NOT exactly a fruit or vegetable product, although apparently a Pinot Noir–flavoured whisky was released recently.
I confess – I prefer my Pinot straight.
Having said that, you’ll be interested to learn, and I was pleased to read, that Hellyers Road Distillery in Burnie has been named the Tasmanian Exporter of the Year.
As a result, it will be a Tasmanian finalist in the Australian Export Awards Ceremony, to be held in Canberra in December.
Mark Littler, the Hellyers Road general manager and master distiller, is understandably also pleased:
“We believe we’re by far the nation’s highest selling whisky around the world,” he said in an interview with another quality Fairfax publication, The Advocate.
I take pride in this.
Many years ago, in a previous life as chief of pastures and field crops in the state Department, I was heavily involved in promoting Franklin barley which had been bred by Wayne Vertigan, the department’s cereal breeder.
At that time (the early 90s), all barley was imported into Tasmania by the Grain Elevators Board, but Franklin barley was in a class of its own.
The minimum malt extract for malting barley to be commercially viable is 75 per cent.
Franklin is always around 85pc and has gone as high as 87pc.
Because of this, it sells at a premium price.
It was a challenge to turn the Board back to front for export but we managed it.
We filled up the bulk carrier MV Express, it set sail for WA, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kirin Brewery there was the initial buyer, and Hellyers Distillery in Tasmania came soon after.
It’s salutary to reflect on how the Department has changed.
In those days, there were extension officers with a remit to work to improve the performance of farmers and industry.
The extension officers have disappeared and from recent experience the Department is not particularly welcoming.
It is obvious that biosecurity is top priority, as discussed in a previous column, so presumably improving performance is now up to consultants.
And, if you believe the latest hoarding as you leave Devonport Airport, the University.
This claims that it is “training the future workforce”.
That would include the brewing industry.
There was a time when “training” was never mentioned in Universities, not just the University of Tasmania.
“Education” was what it was all about.
There had to be sessions for training the science undergraduates how to titrate in chemistry, for example.
But far more important was The Greater Scheme of Things (Education) or as it says in the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary “a development of character or mental powers”.
Training was seen to be the prerogative of the technical colleges.
This is questionable in Tasmania, given the recent scandals in that sector, and the expensive failure of the private sector to fill the gap.
So, taking the latest hoarding at face value, this presents a real challenge to the university.
This implies that everyone in the future workforce will have a degree or a diploma.
Pigs have been known to fly.
- Dr Mike Walker is the Tasmanian correspondent for GFV. Contact him at: email@example.com