Listed by the National Trust, Nant Estate is a private country estate at Bothwell, a Georgian farm complex with homestead, mill, bakery, stables and barns, many of them sandstone and convict built, on beautiful farming land where the Clyde River meanders tranquilly.
Nant Estate Bothwell: Merging Whisky & Tasmanian History
Edward Nicholas was the first European settler in the Bothwell region. Edward Nicholas had chartered the ship ‘Grace’, and along with some family he arrived in Van Dieman’s Land in August 1821 with workmen, machinery and seeds to the value of 1800 pounds, for which he was granted 1800 acres of land in an area then known as Bark Hut Plains on the Fat Doe River (now Clyde River).
He named his property ‘Nant’, a word meaning ‘a valley’, after his family home he left behind in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, in South Wales. By 1825 the first flour mill on Nant was built to serve the property. The present mill was built in 1857 (according to a date stone set in one of the walls) to replace the previous mill, and operated till 1890. It is this mill which still stands today, now restored and home to the fascinating water powered Nant Whisky Distillery.
Restoration of the Water-driven Mill…
Work began on restoration of the historic sandstone water-driven mill back in 2005, and with financial assistance from the Tasmanian Heritage Council, the mill now stands today fully restored. A dedicated team of professionals worked at restoring the old mill, which had lain idle since 1897. Many of the original parts have been retained, millwright Peter Bignell hand chiselled the worn-out timber teeth and restored the original French Burr millstones which were brought out by the Nicholas family in 1821. The restoration was completed in 2008. Today this sandstone mill, with original three floors and gabled shingle roof is operated as it was traditionally.
The Age Old Whisky Making Process used at Nant Today
The Nant Single Malt whisky is produced using the age old traditional gristing and pot still distillation methods. Each week malted barley is gristed (ground) in readiness for the mashing stages of the whisky production. The clear cool waters of the Central Highlands flow down through the Clyde River, where at the mill they bring the old waterwheel to life. Grain arrives to the millstones via timber hoppers, here it is ground to a fine grist (like a course flour). Ropes, just the same way it was done by Edward Nicholas back in the 1800’s, are used to lower the bags of grist through trap doors in the floor, to the next floor in readiness for the brewing and distilling process.
The next part of the distilling process is done using the old traditions of combining the water, yeast and barley. The grist is mixed with hot water in mash tanks to fully convert the remaining starches before the fermentable sugars are dissolved into liquid. This produces the ‘wort’, which is then cooled and mixed with yeast in a tank called a ‘washback’. This starts the fermentation process. The result is a malt liquor called ‘the wash’. The wash is then distilled, here the vapours and other ‘volatile’ compounds separate out from the water.
From brewing to distilling, this full process takes about 7 days. The clear distilled spirit is then stored in casks, American and French oak casks which have previously held port, sherry or bourbon. The casks are then stored on the estate in convict built sandstone buildings that have stood for over 180 years, to mature in readiness for bottling and labelling.
Nant Whisky Barrel Investment Opportunity…
Nant Whisky also offers a whisky investment opportunity. Here at Nant Whisky, you can purchase your own 100-litre barrel of single malt whisky, stored at Nant Estate in government-registered bond stores. When mature (four to five years) you have a choice of selling the whisky back to the distillery for the agreed return on your purchase or retaining any portion for personal use. The distillery also offers bottling and labelling services. Each 100-litre barrel holds the equivalent of approximately 250 x 500 ml bottles of malt whisky at approximately 43% volume of alcohol and costs $5000 + GST. Each barrel has a unique identification number, the buyer receives a certificate of ownership and can visit to inspect their barrel upon appointment. Full details re barrel investment can be found on the Nant Distillery website.
One can visit the Cellar Door for a tasting of the Nant single malt, or fully guided tours of the restored Nant Water Mill and Whisky Distillery are available daily. Adjoining the mill is a magnificent Cellar Door Café, comprising a private tasting room, and a beautiful Atrium Lounge and Whisky Bar. Visitors can enjoy a dram of high quality Nant whisky in a magnificent old room, beautifully decorated with original artworks, antique and custom made furniture, where you will be lost in time, even the old fireplace is original!
Here Edward Nicholas once cooked on an open fire, the hooks that held the pots can still be seen hanging within the chimney. In the Atrium Lounge one can enjoy a first class meal, featuring home-grown Nant Estate produce…or maybe just sit out on the deck with your glass of whisky and admire the magical views of Nant Estate as the sparkling waters of the beautiful river meander by.
Note ~ we must extend a very sincere thank you to Cellar Door Manager, Phil Gordon, who so kindly gave us our tour of this fascinating whisky distillery and answered our every question. Neither Kev nor I are whisky connoisseurs, but I have to say the whisky tasted great, and the tour of this distillery was nothing short of awesome.
All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
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Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian.
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