Beer, they say, is a conversation; wine is a lecture. Well, whisky - I say - is a spell and as a writer I love spells but as a non-fiction author it is my duty to break them.
First published August 4
Five years ago I began work on what might see like a dream job: the story of whisky in Tasmania.
I was required to visit every distillery in Tasmania and drink a lot of whisky and get paid for it.
It was amazing because the story of whisky-making in Tasmania, it turns out, is the story of the beginning of whisky in Australia. Twice.
I discovered much that was beautiful, romantic and extraordinary and I wrote over 100,000 words. I created a map of Tasmania’s whisky landscape, a wheel of local whisky aromas, a Hall of Fame of landmark whisky expressions, I collected rare images and labels and I rediscovered Australia’s oldest whisky.
I also came to realise that whisky attracts rogues. Indeed, there would be and there can be no whisky without rogues.
And the more I learned, the more I questioned the portrayal of Tasmanian whisky — indeed, I came to question what “Tasmanian whisky” is. And the conclusion I reached was that no one is making Tasmanian whisky.
The more I wrote, the less some people in the industry wanted my work to be read.
Legal as well as veiled threats began to stalk the work and fear bedevilled its publication. Doors closed. People stopped talking to me. Stories began to be told about the messenger: me.
As an author I could have re-submitted, I could have entirely submitted and deleted everything that was asked to be deleted and many would thank me and some would cheer me up and who would know?
There is no day without night. The world is not a lily. For every good whisky, there’s a bad one. I believe that readers accept this and are entitled to know everything that goes into whisky so I began this blog to explore what goes into whisky. Some posts are stories of remarkable achievement, for it is not all hell for every one down here in the new Van Diemens Land — but other posts are of devious chicanery.
THE AUSTRALIAN’S MATT DENHOLM ...