Up & Comers
New methods, indigenous ingredients and redefining ‘dry’ – a brave new world of drinks is here, and Lara Picone gets to know some of the country’s top innovators leading the way.
Hear from the top innovators in our world-class drinks industry.
PERHAPS MORE THAN anywhere, we Australians love to share a drink. And because we so enjoy socialising, a celebratory toast, and the sound of ice against glass, we have an uncommon respect for the arts of winemaking, distilling and brewing.
“It’s very rare anywhere on earth that people have the same cognisance around wine regions and varieties,” says delicious. drinks guru Mike Bennie. It’s little surprise then, that from vine to vat, Australia is a stronghold when it comes to innovation in the drinks industry.
Merrily, in the past three years, there’s been a real swing toward innovation that comes with a healthy pour of do-gooding, from commitment to provenance, land care, indigenous ingredients, and even social responsibility. “We’ve never been more innovative,” says Bennie. “There’s a sense of adventure and general excitement within the industry.”
Here, we speak to five trailblazing labels to keep an eye on – all intent on giving your drinking habits a good stir. Let’s drink to that!
What happens when you achieve your life goal after just two years in its pursuit? When Ryan Hartshorn’s Sheep Whey Vodka won the gong for ‘World’s
Best Vodka’ at the World Vodka Awards in 2018, the self-taught distiller was, understandably, a good deal shocked.
The unexpected victory demanded a new, more formidable ambition. And so Ryan of Hartshorn Distillery in southern Tasmania ( grandvewe.com.au/hartshorndistillery) set to work innovating a whey whisky, again using the bi-product from his family’s cheesery, Grandvewe.
The first iteration of Whey-Sky was never intended to reach the palates of consumers, but Hartshorn decided to release his elementary attempt. “It started as an experiment. Batch One sold out in 24 hours,” he says. “I was stunned.” Seemingly, Hartshorn is on his way to comprehensively smashing through another life goal – remarkable for someone who learnt how to distil from books and chat forums in an attempt to save his family’s business from bankruptcy.
“For the first eight months I was learning how to distil, I was constantly thinking how I could make this distillery relevant to our cheesery,” says Hartshorn. Then he read about whey fermentation. The idea dovetailed perfectly with his plans for the distillery and his family’s commitment to waste reduction and sustainability. “I’m a firm believer that every business needs to take their environmental and social impact seriously,” he says. “It’s our mission to be a positive disruptor in all that we do.”
The Whey-Sky, although not technically a whisky, is a step in the right disruption. The double-distilled whey gives way to maple aromas laced with citrus spice and languishes in sherry barrels for a good three years before bottling, so be prepared to wait for Batch Two.
Ryan Hartshorn in his element; the experimental Whey-Sky; samples (inset); Hartshorn bottles at the cellar door; products of the distilling process. OPPOSITE: Applewood Distillery @grandvewecheeses @hartshorndistillery