Lark Single Tawny Cask
Pure, unfiltered and uncut, this is the pinnacle of Lark Single Malt. Get your hands on the long-awaited return of Lark Cask Strength Single Cask with two superb first-fill Tawny Port casks selected for the Club by Head Distiller Chris Thomson.Australia
Colour Ripe Acorn
Nose Freshly peeled orange and red grapes sit on top of brown sugar and oven baked apple danish. Roasted almonds and barbequed beef brisket compliments freshly polished shoes and earthy undertones.
Palate Sweet dry banana and burnt orange overlay rich butterscotch sauce. Stone fruit in the form of nectarine and plums start to dominate before a bowl of mixed nuts including hazelnuts, cashews and brazil nuts takes over.
Finish Opulent meets succulent. The cocoa driven dark chocolate matches the dry ginger and cold brew coffee fantastically as the lifted buttery oak chimes in and lingers on the tongue.
Widely regarded as some of the best whisky ever produced in Tasmania, Lark Single Cask showcases the essence of Tasmania’s founding distillery, and we’re honoured to herald the return of the legend with these two superb first-fill Tawny Port casks personally selected for the Club by Head Distiller Chris Thomson, as part of the ongoing collaboration between Australia’s biggest community of whisky lovers and Australia’s founding distillery.
But first, we need to rewind the clock a little.
Single Cask Lark is the liquid of legends - whisky aficionados are always reflecting on days when the big, bold, oily Single Casks were released. They were so popular that Lark ran short of stock and were not able to keep up with public demand. For nearly two years there was just a trickle of releases coming from Tasmania’s oldest distillery. These were focused on the core range, as Lark entered a phase of wanting to achieve both consistency and quality, moving away from Single Cask releases and into marriages for both their Classic Cask and Cask Strength.
Since then, Single Cask Lark at Cask Strength has been as rare as hens’ teeth, with only one other 100L Tawny Single Cask released at cask strength, and that was back in 2017.
Late in 2020, The Whisky Club had the fun of poking around inside Lark’s bond stores and sampling directly from the casks. It was from here that we found amazing casks that really showcased the pinnacle of Lark at their Coal Valley distillery site. Whisky that had spent its entire life in 100L ex Tawny casks from Seppeltsfield in the Barossa since 2014, made up of 50% lightly peated barley, distilled in the oldest copper pot stills in Tasmania and left to rest among hundreds of other casks.
From these, Chris Thomson selected Casks LD1162 and LD1063 to be bottled at natural cask strength, 60.3% and 61.7% ABV. They’re trademark big, oily Lark, just like the Godfather himself designed it. The whisky will take you on a trip down memory lane from the first sip to finish; freshly peeled orange and brown sugar coax the nose while butterscotch and plums settle on the palate, unfolding into a luscious long finish of dark chocolate and buttery oak.
This is straight-up classic Lark, and you won’t find it anywhere else but the Club, so don’t miss your only chance to taste it.
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Bottle size: 500ml
Age: 6 Years Old
ABV: 60.3% and 61.7%
Maturation: Fully matured in first-fill Seppeltsfield Tawny casks
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The story of Lark Distillery is, in essence, so much more than that of just the distillery itself – it forms the genesis of the modern Australian whisky industry as we know it.
Back in the 1800s, the powers-that-be saw Tasmania as being somewhat of a “breadbasket” for the rest of the colonies - its perfect farmlands ideal for growing barley - but why bake bread when you can make whisky, right? The Sorell Distillery on the banks of the Hobart Rivulet was the first to open in 1822, closely followed by an ever growing number of distilleries keen to peddle their wares to the booming population (many of whom had come over as convicts) who, let’s just say, enjoyed a drink or three. It wasn’t long before there were at least 16 legal distilleries (and who knows how many illegal ones) in operation in Tasmania.
As the story goes, in 1838 the wife of Tasmanian Governor John Franklin and resident killjoy Lady Jane Franklin stated “I would prefer barley be fed to pigs, than it be used to turn men into swine”. And with that, in an effort to maintain domestic peace and harmony, the Guv immediately outlawed the distilling of spirits in Tasmania, and it was all over for the local industry.
