Tassie tipple tops the whisky charts

TASMANIA has become synonymous with the finer things in life and whisky-making is one of the industries perfectly suited to the island’s pristine landscape.

Good whisky demands pure water and this is Tasmania’s trump card, creating a holy trinity with quality grain and judicious distilling to produce Hellyers Road single malt whisky.

“We get the lovely winds that come from the ‘Roaring Forties’ so the water is very cold and very fresh,” says general manager and master distiller Mark Littler.

“We’re the closest part of Australia to Antarctica, we have an amazing climate and produce great-quality food. Tasmania has become an important brand in terms of quality.”

The Hellyers Road trophy cabinet features plaudits from prestigious shows such as World Whisky Master Awards, while the distillery’s Pinot Noir Finish release was judged ‘Best New World Whisky’ at Whisky Live Paris.

When Hellyers Road began entering these shows, Mark says, “people were pleasantly surprised to see new whisky from abroad and that Tasmania can be a region for single malt whisky”.

Hellyers Road was established in the mid-1990s when senior management of Betta Milk built a distillery on land next to its plant. Mark, a born-and-bred Tasmanian, finds certain synergies between the dairy industry and distilling (he has a Bachelor of Applied Science).

“Anyone working within a process that involves converting raw materials into a product – wine, cheese, whisky – knows it’s imperative to understand hygiene and quality control,” Mark says.

Now the largest boutique single malt distillery in Australia, Hellyers Road began production in January 1999 and first went on sale in 2006 – perfectly timed to capture the growing trend for Tasmanian spirits.

“With the single malt whisky, wine and local food, we’re geographically blessed,” Mark says.

Whisky’s rules and conventions make production a long-term affair, and Hellyers Road is usually aged for at least seven years.

The result is a drink of rare quality that appeals to connoisseurs and newer converts alike.

As well as the usual rich single malt hallmarks of caramel and nuttiness, Hellyers Road displays fruity notes of apple and peach, which Mark says, “makes our distillery smell like an orchard”.


Opinions differ about the best way to enjoy whisky – maybe with ice or a splash of water – but Mark encourages people to try Hellyers Road neat at first. The next glass is up to you – as Mark says: “You’ve paid for the whisky so drink it however you like it.”

  1. Take a big sniff of the whisky to appreciate its aroma.
  2. Take a decent-sized sip of your whisky and hold on the tongue for 5-10 seconds.
  3. ‘Chew’ your whisky – this will release all its flavours such as fruitiness, nuttiness and smokiness.