profiles.

“Also I have a three-plate column which, when the baffles are closed, allows me to produce premium neutral spirits.”

A start-up business like William McHenry & Sons Distillery must have products it can sell while its whisky is ageing.

The answer in this case is triple-distilled vodka and dry gin.

“But with the baffles open I get a huge amount of reflux which helps to give me the light whisky spirit I am looking for,” Mr McHenry said.

He also markets the prize-winning 10-year-old Three Capes single malt that was distilled and aged by Patrick Maguire at the Tasmanian Distillery in Cambridge.

“Any criticism I hear about Tasmanian whisky relates to lack of consistency,” Mr McHenry said. “Consequently I want to keep my specifications quite narrow and put tight controls on as many of the variables as possible to bring about a consistent product, batch-to-batch, vat-to-vat and year-to-year.”

The still is housed at present in an old weather-board building with spectacular views across the peninsula to the Southern Ocean.

The building will be converted to company headquarters when a larger distilling facility and tasting area have been completed. The Tasman Council has approved Mr McHenry’s building plans.

McHenry & Sons has put down its first malt whiskies to age. Those in smaller barrels will be released at three years of age, while those in larger barrels will be aged for 10 years.

Mr McHenry does not intend to use peat from the central highlands in his production.

“I want to produce a delicate, elegant spirit and broaden whisky’s appeal rather than produce a heavier, more robust peated whisky,” he said.

“The Scots use peat fuel for drying their malted barley and that gives scotch its distinctive flavour.

“I think it’s more authentic for a new-world whisky to be unpeated. It’s all a bit personal really.”

The international kudos flowing to Tasmanian whiskies give Mr McHenry confidence that his lifestyle change and investment will have a mellow outcome.

For more information: www.mchenrydistillery.com.au & http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Uq2KKGSDwkQ

Footnote: The fledgling Tasmanian industry received another big boost in August when Sullivans Cove won a gold medal at the World Whisky Masters in London with its French Oak Cask Single Malt Whisky. The company also collected two silver medals for its American Oak Cask and Double Cask whiskies. Patrick Maguire, Sullivans Cove’s Distiller, said: “We have put some really hard work into making the best whisky that we can over the years, and it is such a good feeling to consistently come out on top on the world stage!”

Sullivans Cove has earned Liquid Gold Awards from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in 2007 and 2010, as well as three gold medals at last year’s World Whisky Masters and “Best Other Single Malt” (for non-Scotches) at the World Whisky Awards in 2007 and 2011.

 

Booze Baron Review

The Booze Baron recently reviewed William McHenry and Son’s Distillery and products.

William McHenry is one of my favourite “dudes” in the Australian distilling scene. A classic corporate escapee who chased a passion and an idea down to what is possibly the best distilling location in all of Tasmania.

Situated on Mount Arthur, right next to Port Arthur, McHenry and Sons Distillery lies at the latitude, altitude and in the general humidity range that is almost a carbon copy of Scottish distilleries. However, unique in Australian distilling, they employ the composite column still for variable distillation.

photo

 

William McHenry and Sons composite column still

This is a brilliant move on Bill’s part as it allows for a very efficient distillation of premium gin and vodka to keep the cash flow up whilst the whisky matures. Most hard and fast whisky distillers spend years making whisky and turn to white spirits only when the cash reserves have run out.

McHenry and Sons Dry Gin, Puer Vodka and traditional Sloe Gin are an absolute knock-out. Honestly, try any of them against the premium imported labels and you’ll join the growing number of people asking Bill why he doesn’t just make Gin and be done with it.

 

At my last three gin masterclasses McHenry and Sons was picked as the best by all but two people, it came second and third for them. That’s 24/26 or 92% of people who I have tasted it with that think it absolutely slams Hendricks, No.3, Tanqueray No.10, Sipsmith and West Winds.

 

It’s not just the white spirits, Three Capes single malt is an astonishing release showing the benefits of long maturation. Soon we will be seeing the first release of whisky distilled on site through that column still and I for one cannot wait!

 

Review kindly written by Nick Rose, owner of Qualia Lounge in Melbourne.

Spirit of Tasmania Tastings

We have been doing some tastings on the Spirit of Tasmania, Tassie’s sea ferry link to the North Island. We had a real buzz on board showing visitors to our beautiful state the marvelous whiskies and premium spirits we make and telling people why we love this place. Have a look at this little video to get into the ‘spirit of Tasmania’

McHenry & Sons Distillery is accredited under the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program

McHenry & Sons Distillery is pleased to announce that it has been accredited under the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program.

T-QUAL is Australia’s newest national symbol of quality and co-branding with the T-QUAL logo, will enables us to show visitors to Tasmania that we are committed to delivering on the quality promise and will help our business stand out above other operators.

Sloe Gin Update

After the recent Gourmet Farmer episode we were flooded with orders for our Classic Sloe Gin and pushing the product into back-order.  The good news is that we checked last week and the next  batch is ready for bottling.  We will start bottling the Sloe Gin this coming week and should be sending out the back-orders later in the week.  Thanks to everyone for your patience and you will be rewarded when you receive your bottle of McHenry Classic Sloe Gin.

Sloe Gin

Last nights episode of Gourmet Farmer has sent a swathe of enquires our way for our Old English Sloe Gin.  For those not in the know Sloe Gin is an traditional English drink that uses Sloe Berries (AKA Blackthorn Berries) macerated in a London Dry Gin to make a versatile liqueur.  For instance Sloe Gin can be drunk on its own as an aperitif,  as a sticky sweet at the end of a meal, as a topping over ice-cream or as a mixer in a cocktail.

The Sloes grow through Tasmania’s rural regions having been introduced by the English over 100 years ago.  They grow in the hedge rows along the road-side and we forage for them in the Autumn and bring them back to the Distillery to use them in our ‘Old English Sloe Gin’.  A word of warning though to the home foragers as you need to be a bit careful if you are thinking of making them yourselves as you don’t want to confuse the Sloe Berries with the other type of berries that grow wild – like Hawthorn for instance.

Batch one was a screaming hit and we sold out within weeks of its release and we have two more batches under production.  At William McHenry & Sons Distillery we tend to prefer a slow maceration and it usually takes us around 4-5 months to develop the deep vivid colour and flavour of a premium Sloe Gin.  We think batch two and three will be ready in a matter of weeks so if you are interested in reserving a bottle send us an email.  Otherwise we will post on the website and Facebook when it is ready we will invite you to come down to our Salamanca stall to try it.

McHenry and Sons Distillery

Think Tasmania Feature

Whether you’re visiting Tasmania or one of the locals, the Think Tasmania website can provide you with stories and pictures showing just how beautiful Tassie can be.

This week they have published an article on the Wm McHenry & Sons Distillery. For a read go to their blog and why not spend some more time having a look through their articles.

Bloody marvelous!