The Hunter Valley's first dedicated whiskey distillery has opened
We have exciting news for whiskey lovers: the first whiskey distillery in the Hunter Valley has just opened after starting the distilling process more than two years ago.
Tower Whiskey Distillery is an exciting addition to the luxurious Tower Lodge, which was relaunched earlier this year after an extensive revamp by long-time family owners Michael and Karen Hope.
A short stroll alongside the shiraz vineyards from Tower Lodge, the distillery taps into the rich history of the property, taking up residence in what was once the Tower Estate cellar door.
The exterior has been updated to reflect the distillery’s branding, with the entry tower painted copper to resemble Tower Whiskey Distillery’s custom-built copper whiskey still, and the distillery’s name crafted in steel by local blacksmith Rene Rasmussen.
It’s a very suitable spot for tasting whiskey – the interior is at once luxurious yet comfortable; like the lavishly-furnished lounge room of a grand country home. There are ample plush chairs dotted throughout the tasting room, perfect for settling in while you’re guided through a tasting of Tower Whiskey Distillery’s four initial release whiskeys.
The whiskeys are distinguished by the casks in which they’ve been aged, which impart different flavours in each whiskey. Included in the initial release are Bourbon Barrel No. B1, French Malbec Cask No. 7, American Shiraz Cask No. 3, and French Fortified Cask No. 9.
“We are lucky to have access to many types of casks here at Tower Whiskey Distillery; fortified casks, casks that have held shiraz, malbec and cabernet, French oak, American oak, light grain, medium grain, heavily and lightly charred, and different ages. It allows us to create some pleasing combinations and we’re thrilled with the variations in the end product,” Michael said.
Perhaps more importantly, all of the whiskeys are single malt and single cask. This means that not only are the whiskeys made exclusively from malted barley, but they only came from one cask – multiple casks weren’t blended to make the final product, unlike most whiskeys on the market.
If you’re a whiskey enthusiast, chances are you knew all this already. But whether you’re an aficionado or an amateur, you’ll learn something new at Tower Whiskey Distillery’s guided Whiskey Flight Experience.
The experience is available to book now for $40 per person for advance bookings ($45 for walk-ins, pending availability), and the distillery’s first four whiskeys are also available for purchase.
Guests at Tower Lodge enjoy a complimentary Whiskey Flight Experience included as part of their stay (booking in advance required) and can soon look forward to guided distillery tours for a behind-the-scenes insight to the process of whiskey distilling, as well as private whiskey tastings.
Michael said the Tower Whiskey Distillery was an opportunity to bring a unique taste of the Hunter Valley to site-distilled, small batch whiskeys, that neatly tied together all aspects of his multifaceted hospitality business.
“To make whiskey wash (the base of whiskey) we use the Hope Estate Brewery, and the spent grain is then used to feed our Angus cattle that we are breeding here onsite. We also need used wine casks to age our whiskey, which is something we have plenty of, so I have used a combination of casks to age the whiskey,” Mr Hope said.
“To me, bringing whiskey distilling onboard ties the whole business together in a very ecologically sustainable way; it’s an essential piece in the puzzle," he said.