With Australia’s Federation at the turn of the century, the Distillation Act of 1901 allowed some opportunities for those in the fortified wine game, but given the minimum legal still size was around 2700 litres, it was not such an easy proposition to set yourself up as a craft spirit producer. There’s little doubt some moonshiners remained in operation, but it was going to be another century before we’d actually see any legitimate whisky come out of Tasmania.
Fast-forward to 1989, and a chap by the name of Bill Lark went on a trout fishing trip in Tasmania’s Highlands with his father-in-law, Max. Enjoying a dram in a park in Bothwell, taking in the sights of the Georgian buildings, barley fields and the Clyde River, Bill questioned why nobody was making malt whisky in Tasmania – after all, not only is the climate perfect, there’s an abundance of crystal-clear water, locally grown barley and peat bogs. It just seemed logical. So, Bill being Bill set out to have a go, but upon applying for a license, discovered Lady Jane’s law was still in place.
Undaunted, he contacted his local MP and before long the law was abolished, allowing Lark Distillery to be formed in 1992, paving the way for the modern Australian whisky industry as we know it. Hot on the heels of Lark came Small Concern Distillery (1992), Sullivans Cove (1994) and Hellyers Road (1999) in Tasmania. Together these distilleries forged ahead and were joined along the way by others including Nant, Overeem, Belgrove and McHenry, and in recent years Old Kempton, Shene, Spring Bay, Fannys Bay, Adams, Launceston and Killara to name only a few of the forty or so (that’s almost as many as Speyside!) distilleries that make Tasmania the whisky isle of the south.
So, what came out of your last fishing trip?
Lark has continued to grow over the years, having progressed from a still found at a garage sale on Bill’s kitchen bench, to a large facility in the heart of one of Tasmanian’s best known wine regions, Coal River Valley, just a stone’s throw from Sullivans Cove Distillery.
While Lark is renowned for using Australian fortified wine casks to deliver a rich, fruity and oily mouthfeel in their whisky, they also have the only official access to a peat bog in Tasmania. Every couple of months Lark drive the 5 hour return trip up to the peat bog, located in the very centre of Tasmania, 730 metres above sea level, and hand shovel the peat into a trailer ready for smoking back at the distillery. Being in the highlands of Tasmania, Lark stock up on peat runs before wintertime because the peat bog would be covered by a thick layer of snow during the coldest part of the year.
One thing that Lark distillery did which was extremely unique was to smoke the barley after it had already been malted. This post malt smoking was done by wetting the barley and then burning the peat below it so when the barley dried out, it would suck in the smoke during the process. For the better part of a decade and a half, Lark relied on a small peat smoker which could only take 90kg of malt at a time and would take 8 hours for the barley inside to dry out. With the increased production coming out of the distillery, Lark also increased its peated malt capacity by creating an engineering masterpiece and first of its kind peat smoker. This increase has taken the peated malt production from just 180kgs (two runs) to up to 2 tonnes in a day.
They brew their own wash on site, using Tasmanian grown barley, which is fermented for 7 days before being run through the stills. The distillery features two 1800 litre wash stills and two 600 litre spirit stills which run 7 days a week. Looking at the size of the stills in use by Lark today, it’s no wonder the minimum 2700 litre size specified by the Distillation Act of 1901 made it impossible for anyone to be in the business back then...
The new make spirit is then broken down from 72% to 63.4% ABV with ultra-filtered water and transferred to 100 litre Australian Port, Apera and 200 litre American Bourbon oak casks where it’s left for anywhere between 4 and 10 years before being released to the public.
Each of the locally sourced casks is checked for quality by the head distiller Chris Thomson, who allocates each parcel of casks to a release. After maturation, the casks are married together ensuring each release of Lark whisky fits within their house style, or are tailored for limited releases, like our Whisky Club Exclusive releases.
Origin: 40 Denholms Rd, Cambridge TAS 7170
Water Source: Meadowbank Dam
Washbacks: 23 x 2000L stainless steel
Stills: 4, 2 wash and 2 spirit
Capacity: 150,000 litres per annum