Rural Victoria is home to farmers, timber workers and a relatively new whisky-maker in the tiny country town of Timboon, writes Gregor Stronach
About three hours’ drive west of Melbourne lies a sleepy little country town, which about 1000 people call home. For years, the locals have been involved in the timber and dairy industries, with the town centre sprouting up to service the local farming community. And aside from producing footballer Paul Couch, who took home the Brownlow Medal in 1989 when he was playing footy for Geelong, the town of Timboon doesn’t have many claims to fame.
But for whisky aficionados, Timboon should be a town that is well and truly on the map, as it’s home to the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery where, under the watchful eye of Tim Marwood and his wife Caroline Simmons, traditional single malt whisky plus a range of other spirits are in production.
Tim and Caroline started off in the ice cream business, before deciding to turn their hand to distilling and putting together a venue that had more than just seasonal appeal. The result – the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, a venture that Tim says combines both a historical element, and a passion of his.
The history stems froma former local, the infamous Tom Delaney, an illegal still operator who was said to be producing 100 gallons of “Mountain Dew” whisky a week, back in the 1890s. Detective Inspector John Christie eventually shut Delaney down, but the legend of the local distillers lived on – and now Tim and Caroline have taken up the mantle.
Tim tells us that he uses a 600-litre copper still, which he had manufactured in Hobart, but because of space limitations, some of the operation is handled offsite. “We have a relationship with Otway Estate, a local microbrewer,” Tim says. “They brew the wash for us, which we then distill down into a malt.”
From there, Tim and Caroline prefer to take the route of small port cask maturation, in a variety of sizes between 20 and 90 litres. “By using those barrels, we can generate a spirit that has some nice flavour in a relatively short period of time,” Tim explains.
The result is the Timboon Single Malt. The first release did really well. “We picked up a silver medal at the Australian Malt Whisky Awards last year,” he says. “And we placed 14th out of 80 in the international section.” A sterling result for a still-young malt.
The current second release is on sale through three or four selected retail outlets in Melbourne and Canberra, but most of the sales are online. “Because we only have about 2500 litres maturing at the moment, and we’d rather just look after most of the sales ourselves.” You can expect to pay around $120 for a 500ml bottle, or $50 for a 200ml bottle.
That malt is described by Tim as having a gentle and inviting nose, with aromas of oak, caramel and butterscotch, along with milk chocolate and honey. On the palate, it’s a soft whisky, reminiscent of an Irish whisky, which benefits from a “wee dash” of water to open it up.
The easiest way to get your hands on a bottle is to visit the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery on Bailey Street, Timboon, where you can also sample the vodka, schnapps and other locally produced spirits – or visit www.timboondistillery.com and shop online. For more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.