CHARLES OATES DISTILLERY
Housed within the walls of Huon Valley's excellent Willie Smith's Cider Shed, Tim Jones, Jimi Anderson and Ronan Kavanagh are producing Huon Valley Apple Brandy that reminds us of Normandy but with a serious nod towards it's Huon Valley home.
Joining the ‘Apple Isle’s’ distilling scene a couple of years ago, Willie Smith’s produces Apple Brandy in Australia’s first purpose-built alembic copper still. Out of the guts of this beauty comes an aged apple brandy (similar in style to Calvados) that will warm you on the coldest Tassie night, and a lighter Charles Oates Apple Blanco that mixes beautifully into a whole bunch of cocktails.
Willie Smith’s, aside from heralding one of Tasmania’s most iconic products - the humble apple - owes its existence to Australia’s convict history. In 1844 Charles Oates stole a sheep over in England and found himself in Tasmania to serve out his sentence. Oates’ pioneering ways left an indelible mark on the Huon Valley and Willie Smith's has now paid homage to his legacy through their products which are also tangibly linked to the region.
Producing a small but mighty portfolio of brandy’s under the Charles Oates brand is a testament to Willie Smith’s primary production in apple cider. Their Apple Brandy is a bi-product containing pressed juice from the orchard in the Huon Valley that is also used in their renowned cider.
This idea of upholding historical significance and bringing it into a new and timely relevance is not something Willie Smith’s limits to its products alone. The methodology they have employed to distill in a traditional alembic still has also been modified to evolve the distilling process to essentially produce a product that retains all the expectations of a top shelf Calvados, yet with a distinctly modern Tasmanian taste pertaining to the purity of the apples used. Rounding off the process is the clever consideration to waste and the ’s’ word - sustainability. If a brandy batch is anything less than perfect the product can be redeemed and resold as cider. Win win!