TOCA (Tas) visit to McHenrys - SUNDAY 2 May 2021
12th May 2021
By Dick Friend
TOCA distils an educational fermentation, culinary adventure, sensory evaluation and scenic splendour into a fun day with a few surprises...
MAY DAY MAY DAY 2021 was an emergency of sorts in Tasmania, with a snap election designed to return a solid stable majority that day returning (at best) an unstable majority of one, with more emergencies in the wind.
In clouded cloudy conditions the next morning we set off at 10am from the Hobart waterfront in convoy over the Tasman Bridge eastward to the Dunalley Canal (whose swing Bridge grid vibrations provide a spine-tingling thrill, even in a Tesla) and then to Bangor Vineyard - https://bangorshed.com.au - for fresh local oysters from Blackman Bay.
Lead driver Dick had been too easily distracted by his guest Don and failed to maintain allowable speeds - now, with coffee on board and gorgeous Bangor wines purchased for upcoming lunch, Rob led the charge to the Eaglehawk Neck lookout, where we briefly paused to view the rugged eastern coastline of the Tasman Peninsular.
Port Arthur was passed by 12.30pm and we climbed the foothills of Mt Arthur to the McHenry Distillery - https://mchenrydistillery.com.au - where we where guided through the facilities housing the artefacts of brewing, distilling and maturation - the three essential steps in making gin, whisky and other spirits.
We tasted the raw spirit brewed on premise in smoked and unsmoked forms and learnt how what is then essentially vodka becomes gin after addition of botanicals which, for gin, has to include juniper. Copper stills are vital in providing binding of impurities in the sort which can then be removed during distillation. McHenry’s produce a full range of spirits, with a big commitment to quality and ageing. Here’s a barrel filled exactly seven years to the day before our visit.
Declining the offer to be ferried in 4WDs to the summit for lunch, we all drove our Teslas, but before much a distillery demonstration had been orchestrated by Charles with a secret ingredient. The one child (others may suggest others were childish) was invited to chop up some Musk Sticks to add to the distillation - and to give a new meaning to “pink gin”!
Glorious sunshine drenched upon the distillery deck while the brew bubbled and, while some educated themselves with tastes of various McHenry spirits, others enjoyed a wine or ginger beer, while we awaited a taste of our unique MUSK GIN.
Now musk flavour was originally originally derived from the nether portions of a deer (in fact, the word musk originated from Sanskrit muská meaning ‘testicle’) but today plant-based musks are generally used - ensuring the vegetarians present were not excluded from the tasting. The consensus was we needed more of our “secret" ingredient to our experimental Musk Gin which, while elegant and palatable, needed more muskiness to live up to its name.
McHenry’s seemed disappointed that no-one used or required use of their 2 Tesla destination chargers but, for those who wish to travel from further afield they can get charged, and stay high, at the elevated on-site Devil’s Lair accommodation.
Before leaving it appeared a miniature Space X missile landed securely near us, and the Telerati gathered to welcome the emergence of their hero, waving their Musk Sticks in the air expectantly. No show, but regardless we went home happy after a vote of thanks to our hosts Charles & William, and fortified by products from their stores!
All made their way home safely while enjoying the ethereal late-afternoon light over Norfolk Bay.
Julie Hayes & Dick Friend (with guests Don & Barb)
Dave Connell & Shan & Aidan
Rob & Debbie Manson
Kate Johnstone & Damian Hope
John & Angelica Anderson