Friday, 20 April 2018

Unique new Tasmanian drink combines cider and whisky flavours

Two of Tasmania's iconic drinks producers have combined to create a unique new cider released this week. 

Innovative cider producer Willie Smith’s has joined award-winning Sullivans Cove distillery for its latest limited-edition special release; a whisky-aged cider. 

The Huon Valley cidery has worked with Sullivans Cove using hand-selected barrels to develop a complex product its hopes will excite the taste buds of craft cider connoisseurs.

It is the first collaboration between Willie Smith’s and Sullivans Cove, which have both
enjoyed recent international success.

Sullivans Cove won big at the World Whiskies Awards, with the World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt Whisky for 2018.

Willie Smith’s was lauded at the International Cider Awards in Spain late last
year, with its 2017 special release, Somerset Redstreak, winning the best traditional English
cider at the awards.

Willie Smith’s Head Cider Maker Dr Tim Jones said the collaboration was extremely

“One of the great things about working in the Tasmanian craft industry is the opportunity to
work with other like-minded, innovative producers,” Jones said.

“In this case, the opportunity to work with Sullivans Cove was very much well received by
the team and we are very excited to be able to work with such an iconic Tasmanian whisky

The barrels used were American oak, ex-bourbon casks that matured whisky for at least years. 

“We aged the best of our dry cider in their whisky casks for 16 months," said Jones. "What that did was combine the flavour of Sullivans Cove whisky with that of our cider, producing a very complex and unique product."

The 2018 limited-edition Special Reserve Willie Smith’s Whisky-Aged Cider was officially
unveiled in Melbourne and retails for $50 a 750ml bottle. 

Sullivans Cove Whisky-Aged Cider is available at the home of Willie Smith’s, the Willie
Smith’s Apple Shed, 2064 Huon Highway, Grove, Tasmania, or selected outlets and restaurants Australia wide. 

It is also available to purchase online at www.williesmith’

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Hunter magician takes his show on the road

Andrew Thomas is a pretty engaging character and one of the finest exponents of semillon and shiraz in the Hunter Valley. 
Now the gregarious Thomas is taking his show on the road for a series of lunches and dinners during May to mark the official launch of Thomas Wines range of 2016 shirazes.

"While all our 2016 shirazes are looking outstanding, the very limited quantities and cult following of Kiss Shiraz will ensure that it will be the talk of these events," says the man known to all and sundry as Thommo. 
The tasting extravaganzas will feature 10 wines (including some back vintage Kiss - think 2006, and 2013 in magnum) paired with four courses prepared by talented chefs.
The Kiss and Tell Tour includes events in Melbourne, Brisbane, North Sydney, Sydney (sold out but they might put you on the wait list) and Pokolbin throughout May.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Tasmanian wine lovers to pay tribute to industry pioneer

Moorilla and Domaine A will on Sunday celebrate the enormous contribution Peter and Ruth Althaus have made to Tasmania’s wine industry over close to three decades. And wine lovers are welcome to attend.

Moorilla, owned by MONA entrepreneur David Walsh, announced its purchase of Domaine A/Stoney Vineyard in February and will host an open day as "a chance for old and new friends of Domaine A to come together".

The Domaine A and Moorilla teams have been working together since the acquisition was made official.

"It seems right that the legacies created by two Tasmanian wine pioneers are now in the careful and capable hands of the same custodian,” said Domaine A sales manager Lauren Sheppard. 

"It’s easy to see the differences in the two businesses, but it’s the similarities that will ensure a successful transition. They’re both forward-thinking brands, who have a history of showcasing the beauty and benefits of Tasmania, and all it has to offer, to the world."

And in some ways the two wineries have always worked together.

When Peter Althaus took over the reins at Domain A in 1990 he expanded the vineyard with cuttings from around Tasmania.

Part of Domaine A’s “D Block” started from cabernet cuttings from Moorilla.

“We recognise Domaine A/Stoney Vineyard as a cornerstone of quality Tasmanian winemaking and are delighted to now have it join our portfolio,” said Moorilla winemaker and general manager Conor van der Reest.

“Moorilla and Domaine A are both very much focused on making wines that truly show what Tasmania and our individual vineyards have to offer.

“We look forward to working with Peter and Ruth to make sure we protect the integrity of this brand that has such a loyal and well-deserved customer base.”

