In Conversation with Distiller Blair Whitehead of Nant Distilling
BY NANT BLOG
Driven by perseverance and determination
“Perseverance and determination got me started, I sent my resume and cover letter to numerous distilleries in Tasmania before I landed my dream job as a Distiller’s Assistant at Nant. I am very creative, passionate and a perfectionist by nature. These personality traits lend themselves seamlessly to the art of distilling. Couple this with my love of whisky, becoming a distiller felt so natural as if it was just something I was born to do. I will be forever grateful to Nant for giving me the opportunity to fulfil my dream of becoming a distiller.”
Can you share one moment of inspiration?
It was a warm summer’s evening at Nant and my favourite time of the day. I had just released my first Port Wood 63% cask strength whisky and I was sitting with a wee dram in my hand, thinking I had reached the pinnacle of my distilling career. I was sitting alone on the wooden bridge in front of the distillery as the River Clyde gently cascaded over the spillway of the mill pond and wound its way beneath my feet dangling over the edge of the bridge as it continued down river. The sun was low in the sky, bathing everything in touched in a rich golden glow as it slowly began to disappear beyond the hills in the distance. .
What is your favourite part of the production process?
My favourite part of the production process would have to be the very last stage, knowing first-hand the immense amount of time and hard work that goes into producing every precious drop of liquid gold that is a Nant whisky. It’s a very special feeling seeing a bottle of Nant whisky sitting on the shelf ready and waiting to be enjoyed and savoured.
What has been your most memorable moment since joining the Nant distilling team?
My most memorable moment would have to be when my second release 100% handcrafted by yours truly (Cask #535 a three year old 43% Nant Single Malt Whisky matured in an Ex American Oak Bourbon Cask) won the Gold Medal in the 2018 Women’s Distilled Spirits Awards in London as well as a Silver Medal in the 2018 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. I was extremely proud and it was a memorable moment in my distilling career to be awarded double medals for a single release.
What is your favourite tasting note of the Nant Tasmanian Single Malt Highland Whisky range?
My favourite tasting note of the Nant whisky range would have to be our Port cask. I love the rich complexity of the nose and palate and the way it instantly evokes treasured memories of sipping Port while playing cards on the Murray River with my dear old Pa.
Aside from Nant whiskies, do you have another preferred Australian whisky in your collection?
I am very partial to Lark’s recent limited release ‘’The Wolf”, I love the rich cocoa dark chocolate and subtle smoky notes. Chris and the boys at Lark really did an exceptional job with this special release.
Do you meet up with any other Tasmanian distillers to talk about the whisky industry?
I like to think of the Tasmanian whisky industry as a bit of a family, I really enjoy meeting and talking with distillers from other distilleries. Tasmanian Whisky Week was a fantastic opportunity for everyone in the industry to come together to share our ideas, our love for whisky and our passion for what we do.
What would you like to see happen in the Australian whisky industry in the future?
I really think we are at the forefront of what could be a very lucrative new industry in Australia. It is my hope that if we continue to produce an ultra-premium class whisky, Australia will soon be known as a leader on the world stage. And who knows? We may even give the Scots a run for their money!