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McLaren Vale sees opening of whisky distillery

A new AUS$2.5m distillery in McLaren Vale will begin operation this month with the hope of releasing its first single malt in two years’ time.

McLaren Vale Distillery’s general manager, John Rochfort third from left with his team.
Photo: John Krüger

Access to “high quality” local barrels was one of the main reasons general manager, John Rochfort chose McLaren Vale as the site for his distillery.

“We’ve selected some incredible South Australian barrels with amazing history, like a 90-year-old Muscat cask that continually held Muscat for the entire period of time – it was the same block of muscat every single season – and we’ve got our hands on some incredible port barrels as well,” he said.

Recently, India and Taiwan have emerged as leading warm climate whisky producers while the southern Australian island of Tasmania is Australia’s prime whisky-producing spot.

McLaren Vale is about 10km from the coast and is warmer than Tasmania but cooler than Bangalore and Taiwants Mediterranean climate has average maximum temperatures between 14C and 28C and average minimums between 7C and 16C.

Output at the McLaren Vale Distillery which has received a AUS$500,000 South Australian Government Regional Development Fund grant, is currently limited to processing 100 tonnes of barley a year.

“So we’re looking at around 20,000 litres in our first year and growing to a maximum of 50,000 litres by year five,” said Rochfort.

The range of whiskies will start with the McLaren Vale single malt at $120-$150, through to the Bloodstone Collection featuring the “best of the best” barrels from South Australia, ranging in price from AUS$500- AUS$1000.

“We would really like to see the single malts representing the regions of South Australia because each region has its own special wines and grain growing abilities and to be able to produce a single malt which is truly made up of that region’s input is the goal,” said Rochfort.

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