One of my favourite things to do when travelling is visit wineries and breweries to taste, sample and learn about my favourite alcoholic drinks. I imagine the excitement I feel doing this is similar to that felt by small children visiting toy or chocolate factories (‘so, this is where the magic happens!’).
While sampling the various drinks is obviously my favourite part of this kind of experience, I also genuinely enjoy learning about what I’m tasting. From the ins and outs of the industry to how to tell if wine has ‘legs’, learning not only makes it feel more acceptable to be drinking before noon, you can actually find out some pretty interesting facts.
So, when my sister suggested going on a drinking tour recently when we were in Tasmania, my partner and I signed up without hesitation.
While I’m no expert when it comes to the alcohol industry, and some of these insights may not be news to you, I learned a lot about the alcohol industry in general and in Tasmania while visiting various wineries, breweries and distilleries.
These are five of the most interesting things I learned:
1. There are now more cherries than apples being grown in Tasmania to produce cider
This shift towards cherry production has seen the increase of a greater number of delicious cherry-infused ciders. My two favourites are from Frank’s Cherry Pear Cider and Pagan Cider’s Cherry Cider, which has 40% cherry juice and 60% apple juice. Yum!
Pagan Cider are boutique cider makers who use local Huon Valley fruit produce to make their ciders and will often have limited edition varieties that they trial and look for customer feedback on. When we visited the cellar door in July they had blueberry and strawberry cider, which were amazing! You can also purchase a selection of these awesome ciders online, so check them out here.
2. The maximum percentage of alcohol in cider is 8%
Apparently, if the alcohol content of cider is more than 8%, it is no longer classified as cider but as fruit wine. Producing and selling fruit wine in Australia comes with a higher tax, so wineries are careful not to exceed that 8% limit.
3. One-third of the wine currently being produced in Tasmania is cuveé
Tasmania is perfect for producing good quality sparkling wines because of its cool climate and the maritime influence from Bass Strait.
That being said, the conditions for growing wine grapes in Tasmania are at the high end of the cold spectrum. We learned that one winery we visited often has to put sprinklers on overnight to prevent frost affecting the vines.
4. Whiskey is made out of beer
I am not a fan of whiskey, or beer, so this fact didn’t shock me too much too much!
As I understand it, beer is made by breaking down the starch in barley into sugars, which are then fermented using yeast, and then flavoured with hops. The beer produced from this process is then distilled, turning it into whiskey!
5. Distilling whiskey only became legal in Tasmania in 1991
Technically, distilling was legal in Tasmania until 1838, when it was banned, and then it only became legalised again after 150 years. I may be showing my age, but 1991 just seems so recent… I was alive then!
Tasmania has a burgeoning alcohol industry and from my adventures, I’ve discovered those in the industry are passionate about their product and more than happy to share their knowledge with interested travellers. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Tasmanian alcohol industry, I highly recommend you check out a Drink Tasmania tour and do the tour at Cascades Brewery. If you’re planning a trip to Tasmania in winter, here are some of the pros and cons to consider.