In Conversation with Distiller Rebecca Walsh of Nant Distilling
BY NANT BLOG
Why whisky, whisky making and artisanal practices
“I’ve been distilling at Nant now for just over a year. I first got into whisky working as a bartender in a small whisky bar while studying at uni. When I was first hired I didn’t know much about whisky but I was quickly drawn into it.
I love the layers of story behind a nip of whisky. The craft, the history and the unique flavour profiles behind each nip really captivate me. I also really enjoy how it brings people together.”
What do you love doing?
Being part of a small team means we get to be hands on across the whole process, I love that as part of my job. I am involved in the creation of our whisky from its raw ingredients through to sharing it with our customers. It’s great to spend a day in the distillery running a brew and the stills simultaneously. I find great satisfaction in crafting a product that is passionately hand crafted from locally sourced materials.
How difficult is it to learn the craft of making whisky?
While whisky creation is simple in that we only use 3 ingredients (barley, yeast and water) there is a true craft in the process. Learning the basics isn’t too difficult but it’s exciting just how much you can learn about the finer details and in turn how much playing with these changes the character of your final product. I recently visited distilleries in Taiwan and the UK and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face thinking that it was a work-related learning experience.
The best things about the job
I’m passionate about whisky and science and my job really brings these worlds together for me. I also love that my job involves problem solving and varies so much day to day. The whisky industry in Tasmania is a great one to be part of. It’s great to be surrounded by people who are so passionate about their craft and keen to discuss the finer details of it over samples of the delicious products being produced.
What have you brought to the role?
I had a real mixed-bag of jobs before coming to Nant. This, paired with my travels and studies has provided me with a broad skill set that comes in handy in such a varied role. My training in the science sector aids in my eye for detail and helps me track patterns in our production.
What is your favourite tasting note of the Nant whisky range?
One of the great things about Nant is that our Classic Collection is made up of single cask releases. This means while they all retain the main characteristics of a Nant single malt whisky there is variation between each cask. These differences come down to variations in their creation, for example “the weather during its brews ferment and the distiller” and maturation “which bond store it matured in and cask type”. This creates a great profile of tasting notes that it is difficult to choose a favourite Nant single malt whisky. I do tend to favour our releases that have matured close to windows in our mill house, these casks tend to have a really nice smoky note that comes from an increased rate of interaction with our heavily charred casks.
Many whisky enthusiasts pair the favourite whisky with either chocolate or other sweet delights, do you have a pairing that you would like to share?
Food and whisky pairings are fun to experiment with. Cured meats bring out great characteristics in a lot of whiskies. Sitting down with a chacuterie board and a flight of whisky, tasting between the produce is a great way to bring out different characteristics of your samples.
Where to from here?
I’m currently completing my Diploma of Distilling through the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in the UK. It’s helping provide a great foundation of knowledge that will help me delve a little deeper into the research and experimenting side of the craft.
What about the Nant Distillery?
The Nant Estate is an amazing space to work. I still frequently stop and pinch myself that my workspace is so stunning. It’s great to be surrounded by so much history, since Edward Nicholas established it and his flour mill in the 1800s it’s been creating hand crafted products from Tasmanian produce. The story of the estate draws you in and it’s a great one to be a part of.܃
To discover more about the Nant Distilling Company visit www.nant.com.au
Original words: Anne Gigney
Photo credit: JMolina