In a world-first project, distillers are hoping a high-tech, scientific approach can convert their “liquid gold” enterprise into a billion-dollar business.
The centre for excellence brings together Tasmania’s whisky industry and scientists from the University of Tasmania.
The effort will fine-tune how to grow the best barley for whisky, use real-time data to monitor growth and to refine the qualities that make Tasmanian whiskey so unique.
Distillers believe the project will be a game-changer.
“We can see that in the future, in the Derwent Valley, it can be a billion-dollar industry,” Redlands Estate distiller Peter Hope said.
“I know that sounds maybe far-fetched but it’s not.”
Mr Hope believes that barley, the key crop used in whisky making, will one day outstrip poppies as Tasmania’s richest crop.
“In Tasmania at the moment the most profitable crop you can grow is poppies,” he said.
“Well, in the system we’re talking about, barley will be the most profitable crop.”
The new project will see drones being used to survey the barley crop and spot disease.
Soil monitors will help distillers determine how best to balance moisture and temperature to get the best results.
The objective is to get the absolute best out of the all-important barley crop.
“The sustainable growing of what’s known as high-quality Tasmanian barley is very, very important for the future of our industry,” said Bill Lark of the Lark Distillery.
Researchers will also analyse the spirit to quantify what makes up a Tasmanian whisky’s taste.