Paddock-to-bottle whisky-making was so powerful and beguiling an idea, it took on a life of its own—told and retold for years—even though it never happened at Kempton.
Redlands ceased paddock to bottle whisky making in 2014. The distiller was upfront to me about this, but the distillery did not stop repeating the claim elsewhere—and even after the distillery moved to Kempton in 2016 where paddock to bottle making was impossible the process was continually described. My text exposed the sham, but after it was "edited", the published text tends, if anything, to reinforce the myth.
The Corrected Text
When the world-whirling whisky writer Jim Murray visited old Redlands at Plenty in February 2014 he thought he was being shown historic buildings put to use producing a whisky ‘the way it would have been made in Scotland 150 years ago’, and he felt, he said, the old hairs going up on the back of his neck. Murray told Pip Courtney on the ABC’s Landline radio program, ‘There's a lot of room for me to get cynical, but when I see things like that... It is absolutely wonderful to see.’ He was convinced Redlands was making paddock to bottle whisky. He saw paddocks and bottles, but by that time Redlands had in fact abandoned paddock to bottle making.
In 2015 Redlands Distillery removed from Redlands Estate farm in Plenty to a very different home thirty kilometres away: the dray-house beside an 1840s residence on Kempton’s main street. Here, Redlands no longer owned a farm, paddocks, agricultural equipment or silos. (It later transpired that they didn't own the name "Redlands Distillery" either—oops!) Inside their distillery there were no steeping tanks, no malt floor or kiln, no grist mill, no mash tuns and no fermenters. Just a still. The old Redlands 900-litre still—somewhat blackened after being accidentally run dry—stood on the dirt where carts once parked. Thousand-litre "cubes" filled with wash from Hobart breweries squatted outside. The spirit distilled from that purchased, imported, wash is what is barrelled and bonded in the stables behind.
Surely, I asked [in 2015], the paddock-to-bottle story would have to change now?
‘Oh, yes,' Robbie Gilligan replied. 'When those fourteen [old Redlands] paddock-to-bottle barrels are done everything will be changed. The labels will be changed, marketing will be changing—and we will then promote the fact that we are going back to being paddock-to-bottle.’
Redlands at Kempton has not produced one single drop of paddock to bottle whisky yet the marketing story never ended.
In 2016, Holly Seidewand, a visiting writer from America republished the claim online (links opposite). Under protest from Peter Bignell and others Holly re-cast her story. I too corresponded with her about how she came to her false conclusion, but she would not explain the circumstances or share her interview notes.
In 2017 a paragraph in Jetstar's airline magazine repeated the claim.
In 2018 the web still carries numerous references to the claim.
Redlands responds that they are not responsible for the mistakes of others but they could tweak the continuing source of the confusion: the industry-controlled website Tasmanian Whisky Trail. It was still telling the good old lie in 2018.
“Paddock-to-bottle” began as a dream steeped in Hope. Distilled once, it aged into a boast that, at Kempton, was expressed without substance for years.