Redlands Distillery. I visited Redlands at an interesting time. Just recently in 2015, the majority shareholders and original investors of Redlands welcomed new board members and moved to a new location. They are still setting up this new location and facility to be exactly how they want in Kempton, Tasmania. I was told by a friend to arrive at 9AM and ask for either Robbie or Emma. Robbie happens to be from Scotland and is actually a Scot from Glasgow that I understood! Emma and Robbie are the brand managers for Redlands and are helping to launch not only the product to market, but are also heavily invested in the set-up of the distillery. Dean is the current master distiller and you will hear his name quite a bit around the Tasmanian whisky business. He apparently has quite a nose and is considered one of the best distillers by many of his peers. They have a beautiful visitor’s center and a vast plot of land where they are growing barley as we speak. This is not only a beautiful property, but also the home of the Dysart building which was a rest stop or coach house for travelers going between Hobart and Launceston. It was built in 1843 and holds a very rich history for the early settlers of Tasmania. It now serves as the visitor and tasting center.
There are six shareholders or board members that have taken the reigns for Redlands. All are either Tasmanian or Australian. There are big plans in the works for Redlands, but the ambiance and historical part is already taken care of. You can see barley growing in the field right now just beyond the Dysart House and it will be harvested soon. This is the beginning of their very specific process that needs to be done for “Paddock - to - Bottle” to be on their label. Please note that at the moment they are not truly achieving Paddock - To - Bottle. We don’t have this term in the states, but the rules go well beyond “Bottle - in - Bond” and even single malt. The term literally meaning all grains are produced on site, then malted, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled all on this one property. Pretty impressive, but this also means Redlands is definitely positioning itself to be a premium brand. As they settle in to their new location, a few steps of the process are being outsourced. Malting is one of these, but they do plan to have a malting floor emulating the Scottish style. Due to the transition into the new facility they are currently bringing in wash to be distilled (fermentation or the beer making is done by a partner). They bring in wash typically from Moo Brew Brewery. They do have their one classic pot still on site for the wash runs along with a brandy like still for the spirit runs. As you can see the spirit still has the condenser inside the top of the still. That’s actually where we saw Dean. He was making the cut for the hearts on that spirit run of the day. The stills were manufactured by Peter Bailey like many other Tasmanian stills. As we speak Peter Bailey is working on their two new pot stills. These will include a 2,000 liter wash still and an 800 liter spirit still. I tried to help with the cut for the new make spirit while I was there, but I still have a lot to learn. I thought the feints still smelled good! Good thing Dean made the cut without my input of course. I tried the new make spirit and it was very rich and malty. A lot of vanilla liqueur, raisins, ripe apples and caramel.
All of their releases at the moment are single cask. Meaning that they are nosing and tasting casks as they come to age and once a certain cask is deemed ready, they bottle everything from that one cask and that is the end of the release. This is how a lot of smaller distilleries will release their first bottlings because they don’t have enough ready/aged spirit to blend multiple casks together. This is the ultimate whisky collectors dream, because then you have batches and bottle numbers to gather. Each cask is going to taste different. This is especially true if it is a 20 liter cask release which means you are only getting about 40 bottles. As far as I recall, Robbie said only 14 barrels have actually been bottled and released under the Redlands name. Most of these were 20 liter casks and a handful were 100 liters. All were sold at 46% ABV. I’ve already talked a bit about size, but they are also using a range of cask types. They have Tokay barrels (fortified wine), Tasmanian Pinot Noir and many other European Oaks. The casks are currently aging in the stables of the old barn house. They are working on approving new bond houses to be built on site within the next few weeks. Their main release, the Paddock- To – Bottle, is aged all in French Oak. Here are my tasting notes:
Redlands Paddock- To- Bottle Cask #13
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Honey, a Clynelish like waxiness.
Palate: Brown sugar, plums, rich malt and honey finish.
You could tell that Robbie was not only helping in setting up the brand and the distillery, but was also running the numbers. He had a few great figures that put quantity into perspective that I wanted to share. For example a harvest of one hectare (about 2.5 acres) of barley will give you about four tons of barley. Once these four tons of barley are milled and run through the full fermentation and distillation process you can fill about 12-13 barrels of new make spirit. He also discussed with me the ratio and time difference of aging between each size liter cask. The ratio is about 3:1 for how many years a 20 liter barrel needs to age a quality new make spirit to what a 100 liter barrel would need. It’s all about the wood to spirit ratio. It was a great day and I am excited to see how Redlands, its investors and all of the brand managers like Robbie grow the label and name. The quality is already there, I am just not sure if I will ever be able to afford my own bottle!