CRADLE MOUNTAIN DISTILLERY
Cradle Mountain Whisky has a long and colourful past of over 30 years, with several name changes, and variations in shareholdings and locations. The constant element, however, is the Cradle Mountain Whisky brand, which first became popular for a time under the ownership of The Small Concern Whisky Distillery Pty Ltd.
Cradle Mountain claims to be the first commercial whisky distillery in Australia of the new era, dating its foundation at Ulverstone in the Northwest of Tasmania, back to 1989. It was then known as the Darwin Distillery, a creation of Brian Poke, the well-known distilling consultant, who subsequently played a vital role in the distillery’s rebirth nearly 30 years later. The name was changed, briefly, to Franklin Distillery after the local barley strain of that name, before becoming The Small Concern, backed by a few local investors. The company again changed ownership and name when the Lahra family purchased the company “lock stock, websites and barrel”. After a chance tasting of the 17 year old Single Malt whisky while travelling overseas, Joe Lahra, now master distiller of the new era Cradle Mountain, declared that “the whisky was so good we immediately had to buy the company”.
Truth to be told, so good was the early product that in true coals to Newcastle fashion, one of the team of original investors had the temerity to turn up with samples of the spirit at the long-establish Scottish whisky house of Wm. Cadenhead (owned by Springbank Distillery), who quickly pronounced it fit to carry their very distinguished label. Frankly, this was a remarkable achievement.
That is all in the past and we celebrate here those pioneering days with some of the oldest locally bottled Tasmanian whiskies, plus a selection of the Cadenhead bottlings, the scarcity of which has been enhanced by the Cradle Mountain brand having been relaunched, albeit at its new location in the Tamar Valley, and using new equipment, but undoubtedly continuing the traditions of its original founders.