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Monday 6 November 2017

New Tasmanian tasting offers insights into distilling quality

Tasmania is fast-emerging as Australia's micro distilling capital and Charles Oates Distilling in the Huon Valley has now taken matters a step further with new distillery tours and tastings. 

The polished copper, the traditional Charentais alembic still in the distillery room at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed is an impressive sight and it produces intensely-flavoured apple-based spirits like Charles Oates Fine Apple Brandy and Charles Oates Apple Blanco.

Willie Smith’s is now offering small-group guided tours of the distillery, led by Dr Tim Jones, head cider maker and distiller at Willie Smith’s, or one of his team of gifted artisans. 

“Our still is based on the 16th-century stills made in the Charente region of France, the home of cognac,” Jones says. 

“But although it’s a traditional design, the still was hand-built in Tasmania by local master craftsmen Peter Bailly. It is a beautiful object in its own right and we are very excited about the high quality of the spirits coming from it. 

"Distilling is an art, as well as a science, and I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with visitors on the new tours.”

Guiding a maximum of 10 people on the 1.5-hour tour, the distiller will explain the French art of cider distillation using the Charentais still, which is the only one of its kind in Australia.  Tastings of Charles Oates spirits will be matched with tasting platters designed by Willie Smith’s Apple Shed head chef John Molina.

Andrew Smith is the fourth generation of Smith family orchardists to grow and harvest apples at the same location in the Huon Valley.

“The family story began with William and Elsie Smith, who planted their orchard here at Grove in 1888,” Smith says. “Elsie’s father was Charles Oates and we’re proud to acknowledge this Huon Valley pioneer by naming our apple brandy in his honour.”

Full details and bookings for the new Distillery Experience can be found at

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