Lark Distillery: The BasicsOwner Bill Lark, a former land surveyor who looks something like Santa Claus, is Australia's patron saint of whiskey. A decade or so ago, he realized that Tasmania had all the environmental ingredients for whiskey -- pure water, barley, even its own peat bogs. (Say bog in Australia and you'll get a giggle, because "bog" is slang for a toilet.)
Lark successfully lobbied the Australian government to change laws that made small-scale craft distilling difficult. When he opened in 1996, he became the first to open a licensed whiskey distillery in 153 years. Oh, and along the way, he traveled to Scotland to learn the craft at its source.
Learn How to Make Whiskey through Lark's ToursLarks' whiskey is award-winning, and in addition to that well-stocked bar (which pours his own whiskeys and spirits as well as many others) he's now running a distillery school to share what he's learned about the art of the good drop. The classes run for one, two and four days.
The one-day tour includes a tour of the distillery, and then, after an included lunch, a tour of the stills and a guided tasting. The four day tour is available during the summer, and involves going out to Lark's peat bog, digging the peat, smoking it (and having a barbecued trout prepared over a peat fire), and doing everything it takes to create your own 20 liter bottle of single malt whiskey. The two day tour includes one day at the bog and one day at the distillery. Booking ahead is a must for all tours, find pricing information here.
Tasmanian Whiskey Add-OnsShould someone in your traveling party not care for whiskey, don't miss some of Lark's other specialty products. There's Bush Liqueur, made out of Tasmanian pepperberries, which tastes sort of like what would happen if gin and tonic was its own spirit. There's also Cherry Max, a cherry liqueur that's sort of like kirsch, and can be sipped like a port, or, if you bring a bottle home, poured over vanilla ice cream for an adult ice cream sundae.
You can actually build an entire Tasmanian itinerary around whiskey. There are now five other whiskey makers who have opened in Lark's wake, and another two getting started in Tasmania, which would very much like to be known as "Australia's Whisky Isle". Other options include Hellyer's Road Whisky Walk, and a visit Tarraleah Lodge, which has a whiskey library that includes more than 200 bottles.
N.B.: Whiskey is spelled "whisky" in Australia -- we went with the American spelling here.