There’s a new player coming to the Tasmanian distilling scene, and its one that is aiming to revolutionise the state’s whisky contract distilling industry.
Greenbanks Distilling Co. is headed up by three partners – former Diageo boss, Tim Salt; distiller John Slattery; and creator of Buckley’s Rye Whisky, Hugh Roxburgh. All partners bring a range of unique skills to the venture, while sharing a passion for Tasmanian whisky and a strong vision for its future on both a local and global scale.
Roxburgh started thinking of the idea to create a ground breaking whisky contract distillery in Tasmania when he created Buckley’s Rye Whisky, a brand which launched into the local market two years ago.
“I tried to have it made in Australia but couldn’t find anyone to make it to the quality, price and style that I was looking for. I realised there was a genuine opportunity to build a world-class distillery and help other people bring their whisky vision to life. Out of this, the idea for Greenbanks Distilling Co. was born,” Roxburgh said.
“Tasmania has the potential to be a significant global force in whisky and we want to help the distilling community take Tasmanian whiskies to the world.”
It was also during the creation of Buckley’s that Slattery became involved, when consulting with Roxburgh.
“As we worked together, we came to the realisation that a broader opportunity existed to set up a distillery in Tasmania that can make that style of whisky among many others. I’m passionate about creating great whiskies and learning about the craft, so being involved in bringing Greenbanks Distilling Co. to life is the fulfilment of a long-held dream,” he said.
Salt was the final partner to join, and said: “Having stepped away from the corporate world last year I wanted to do something that excited and challenged me. Independent of Hugh and John, I’d determined that Tasmanian whisky is a big opportunity. I was put in touch with Hugh by a mutual connection. When we met it was immediately clear there was great alignment on the vison we had, and it made sense for us to work together to realise those ambitions.”
Greenbanks Distilling Co. anticipates it will be up and running by the end of Q1 2023, with a capacity to service both new and established brands and contracts of all sizes and styles. It will also feature bonded warehouses to age whisky for customers.
Slattery notes: “The distilling equipment we’re installing gives us the flexibility to make whisky not just from malted barley but also corn, wheat and rye – or any combination of those.
“A key aspect of the distillery will be our state of the art control technology, which is our assurance of repeatability and quality every time we produce spirit for our customers. In addition, our significant scale and capacity makes Greenbanks Distilling Co. an attractive long term distillation partner as we help our customers grow and succeed over time.”
While the immediate focus with the distillery will be supporting customers with contract distilling, the team also plans to develop and launch its own brands over time, all with the intention of bringing extraordinary Tasmanian whisky to the world stage.
Salt said this intention is incredibly important, given the strong potential of the industry and its spirits.
“In Australia, local whiskies currently account for only two per cent of total whisky sales. This compares to around 80 per cent of beer and around 70 per cent of wine sales being locally made. This highlights the opportunity here at home,” Salt said.
“The bigger opportunity however is in the exporting of Tasmanian whisky around the globe. Japanese whiskies have shown that it is possible for new world whiskies to compete on the world stage. Tasmania already creates some wonderful whiskies, and we believe Tasmania has the potential to be a significant global force in whisky.
“This is a huge opportunity, and we are 100 per cent focused on helping the Tasmanian distilling community take Tasmanian whiskies to the world.”
Roxburgh affirmed this focus on local, and added: “A commitment to the community – both the whisky community and Tasmania more broadly – is very important to us. This includes a commitment to source our capital equipment, people and input materials locally wherever possible.”
In addition to this, Greenbanks Distilling Co. will also be committed to conserving water, and has planned the business to minimise its carbon footprint from the start, by adopting industry best practice and innovation.
“One example of this is our plan to offer our stillage (the combined liquid and grain solids that remain after distillation) as a co-product to the agriculture industry for use as either animal feed or fertiliser, and also to the renewable energy sector for biogas production. We’re also building our distillery with the capability to switch to sustainably produced hydrogen power as soon as this becomes available,” said Roxburgh.