Spring Bay started producing whisky at Spring Beach (83 km north east of Hobart) in 2015. Their wash was sourced from Last Rights Brewery until they installed their own brewing equipment when they built a second distillery in Cambridge in 2019. Spring Bay now provide wash to Kristy Lark at Killara Distillery. Spring Bay Distillery Cambridge is located just around the corner from Sullivans Cove and Drifters End distilleries, making it a convenient choice to visit if you're in the Hobart area. While the Spring Beach distillery site is an hour from Hobart, the stunning scenery makes it well worth the trip.
Spring Bay Whisky Distillery, Cambridge
Cambridge is the primary distillery site for Spring Bay (the first/original and prettiest site is in Spring Beach) is open Monday to Friday for tasting and tours. Tours should be booked online in advance (at least 24 hours prior). Tours cost $35 per person and run for approximately 45 minutes at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.
The Cambridge site is in an industrial estate, a short drive from Hobart Airport. Spring Bay set up a mash and fermentation system at Cambridge in 2019. There is a mash mixer in addition to the mash tun to increase the efficiency of the mash process (the mash mixer hydrates and pre-heats the grist prior to it entering the mash tun). Each mash run takes 450kg grist (from 100% Tasmanian barley) which is mixed with 2,400 litres of water. Each fermentation tank holds 2000 litres of wort at a time
Three days a week the still is dedicated to creating low wines, and two days a week, the still is run with low wines (and the feints and foreshots from the previous spirit run). Spring Bay has a single 2,500L capacity still (made in Tassie by Peter Bailey), which they use for both the wash run and the spirit run, using a 2000L charge. Spring Bay did consider installing a second still when they added the Cambridge distillery site. However, they'd gotten used to the system of running with just one still. The extra room allowed for the installation of more brewing equipment. Most Tasmanian distilleries are not mashing/fermenting on site; they usually purchase wash from a brewer - in most cases, Last Rights.
Rainwater collected from Spring Beach is carted in IBCs to Cambridge and used in the whisky bottling process. The water is added to the vatted whisky slowly over several days to ensure the correct ABV is achieved (ABV can vary rapidly if too much water is added too quickly, and you can't remove it once it's in!). Spring Bay generally release their whiskies at 46% (unchillfitered, natural colour), though the smaller Rheban range is released at 58%.
Thank you to distiller Jack for our tour and tasting.
Spring Bay Solera Casks
Spring Bay's Solera casks system comprises four 500-litre puncheons in a vertical rack. Mature Spring Bay whisky goes in to the top barrel (an ex-Chardonnay casks) for a little while (minimal time as imparts least flavour overall), then into an ex-Tawny cask (which helps to give the whisky more body) and finally it is added into two ex-Muscat casks (casks three and four). The idea is to have no less than 20% of each cask filled with whisky at any one time, and the flavour profiles will vary over time depending on what the initial whisky was, and how long it sits in each cask in the system. The really cool bit is that you can walk up to the tap on the bottom barrel (muscat) and have a wee taste to check how its going. This is a really lovely setup and the whisky being produced (small batch/limited release) is superb (we got ourselves a bottle while we were at the distillery).
Spring Bay Gin Distillery, Spring Beach
Spring Bay Gin is made at Spring Beach, using a neutral wheat spirit and Australian native botanicals (in addition to traditional gin ingredients such as juniper). Spring Bay Vodka is 50% neutral wheat spirit and 50% barley spirit (it won gold at the 2023 World Vodka Awards). Their distinctive Pink Gin combines Spring Bay Classic Gin with Tasmanian raspberries.
Spring Bay also have a rather delicious limited edition Brandy. When they received the 2,500-litre still in 2019, they seasoned it with a distillation of Gewurztraminer / Riesling wine by Domaine Dawnelle. The resulting Eau de Vie was then matured for nearly three years, first in an ex-Pinot Port cask and then finished in an ex-Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc Brandy cask, lent to them by Winstead Winery.
Spring Bay Spring Beach distillery and tasting room is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
- Classic Tastings are every half hour from 11:00 am to 2:00pm. Gin tastings are $15 AUD and Whisky tastings are $20 AUD per person. Online bookings are available (and advanced bookings are recommended as it is a small venue). Tastings are approximately 20 minutes duration.
- VIP Tastings (whisky) are available hourly from 11:00 am to 2:00pm, take approximately 45 minutes and cost $50 AUD per person. This is a guided tasting of three Spring Bay Signature Single Malt Whiskies in their luxurious velvet lounges amongst the maturing casks. Minimum 2 people required to book. Take-away drams are not available so mind that you have a designated driver. Online bookings are available and advanced bookings are highly recommended.
- Smooth as Velvet - VIP tasting with paired Coal River Chocolates: at 11.30 am and 1.30 pm, approximately 45 minutes duration and $75 AUD per person. Minimum 2 people required to book. Take-away drams are not available so mind that you have a designated driver. Online bookings are available and advanced bookings are highly recommended.