In Conversation with Jack the Distiller
This week we had the chance to speak to Jack Sellers the Head Distiller at Nant Distillery, the hardworking man was able to spare some time away from the stills and have a chat with us from what drew him to becoming a distiller to what are his favourite tasting notes and all things in between.
- Our time with Jack -
What drew you into the world of whisky and what made you want to become a distiller?
I first became interested in whisky when I started a summer job working at Bladnoch distillery in southwest Scotland just down the road from my parents house. The owner at the time, Raymond Armstrong, was very passionate about the distillery and all things whisky related and it definitely left had a lasting impression on me. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realised that it was the production side of whisky that really interested me and at Nant I was able to explore the whole process from start to finish.
What makes a craft distiller’s small batch production unique?
I think that it is the connection to all parts of the process. You are there from the barley being milled right through to the whisky being bottled, drank and enjoyed. It is also the control and monitoring of these steps by one person too. Large scale distilleries just aren’t able to do that.
What part of the production process do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy running both the stills and monitoring the spirit as it runs but the obvious answer is when we can sample and taste the whisky. It’s great to be able to taste the final product of all our hard work and see how much it has changed.
As the head distiller of Nant Distilling how do you bring out the best in your team?
As a distiller you are striving to make the best whisky you can and although we work as a team we also know which distiller filled which casks. This gives the distillers a great sense of pride not just in the distillery as a whole but in their individual work and hopefully inspire them to keep making great whiskies.
The Tasmanian Highlands are a key influence to the Nant whisky range, how does its unique setting infuse its character into the Nant Whisky range?
I think our climate has a lot of influence on the character of our whisky. We have a much higher altitude compared to all other tassie distilleries. The difference in air pressure, although small, has a cumulative effect over time on the casks. On top of this the area is relatively dry and has large daily changes in temperature as we are further from the coast. We can be at 39C in summer and then be snowed in during winter. This all helps the movement of the whisky in the casks and to give us our flavour charcter.
What is your favourite tasting note of the Nant whisky range?
There are quite a few differing notes that can come through depending on the type of cask. I have a bit of a sweet tooth so I really enjoy the honeycomb, sherbet, pear drop and tropical fruit flavours that can be found in some of our whiskies.
Aside from Nant whiskies, do you have any other favourite Australian whisky in your collection?
I really enjoyed the Overeem port cask at both strengths, Sullivans Cove bourbon cask and Starwood’s wine cask. It’s hard to keep track of all the Australian whiskies as there seems to be a new release every other day and I have been a little fixated on Tassie whisky so I need to try more from the mainland.
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?
I don’t do it very often but I think chocolate with whisky is always a good pairing but try different kinds. It might sound a bit strange but a box of chocolates with different fillings can produce some amazing combinations. I did this by accident a few years ago when drinking a particularly bland Scotch. It’s a bit like making a whisky cocktail. You don’t know how it will turn out until you try!
You can follow Jack, @Jack_the_stillman on instagram for more whisky inspiration.