Charles Oates, the Mountain River man and an icon of the Huon Valley region, has been the inspiration for a pioneering new line of apple spirits that are being hand crafted by the makers of Willie Smith’s Cider under the banner of Charles Oates Distilling.
Charles Oates Fine Apple Brandy is created from distilling Willie Smith’s apple cider, meaning every bottle is filled with juice pressed from fruit grown at the orchard located in the Huon Valley.
Prior to commissioning their locally built Alembic still last year, the decision was made to work with Redlands Estate to distil the Cider. This spirit has been aged in a range of Tokay, Muscat, and Sherry barrels to develop a smooth and delicious brandy that the connoisseur of Calvados will not be able to resist.
“We are overwhelmed with how the product has turned out, it’s dark and rich colour and flavor is so exciting to see and taste, we can’t wait to bottle our small batches and share it with the people of Tasmania” says Dr. Tim Jones, Head Cider Maker & Distiller at Willie Smith’s & Charles Oates.
The creation and release of the Fine Apple Brandy and the focus on innovative, un-aged apple spirits are yet another way to celebrate the apple-growing history of the region.
Sam Reid, Co-founder of Willie Smith’s & Charles Oates Distilling tells us, “I first fell in love with Calvados (French Apple Brandy) when I was visiting France on a research trip four years ago. It’s an absolutely delicious spirit and I knew that it was something we just had to develop in Tasmania. The still enables us to make a traditional style Calvados whilst also improving the quality of our cider. Said Mr Reid.
‘If we produce a batch we’re not 100% comfortable releasing we can just distil it and make apple spirit. In this we’ve also found a way to reduce wastage in the cider making process, so it’s a win-win. “continued Mr Reid
Attending the launch was an impressive collection of Tasmanian’s who have displayed a pioneering spirit and have made a significant contribution to Tasmania and its story. Award-winning author and Calvados afficinado Richard Flanagan was presented with the first ever bottle and spoke of his first impression of the spirit…
“Tasmanian whisky makers have rightly established a global reputation for producing some of the world’s best whiskies,” Flanagan said. “But I suspect in years to come people will say the true spirit of Tasmania is its apple brandy. This first bottling is a brandy of superlative quality that can hold its own with the best French calvadoses, and yet has its own distinct Tasmanian character. It’s an astonishing feat, and anyone who can get hold of a bottle is going to count themselves lucky.”
Also in attendance were Matthew Evans & Sadie Chrestman from Fat Pig Farm, Daniel and Melanie Leesong from Coal River Farm, Casey & Grete Overeem and David Walsh and Kirsha Kaechele from MONA and Peter Bailly who designed and built the Alembic still.
“Launching this Fine Apple Brandy celebrates the pioneering spirit of Charles Oates by taking old world methodology and doing it in our own unique way.” says Mr. Reid
Charles Oates Fine Apple Brandy will be available in a 200ml and 350ml bottle exclusively at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed and in their online store from Monday the 10th of April. The stock will be strictly limited.
Charles Oates Fine Apple Brandy – Tasting Notes
Charles Oates was a man who pioneered a new way of life in the Huon Valley and became a true man of Mountain River. Arriving in Tasmania in 1844 to serve a sentence for sheep theft, he built an empire that is still evident in the Huon Valley today.
Drawing inspiration from Charles Oates pioneering spirit, we are on a journey to create uniquely Tasmanian spirits with our apples.
Using Willie Smith’s cider we stay true to the French methods by using our Tasmanian produced Charentais alembic still, the design used in Normandy (France) to produce the Calvados. The Charentais alembic still was designed in the early 16th Century in the Cognac region of France where it is still used for fine Cognac production.
Charles Oates Fine Apple Brandy; Muscat Barrel – 40% ABV
Carefully distilled in small batches, our Apple Brandy captures the pure apple flavours and aromas of pristine fruit grown in the misty valleys of Tasmania. This special single cask release has been aged in a 120 L hand selected Muscat barrel. It expresses rich and complex aromas of dried muscatels, cocoa and vanilla bean in combination with lifted fine apple notes. This rare and special spirit is best enjoyed by an open fire on a cold winters night.