By Stefanie Collins, editor b&c
NewsLifeMedia this week announced the winners of the 2016 delicious. Produce Awards, with Tasmanian distiller Peter Bignell taking home a major award.
Sixteen awards were presented in total, including three new awards, In the Bottle, which celebrates Australia’s artisan drink makers.
"This award celebrates wonderfully drinkable, premium products that are hand-crafted, and made with diligence and care. Distiller Peter Bignell of Belgrove Distillery is one of the world’s few paddock-to-bottle distillers, but that’s only part of his remarkable story,” says Mike Bennie, delicious. magazine contributor.
“Organically grown grains are used in all of Bignell’s spirits, his water harvested from his roof, his still handmade from salvaged copper and he produces his own bio-diesel from spent cooking oil to power his farm. All this might lend authenticity, but the proof is in the bottle. These are spirits, particularly whiskies, which celebrate the ultimate in provenance and process, lo-fi, real, exceptional in quality and character.”
Bignell was exceptionally please to be nominated and then win on the evening, saying of the honour: “I am humbled to be chosen for this inaugural national award called ‘In the Bottle'. Thank you to all of the great people out there who have supported me on my distilling journey.”
Belgrove Distillery is situated 45 minutes north of Hobart in Tasmania and is the first rye distillery in Australia and the 'greenest distillery’ in existence. Bignell decided to start up a distillery six years ago when he experienced financial hardship related to changes in Australian government farming regulations. He turned to his surplus of rye but couldn’t find a market for it so he said to himself “The most obvious thing to do is to make some whisky”.
He now hand crafts 100 per cent rye whisky in his handmade, 700 litre direct fire copper pot still. Bignell also coopers and reconditions his own casks, which are predominantly 100 and 200 litres in size. The left over mash from the distilling process he feeds to his sheep which in turn provide fertiliser for the next crop of rye. A truly green, single estate process.
Kathleen Davies, owner at Nip of Courage which distributes Belgrove products nationally, says: "Our team is very happy for Peter, the recognition and what this Australian award represents is such a wonderful tribute to Peter's amazing distilling achievements."
Now in its eleventh year, the delicious. Produce Awards see a network of food industry experts nominate produce and producers from all over Australia. These nominees are then judged by a national judging panel (including Matt Moran, Andew McConnell, Peter Gilmore, Alla Wolf-Tasker, Maggie Beer, Guillaume Brahimi, Christine Manfield and Shannon Bennett), state judges, experts and critics panels.