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Tuesday 19 April 2016

Get ready for Tasmania's first "calvados"

First it was wine, then whisky, then cider. Now Tasmania is set to produce its first commercial volumes of apple brandy, known in France as calvados. 

In a new page in the history of artisan Tasmanian distilling, Huon Valley cider producer Willie Smith's has unveiled the first Australia-built Alembic Still that will be used to make apple brandy. 

It's a $200,000 investment to further value-add to the Tasmanian apple industry and build on Willie Smith's reputation as a producer of quality hand-crafted beverages.

Approximately 180 people attended the official launch at The Apple Shed in Grove on Tuesday night, conducted by the `godfather' of Tasmania's whisky and spirits industry, Bill Lark.

The event included a barrel filling ceremony, with Lark filling the first 100-litre sherry
barrel - a product that will be released in three years' time.

Willie Smith’s head cider maker, and now distiller, Dr Tim Jones, said he was extremely
pleased with the initial spirit run saying "the spirit is smooth and fine, with creamy complexity and apple aromas – it expresses the characteristics of the cider we produce for this spirit and is also the result of this wonderfully designed and built still.

"It's a process of patience, but we think it will be well worth the wait!''

In the shorter-term Willie Smith’s is already selling Apple Schnapps and will be releasing Pear and Cherry Schnapps made with the still in the next couple of months.

Peter Bailly from Knapp Lewer Contracting crafted the copper still in Tasmania.

It is the first purpose-built Alembic copper still in Tasmania and probably Australia.

Willie Smith's co-owner, Sam Reid, said Tasmania now has 15 distilleries. 

"We feel that this will be another boost for tourism in the Huon Valley and Southern Tasmania and give people even more of a reason to visit our great region,'' he said.

"There are viewing windows from where you can watch the still in operation along with tours at set times planned for the future."

The Charentais alembic still was designed in the early 16th century in the Cognac region of France, where it is still used for fine cognac production. To this day, it is the preferred still of choice for calvados producers in Normandy in France.

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