In the last-minute rush to the printer, an uncorrected version of the Devil's Distillery text was published. In particular, the text suggested that Brian Hinson worked for Tas Alkaloids. That is not so. (My apologies, Brian. —Author)
A name that does not roll readily off the Celtic tongue is ‘Rocky’ Rocco Romeo Caccavo, but look out whisky world! Something of the hard zeal of the Soviet-era egg factory building he rented must have stirred the fast-acting, fast-talking Italian because he transformed that abandoned coolstore in Moonah into a distillery, registered the name Hobart Whisky and many others and bottled his first moonshine within a year.
Brian Hinson is the Devil’s distiller. The distillery water is sourced from a spring on his property in the Southern Midlands. Hinson has a background in textile research labs and manufacturing technology, and has worked in Tasmanian extra-virgin olive oil extraction. Hinson does not like peated whisky, but put a Glenfiddich in front of him to get his attention or a Glayva liqueur. He has Lake Pedder honey and tangerines and is experimenting with his own whisky liqueur recipe. He also told me he is looking into some very exotic distillates as well as whisky. Like abalone blood vodka.
After beginning with a bought-in Moo Brew wash, the Devil's Works now has a grain mill, steeping tanks, and a milk vat converted into a 1200 litre mash-tun as well as three double-skinned fermenters with heat pump temperature regulators. Initial trials used the ever-pleasant WT Distillers yeast, and draws on thousand-year-old water (after it is puts through a chlorine filter to remove any salts). Every whisky goes through the single, 1800-litre Bailly. It comes off at 70 per cent ABV. The distiller is ‘very judicious’ with his cuts and, he tells me, he ‘pulls out early’. In a week, after two wash runs and a spirit run the distillery fills one hogshead with malt spirit. The distillery put down its first whisky casks late in 2015, filling small (40L & 80L) ex-bourbon and ex-malt casks obtained through the Tas Cask Company from the famous Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram, New York State. Hinson also filled some 300-litre Hungarian European oak ex-fortified wine casks. The distillery takes up a fraction of the total Egg Board building. Coolroom temperature-controlled maturation would be possible. In fact, casks are racked two storeys high and will be rotated annually to have a year below the hot iron roof shell then a year at the cool concrete floor. Maturation is expected to be slow, with the Devil’s first release expected around 2018, but Hinson bottled some experimental quantities as Moonshine after just six months.