After 2 weeks Under Down Under, our third trip there, what did we learn?
1) Alcohol Tourism works great!
We knew we could follow wineries, but they aren’t everywhere on the island, and there’s only so much wine you can buy. We found breweries and distilleries to round out the experience, and learned a lot about Tasmanian beer and whiskey in the process.
2) Craft Tasmanian whiskey is freaking expensive.
We knew Australia taxes on the percentage of alcohol in spirits, but that still didn’t prepare us for the sticker-shock. Hellyers Road, Nant, Lark, and Redlands distilleries all offer fine whiskeys. It’s possible we are not sufficiently discerning whiskey drinkers to appreciate the subtlety, but to our palates, the Tasmanians whiskeys (starting at $70 for a bottle) were not particularly remarkable. Delicious, yes. Superior to Jameson? No. We’re just as happy to wait until we get back to the States to make our whiskey purchases.
Moo Brew at MONA and Iron House both had large, glass-encased, modern facilities to highlight their beer. Seven Sheds was more our style – hidden away in a retrofitted barn on a side road in a small town. While we know craft beer can be trendy, we haven’t encountered many posh craft beer establishments in the U. S. Perhaps Destihl in Champagne, IL, comes closest. Most craft beer in the U. S. is brewed by iconoclasts: rugged, bearded guys and rugged, unbearded but nevertheless anti-establishment gals. It seems like the beermakers in Tassie are striving for what the distilleries and some of the wineries show: posh. Which is fine, but not our thing.
4) Revisited wineries confirm our preferences.
We have visited many Tasmanian wineries in the past. We visited most of them again on this trip, as well as some new ones like Nandroya, and confirmed that we just like them. Panorama, Freycinet, and Wilmot Hills consistently produce wines we have enjoyed for years. The owner of Wilmot Hills remembered us from our last visit, introduced us to his wife, and spoke with us about our repeat trips to the island. This is a great element of nostalgia tourism – going back to places you have been before, because they are known and comfortable, and give you warm fuzzies.
Our lodging choices this trip were almost identical to those we have made in the past. The owner’s father at the hotel in Triabunna admonished us, when asking for a twin bed room, “Don’t be sneaking over to the other bed,” similar to the off-color remark we got from him last time: “Would you like a shagging room or a non-shagging room?”. We have learned that distances are not so far, so we could backtrack from the Weldborough Hotel to hit a hike we fancied, and we could comfortably schedule 4 hour hikes on many days. And we learned that there are still waterfalls to see, and paths to explore, and new wineries and breweries to discover, after so many visits.
-Erik & Susan