Old Kempton Distillery

Old Kempton Distillery

Tasmanian Single Malt from a Bill Lark-inspired Hidden Gem

Established in 2012 by Peter and Elizabeth Hope and family, the operation began in the Derwent Valley as Redlands Estate. The aim was to produce a true paddock-to-bottle single malt whisky—a Tasmanian Kilchoman. Joining them as investors and consultants to help them achieve this were industry stalwarts, Bill and Lyn Lark. In 2015, the distillery took an opportunity to move to the heritage-listed Dysart House in Kempton, less than an hour north of Hobart. They renamed their distillery Old Kempton in honour of their new, old home. 

The man behind the still is distiller Rob Tyson. Tyson has worked in the Tasmanian Whisky trade since his Uni days, starting behind the bar at the Lark Distillery and staying with them for the next 10 years. During his tenure, Tyson worked in every facet of the business, from cellar door to operations, to distillation, before, at the request of Bill Lark himself, graduating to the role of Head Distiller at Old Kempton in early 2021.

Like the majority of Whisky producers in Tasmania, Old Kempton purchases their wash from a brewery. Unlike most, Tyson works very closely with the brewer—Last Rites in Cambridge, Tasmania (also the source for the Sullivan’s Cove wash)—and specifies grain selection, yeast selection and fermentation times. Significantly, Tyson is moving brewing in-house in the coming months, a decision made easier because his off-sider Nick has a brewing background in Brisbane (White Lies in QLD). This is an essential step for Old Kempton’s fermentation equals flavour ethos. Utilising local water and local barley and fermenting in-house will allow them to better “capture their time and place” and further refine the Old Kempton style. 

Old Kempton uses only Tasmanian-grown and malted barley and has what Tyson describes as a “fairly traditional approach” to distillation. Double distillation is in Knapp Lewer copper pot stills (one of Australia’s few makers of copper stills) that take through the heavy oils—a signature of the Old Kempton style—and maturation almost exclusively takes place, from start to finish, in the nominated cask, rather than just finishing. 

Until now, Old Kempton has remained something of a hidden gem on the Tassie Whisky scene. Frankly, their spirits are far too good not to reach a wider audience. The Old Stables recently brought home the award for Best Australian Small Batch Single Malt Whisky at the 2022 World Whisky Awards.

Tyson’s deep understanding of the need for different approaches for different cask programmes is central to the character and quality of Old Kempton Whiskies. The distilling team works closely with cooperages and winemakers to source the highest quality casks. The inventory is roughly one-third ex-Australian Tawny, one-third Bourbon and, unusually, one-third Pinot Noir, with some room for discretionary inclusion of Sherry, Rum and Tokay as they crop up. The Pinot Noir casks are primarily sourced from Stefano Lubiana and Frogmore Creek. Seppeltsfield and Yalumba provide the lion’s share of the Tawny casks, and it’s the usual suspects for the Bourbon casks; Jack Daniels, Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey, among others. Most of the barrels get a light shave, a medium toast and a heavy char before use. 

The Old Kempton Whisky range is all Single Malt. The Old Stables and the Cask Strength Coachhouse represent the house-style Whiskies, incorporating a range of different casks to highlight the rich malt character of the Old Kempton spirit. Then there is the Classic Range comprising Ex-Port and Ex-Pinot Noir cask Single Malts. And finally, there is the Solera Cask Single Malt, currently drawn from a 500-litre Portuguese Port cask.

Alongside the Whisky programme, Old Kempton also crafts a range of small-batch Gins, named after William Henry Ellis. Ellis was sent from England to Australia in 1825 following a conviction for embezzlement. He arrived in Tasmania, and by all accounts married rather well, going on to build the Dysart House that is now home to the Old Kempton Distillery. There are three Gins in the range: a London Dry style, a fruity summer style and a barrel-aged Gin. Finally, two delicious liqueurs—an apple and a lavender malt—are made from Tasmanian ingredients to perfectly capture seasonality and place.

Best Australian Small Batch Single Malt Whisky, 2022 World Whisky Awards

Old Kempton Distillery

Sort By

Sort

Filter By

Filter By

$
$

Sort By

Sort
Welcome