Tasmanian Rum Industry Reborn

By Ian Neubauer as appeared in THE SHOUT

The Lark Distillery is soon to release Rum Island, Tasmania’s first commercially produced rum in 169 years.

Made from 100 per cent Australian sugar cane molasses and double distilled in 500 litre copper pot stills, Rum Island is named after an islet on Tasmania’s north eastern Furneaux Group that is the historical site of the 1797 shipwreck of the Sydney Cove.

Lark Distillery sales manager, Ross Dinsmoor, who distilled and barrelled the rum under the expert tuition of Lyn Lark, said the rum-making process was a tedious, costly yet pleasurable experience.

“It takes a good three weeks to slow ferment, which is the key to a smooth rum, and a couple of days to run it through the still twice, and another six to eight weeks to settle out,” he said. “We don’t get affected by the fumes but it all smells lovely, like a rum cake or a Christmas pudding.”

In addition to the first batch of 80 per cent proof ‘rum spirit’, Dinsmoor and Lark also stored a quantity of the final product in specially made 20-litre barrels.

“This is technically our real rum, as under Australian law rum must be aged for at least two years to be called ‘rum’. It’s a lot more expensive to do and we don’t really make money out of it, but in two years we will have an excellent rum.”

Established in 1992, Lark Distillery is the patron of the Australian boutique distilling industry, with founder and general manager Bill Lark credited for pressuring Government to rewrite legislation that has allowed the still-nascent industry to operate under legal — albeit highly restrictive — conditions.

It produces three kinds of whiskeys, a gin, bush liqueur, apple brandy, apple liqueur, apple schnapps, pepperberry vodka and a cherry liqueur made from cherries that are soaked for a year prior to distilling.

The first 200-litre batch of Lark Rum Spirit will be released to a select number of bars and bottle shops later this month. It will retail at around the $55 mark.   

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