Tasmania has long been recognized for its wines and beers. But until now, the outside world has known little about this island’s single-malt whiskies. That was because, before Bill Lark opened Lark Distillery in 1992 in Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart, whisky had not been produced here, in Australia’s southernmost state, for more than 150 years. Plus, initially, Lark was not making enough whisky to export. But now, these Tazzie single malts are available in America for the first time, initially in California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Minnesota, and gradually expanding from there.
Made with Tasmanian-grown Franklin barley, which is malted and then dried with peat from Brown Marsh Bog, and using water from the highlands of Mount Field National Park, these malt whiskies are single-cask, double pot distilled, and non-chill filtered. Under the guiding hand of the master distiller—Bill’s daughter, Kristy—the whiskies are aged from three to eight years in small “quarter casks,” which provide more liquid contact with the wood and thus accelerate the aging process.
Currently, three single malts are imported into the United States. Lark Single Cask ($150), at 86 proof, is a sweet, honeyed floral whisky with a hint of Speyside characteristics; Lark Distillers Selection ($180) comes in at 92 proof and is more robust, with sherry notes intermingling with oak, honey, and toffee; and Lark Cask Strength ($220) clocks in at 116 proof, with heavy tones of cedar, citrus, butterscotch, and marzipan, all held together by a surprising smoothness in spite of its higher alcohol content.
Indeed, for the malt whisky aficionado looking for one-upmanship among his fellow connoisseurs, here is the perfect pour from Down Under. (www.larkdistillery.com.au)