Articles by: LEADWEST LTD

Posted on: 20 Apr, 2016

Melbourne’s weather a key factor for New World Whiskey


Six years ago, the New World Whiskey Distillery started producing whisky out of its headquarters in a former Qantas maintenance hangar in Essendon Fields. The aim was to embrace innovation and avoid being constrained by the ‘old world’ way of doing things. Today the Distillery is winning international awards, most recently Best Craft Distiller Whiskey and a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco Global Spirits Competition.

Together with investors, David Vitale, Managing Director of New World Whiskey Distillery began start-up activities in 2004. They decided to build the business in a way that would not be constrained, where possible, by the old world way of doing things and have this reflected into the final product. The company’s motto was ‘a whisky unshackled from tradition needs to play to the strengths of the place and the people making it’.

Since then the New World team has been constantly developing their brewing, distilling and maturation techniques while observing the influence of time, place and the natural elements.

David explained that a key factor in their success is due our city’s famously variable weather.

"Melbourne’s weather is certainly our secret weapon. Extreme temperature variations like the ones we’ve had recently cause our whisky liquid to expand and contract quickly inside the barrels. So whiskies like ours only need two-and-a-half to three years to mature. Whiskies from cooler, more stable climates usually need at least four. So we have a big time-to-market advantage."

There have been some challenges along the way for New World, including sourcing barley for production. There is an abundance of barley in Australia due to the magnitude of the beer brewing that takes place, but it is not suitable for whisky distilling.  David had to work hard to find a solution.

“Despite the low volume of barley we needed in comparison to the major breweries, producers were open to becoming engaged and involved in meeting our needs,” he said. “So even though demand of barley for whisky distilling is minuscule, they collaborated with us to find a workable solution. That’s been great.”

New World also had to be innovative to find the skills they needed to develop a world-class product.

“In comparison to the Australian beer and wine industries, whisky distilling is very small and so we don’t have the level and magnitude of competencies available to access. I worked hard to build key relationships,” added David. “I could see there was real value in collaborating with micro-breweries and wine producers to learn more from their practices. We developed relationships with overseas whisky producers and combining everything we learned, we developed in-house practices relevant to our product.

“To achieve three batches per day instead of two, we re-configured part of our process. We’re also working to maximise the climatic conditions in Melbourne, use all the available holding capacity for product ageing and minimise losses due to the higher evaporation in Melbourne. And we’re currently developing a ‘back-operation’ process, which is relevant and unique for our whisky product.”

New World Distillery currently produces nearly 1000 bottles of whisky per day, seven days each week, although they are not selling at that volume yet. They have established an export base in the UK and plan to double production in October. Next year they hope to break into the US export market.

"I'm very proud of the team and what we've achieved," says David. "We’ve worked hard and taken risks. Having our whiskies validated through international awards is a big plus and one that will build awareness for us globally."

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