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Killara Distillery | Tasmania

Last Updated: October 22, 2023

Killara Distillery is a small Tasmanian distillery that produces high-quality, hand-crafted gins, small-batch single malt whiskies and other premium spirits. Kristy Booth-Lark established Killara in 2016. It is the first Australian distillery wholly owned and operated by a second-generation Australian distiller and one of the very few distilleries worldwide to be owned and run by a woman. Kristy is the daughter of Bill and Lyn Lark, founders of Lark Distillery and the First Family of Australian whisky.

Killara Distillery is located near the picturesque township of Richmond, just 30 minutes from Hobart, making it an easy day trip for travellers. Visitors to Killara can learn about their distilling process and sample their superb Apothecary gins and Killara whisky.

Killara Distillery is located on 26 acres of land. They intend to plant their own barley for whisky, and grow their own botanicals for the gins.

History of Killara Distillery

Killara Distillery is a family-owned and operated micro-distillery located in Richmond, Tasmania. The distillery was started in 2016 by Kristy Booth-Lark, a second-generation Australian distiller. Kristy's passion is to create handcrafted Tasmanian spirits, including Single Malt Whisky, Apothecary Gin, Brandy, and seasonal liqueurs.

The name Killara is a nod to Kristy's parents, Bill and Lyn Lark, who restarted the whisky industry in Australia in 1992. Killara is the name of the street where Lark was registered, 150 years after the last distillery in Hobart closed its doors and silenced its stills.

Kristy grew up with a still outside her bedroom door. She started working at Lark at an early age, initially at the cellar door, before working through the ranks to become Lark's Head Distiller before Lark was taken over in 2013. Kristy was the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship in 2019, allowing her to travel overseas and further her distilling education; her Fellowship Project is to establish Physic and Apothecary Gardens, Specifically for Distillation, Education and Tourism. Killara's current location, on 26 acres, will allow Kristy the space to cultivate plants for her Apothecary gins and grow barley for Killara whisky. Kristy's also planted grapes for brandy and a few oak trees for casks. Her mum Lyn has even planted some special roses for distilling into perfume. [source]

Killara's Distillation Process

Killara's original 600-litre copper pot still (the Rocket Ship) had a top-mounted condenser (no lyne arm) and was modelled on the Larks' original still, which itself was modelled on a 5-litre antique still Lyn Lark found at an auction, which is what got the Larks distilling in the first place. [source] The very first Lark stove-top 5L antique still now resides at Killara Distillery. 

In 2022, Kristy upgraded the 600-litre still to a 1,600-litre, more traditional style pot-still, with a short fat neck and side condenser (a top condenser would have required a much greater roof height). While a different shape/configuration to the Rocket Ship, Dorothy was similarly designed to minimise reflux. Dorothy was the last still made by Peter Bailey, whose first still was produced for Bill and Lyn.

Killara's wash is produced by Spring Bay Distillery (Spring Bay added brewing facilities in 2019 and can now produce a surplus of what is effectively un-hopped beer). Killara has a two-week distillation process: 2000 litres of wash is run during week 1, then during week 2, 700 litres of low wines (plus foreshots/feints) are distilled to produce 250 litres of spirit/hearts. The low reflux results in a rich, oily, spicy, malty spirit - the flavour profile retained during maturation.

Killara crafts its exceptional gins using neutral cane spirit. All gins are made in the gin lab using mini alembics (see photo gallery below).

Killara, and Kristy, have received numerous awards and recognition for their whisky.

  • Wizards of Whisky Australasian Whisky of The Year 2021
  • Kristy won Whisky Distiller/Producer of the Year at the Australian Whisky Awards 2021 and, 
  • Cask KD13 (matured in a 100 litre ex-Tawny Port cask and bottled at 50% abv) received a Gold Medal, 95 points at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2021.

Apothecary Gin

Killara Distillery's Apothecary Gin is crafted using botanicals sourced predominantly from Tasmania and designed to be a lighter-style sipping ginKristy recommends pairing it with sliced strawberry or sliced green apple. It has a smooth and refreshing taste with just a hint of Juniper and citrus. We loved the Apothecary gin, especially the Navy Strength (bottled at 57.5% abv), which we now have at home. We also purchased the Triple Juniper Gin for a juniper-loving friend (Happy Birthday, Mel). Killara is an excellent spot to shop for gin gifts. The other core-range gin is the Barrel Aged; Apothecary Gin placed in ex-whisky casks for several weeks (Batch 1 was seven weeks, Batch 2 was 12 weeks).

Killara's Gin Liqueurs are also fabulous. We particularly loved the Bush Liqueur, made with Tasmanian Pepperberries. It is delightfully herbal/vegetal. We enjoy it neat or over ice, though apparently, it also goes very well with ginger beer.

The Sloe Gin Liqueur was also a hit. Sloes, also known as Blackthorn, are a close relative of plums. They are steeped in Apothecary Gin with a small amount of sugar, allowing them to develop a deep colour and a complex flavour profile over several months, producing a delicious plummy/jammy liqueur.

A percentage of every bottle of Apothecary Gin sold goes to a local charity.

Where Is Killara Distillery

Killara Distillery is located at 32 Ogilvie Lane, near the charming town of Richmond, Tasmania (30 km north east of Hobart). The distillery is housed in a purpose built shed on 26 acres, with additional buildings for tasting events, and a Distillery School (coming soon). The land will be used to grow some of their own barley in future, as well as herbs and other botanicals for the gins.

We recommend having your own vehicle, or hiring a private tour vehicle (or Uber) when visiting distilleries around Hobart. Killara Distillery is not accessible by public transport. We booked our hire car via DiscoverCars.com (affiliate link). Drink Tasmania include Killara Distillery in their small group (max 11 persons) whisky tours of Hobart.

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Killara Distillery Tours and Tastings

Killara Distillery is a must-visit destination near Hobart for anyone who loves whisky and gin. They are open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am til 4 pm, and Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. However, as they are a very small distillery with only 1 or 2 staff, advanced bookings are highly recommended as it helps them manage the number of visitors on site (especially during the busy summer months).

Tours and tastings can be booked by emailing whisky@killara.com.au or by sending a contact request.

Private tours are $50 per person and include a tasting of three Killara whiskies. During the tour, you will learn about the history of the distillery, the distilling process, and the different products that are produced at Killara Distillery.

After the tour, visitors can enjoy a tasting of the distillery's Apothecary Gins, and other seasonal Tasmanian spirits.

Thank you to Siobhan for our tour, and thank you to the adorable Bonny (distillery dog) for being excellent company.

Samples of Killara whisky in the still house. From left to right: Killara Bourbon Cask KD36, Killara Tawny (4 years) and Rum Cask (4 months) KD60 released for Dark Mofo 2023, and Killara Bourbon KD36 at Cask Strength.

About the author

Amanda

Amanda is an Australian-born photographer, digital nomad and whisky lover. Her passion for travel and whisky lead her to Islay, where she fell in love with an Ileach (an Islay native). Amanda and Roddy now share their Spirited Adventures.

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