The Tasmanian and wider Australian spirits industry has had a moment in the international spotlight recently, thanks to the latest season of National Geographic show – Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.
The show sees celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay travel across the world, experiencing the different produce and culture of a range of countries. In the debut episode of the show’s second season, Ramsay headed to Australia for an episode called ‘Untamed Tasmania.’
Ramsay starts off on the coast of the Forestier Peninsula and then travels around Australia’s most southern state meeting local producers and suppliers. The premise of the show is that each stop will teach him about a new ingredient, culminating in a cook off against a local chef using this newfound knowledge.
After sampling and learning about local seafood, wallaby, honey and native ingredients, Ramsay arrives at Belgrove Distillery, one of the greenest distilleries in the world and creator of iconic sheep’s poo peated whisky ‘Wholly Shit.’
While at Belgrove Distillery, Ramsay meets Distiller and Owner Peter Bignell, touring the distillery, tasting the whisky and even trying his hand at shovelling the sheep poo that is used to create Wholly Shit. Ramsay goes on to use said whisky in the cook off too.
National Liquor News caught up with Bignell about what it was like filming the episode and helping showcase Tasmanian spirits on the world stage, as well as what it’s been like since the episode began airing across the world this year.
“They contacted me, I have no idea how they found out about me. I suspect it was because of the Wholly Shit Whisky and winning quite a few awards in world competitions, but someone must have done their research,” Bignell said.
“There was a lot of excitement, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody about it, I had to sign a contract… and be very quiet – I couldn’t even tell my wife about it.”
When it came to filming, Bignell said the whole process was smooth and that Ramsay was “a really easy bloke to work with,” far from the persona viewers often see on shows like Kitchen Nightmares.
Since the episode began airing through National Geographic across the world, the impact on Bignell’s business has been incredible.
“It does create a lot of interest around the world and you can track the show where its airing at the time. It aired in the USA and Canada first, and that actually crashed my website,” Bignell said.
Belgrove Distillery does not currently have a distributor in the USA, and because of alcohol legislation laws there, Bignell is not able to ship mail orders there if purchased through his website. After the site crashed, the distillery received hundreds of disappointed emails about this fact, to the point that Bignell has looked into getting US distribution for the first time ever.
This boosted interest, both locally and internationally, has been just what Belgrove Distillery needed after feeling the impact of the pandemic strongly this year.
“The show came on with perfect timing as far as COVID was concerned, because my sales into bars and clubs just stopped. This really was an absolute lifesaver,” Bignell said.
Australian shoppers especially are looking to support local producers more often, and big names, networks and programs that celebrate them are opening consumer eyes to the options available in their backyards.
You can watch Belgrove Distillery on Season Two, Episode One of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted through the National Geographic Channel and on Disney +.