Craft whisky

page 71

A distillery with a million litres of production capacity and another with 5,000 litres cannot both be 'craft' distilleries... can they?


Mark Littler told me with a dead straight face that Hellyers Road was a craft distillery. Compared to, say, the Glenfiddich Distillery in Scotland, Hellyers is certainly smaller, but Littler's claim would be regarded in Tasmania in the same way as David Gate's claim in New York (reported in Unfiltered magazine) that Johnnie Walker is "the largest craft whisky brand in the world".


But both men can almost get away with it because the word ‘craft’ has many connotations, and no definition of craft whisky is likely to find universal favour. I began to craft something else, but my idea was so dangerous the section was doomed before I submitted it, with Bill Lark alerting the publisher during my research discussions with him that the topic was divisive and therefore unwanted. I was told by the publisher not to submit it for publication. Consequently, "craft"—a term everyone uses because it carries cache—is not examined in the book.

Neither is its alternative "industrial" distillation described. For there is the rub: who wants to be known as an industrial distiller—in James Watt's (Brewdog, UK) words: an insipid, faceless, monolithic, industrial, mega-corp?  

Bruce-Gardyne highlighted the idea of Tony Reeman-Clarke of Strathearn Distillery. In front of the word craft, Reeman-Clarke suggested, should be the word hand. I agree with him, and I developed a tick-box chart to show the many distinctions between craft and industrial distillation. Many distilleries will have some ticks on both sides of the line, but most will find themselves, clearly, on one side or the other. Finding craft is easy.


Design Bernard Lloyd

Bernard LloydComment