Lawrenny Estate Distilling: harvesting the future
Australia’s Lawrenny Estate Distilling is putting the focus on creating a world-class whisky inspired by Tasmania’s unique natural resources.
Spirits from around the world have risen in popularity as consumers seek out products with history and provenance from unfamiliar regions. Australia is leading the ‘new world’ whisky category, with distilleries from all parts of the country releasing innovative liquid influenced by their land, to international acclaim.
One undiscovered gem for whisky fans is Tasmania, an island state in Australia’s most southern point. Tasmania is an area of natural beauty, and is known for its dry summers and icy winters, urban landscapes and rugged national parks.
As a must‐see destination, with its wild Antarctic winds that stream across the lush countryside, the area has also become known for its burgeoning distilling scene. Tasmania is home to more than 60 craft distilleries, some of which have become globally recognised.
Among the growing community of Tasmanian producers is Lawrenny Estate Distilling, based in the picturesque Central Highlands region. Lawrenny is a 400‐acre, family‐owned and operated estate, which has been run by Ross and Mary Mace for the past 30 years.
Lawrenny’s journey began in the early 1800s when the colonial cattle tycoon, lieutenant Edward Lord, established the property. Lord was known as one of the most colourful characters in the history of Van Diemen’s Land (the former name of Tasmania), with the name Lawrenny coming from his home town in Wales.
Once comprising 80,000 acres, Lawrenny Estate became well known for farming premium cattle and sheep, and ample fields of wheat, barley and hops. Lawrenny Estate changed hands in 1991 when the Mace family took over the neglected property.
Under the new ownership, the estate was returned to its former glory, with luscious gardens, fertile pastures and the finest breeding beef cattle. Today, the estate is renowned for producing quality Tasmanian spirits that pay tribute to its heritage and location.
Before the spirit reaches the barrel, it has engaged with the estate in multiple ways. The barley grain is grown in the Lawrenny soils, exposed to the winds of the Central Highlands and irrigated with water sourced directly from the upper River Derwent.
The pure water that originates from Lake Saint Clair, Australia’s deepest freshwater lake, travels through Lawrenny Estate, just metres from the distillery doors, and is used throughout the distilling process. It provides the whisky with the unique quality of being completely produced on the estate.
Jensen Farley, distillery co‐founder and general manager, said: “The enjoyment of whisky is a journey of discovery. Very few products are so significantly impacted by their natural environment over many years.
“Developing an outstanding whisky is a combination of sourcing the finest raw materials and then allowing it the time to gracefully mature, the cask breathing in and absorbing the local air that passes through the oak with each seasonal climatic change.
“Our intent at Lawrenny has always been to harness the unique elements found across the island state of Tasmania, as well as the estate. Together with our award‐winning distilling team, these elements have enabled us to develop a whisky we are confident will be among some of the finest in the world.”
Of great importance to Lawrenny is ensuring that its production process is guided by an experienced distiller. A landmark moment for Lawrenny came when it landed one of Australia’s leading distillers, Joe Dinsmoor.
Dinsmoor got his start in the industry at Tasmanian distillery Lark, where he was taught by Bill Lark, a legend in the Australian distilling scene. He then moved to Sydney to join Archie Rose Distillery as its head distiller, where he secured multiple global awards.
After a visit to the Lawrenny Estate to see what was being developed first‐hand, Dinsmoor was quick to return to Tasmania. “Some places just leave you in amazement, and Lawrenny was definitely one of them,” Dinsmoor explained.
“When I first came down the barley‐lined driveway to the distillery, seeing the River Derwent racing by, I was sold before I had even seen the equipment. I feel we really have an advantage over other producers not only for our focus on quality, which is something you see from the inside out at Lawrenny, but we have complete control over our process.
“From the type of barley we grow to the way it is malted, brewed, distilled and matured, we have the final say throughout, along with the ongoing determination to better ourselves with each batch produced.”
Distillation at the Lawrenny Estate began in 2017, and several limited releases have sold out quickly. As the whisky continues to mature, Dinsmoor’s focus is on developing the distillery’s core range of spirits, while incorporating the essence of the estate.
“We’ve taken inspiration from the surrounds of the distillery, using botanicals found across Lawrenny’s own orchard or gardens including strawberries, almonds, blue cypress and roses,” Dinsmoor added. “We are exceptionally proud of our range of spirits, each representing an element of our estate and of Tasmania.”
Lawrenny’s portfolio of spirits include four gins – Lawrenny Van Diemen’s Gin, 1818 Settler’s Gin, Highlands Gin, and Meadowbank Pink Gin – as well as Saint Clair Vodka, and a coffee liqueur. Lawrenny Estate Distilling’s products are distributed in Australia, Europe and Asia.