Retiring Domaine A winemaker Peter Althaus has been at the helm of the business for almost three decades.

“My retirement and the decision to sell the business was certainly not an easy one, but from many interested parties (both local and international) I am confident I have chosen the right organisation, winemaker and people to maintain my label’s integrities and qualities," he said.

“In keeping with my ethos of winemaking and business, this decision had very little to do with money! It was, most importantly, about feeling assured that the legacy I have built will be in the hands of the appropriate custodians.”

The Open Day on Sunday will run from 11am to 4pm at the Domaine A/Stoney Vineyard, 105 Tea Tree Road, Campania in the Coal River Valley. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A new Tasmanian drink - and it is not a wine or a whisky

Tasmania is known for having some of the clearest air and cleanest water in the world - hence the birth of Tasmanian Springs water. 

Tasmanian Springs is collected by Tasmanian Mountain Waters from a natural single source spring flowing to the surface at an amazing 33 million litres every day, providing consistent and balanced mineral content.

Bottled only with oxygen to sterilise, Tasmanian Springs adopts a chemical free policy so drinkers can be sure of a safe product, says distributor Damon Wecker.

The waters are available in 10-litre and 5-litre casks, as well as 750ml bottles, all designed by local Launceston company Walker Designs.

I liked the sparkling mineral water a lot, with its well-sized bubbles and refreshing minerally zestiness.  

For details, check out

Monday, 16 April 2018

Swiss cities lay out red carpet for tourists

While countries like Japan and cities like Toronto have recently imposed extra taxes on visitors, sever of the major cities in Switzerland lay out a red carpet for tourists with free transport and entry to local attractions. 

Hotel bookings in a number of major Swiss cities come with complimentary local travel cards and maps - which can mean a serious saving. 

The city cards provide travellers with free access to not only each city’s public transportation network, including the buses, trains and boats; but in certain cities, experiential activities as well.

The delightful city of Bern
Here are five examples: 

Basel Card
Apart from unlimited access to the city’s public trains and buses, the Basel Card gives holders access to free wifii at 17 hotspots around the city; one ferry ride; and 50% off admissions to Basel Zoo, Theatre Basel, a two-hour sight-seeing bus, a walking tour of old town and scheduled river cruises.

Bern Ticket
This not only offers hotel guests free travel on city public transportation, but also airport transfers, rides on the Gurten Mountain Funicular, the funicular Marzilibahn and the elevator to the Minster terrace.

Lucerne Mobility Card
This card entitles hotel guests to free travel on the city’s trains and buses for the duration of their stay. 

Lausanne Transport Card
This allows holders up to 15 days of free travel while staying in any hotel in Lausanne. The card also grants holders discounts at selected shops, eateries, cinemas and theatres, nightclubs and museums. 
Montreux overlooks Lake Geneva 
Montreux Riviera Card
As well as free travel, this card offers holders a complimentary welcome drink at the Montreux-Vevey Tourism office, 50% off the city walking tours in Montreux and Vevey, and on a number of rail journeys, cruises and activities in the Lake Geneva Region.

Each person on the hotel booking will be given their own city card detailing the arrival and departure dates  For more information see

Meet the tourist destination that is closing because it became too popular

On April 26, one of the most popular resort destinations in the Philippines will shut its doors after becoming too popular.

Boracay will go into virtual lockdown and will be manned by hundreds of riot police during its closure for rehabilitation.

And there could be a permanent cap on the number of visitors to Boracay when the island reopens after its expected six-month closure. 

The island closes for a rehabilitation project later this month after capacity has risen from 25,000 in 2008 to an estimated 75,000. Infrastructure was unable to cope and the beautiful island was described as "a cesspool". 
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo confirmed a maximum cap on arrivals is being considered and said several mega projects announced for the island before the decision was made to close it down may now be in jeopardy.
These include a $500 million casino resort and a 1,000-room beachfront hotel.

Teo also said the country's tourism target of 7.5 million arrivals this year remains unchanged despite Boracay's closure.

"We will work on it. The target will still be the same. Let's not think that there will be no more tourism when Boracay is closed. Actually, there are still a lot of tourism products that we can offer."
The Government said it was prepared to suffer a blow to tourism by closing Boracay for a massive clean-up that would include improvements to roads, sewerage treatment and waste disposal.
“We have to swallow the bitter pill if we wish to sustain and protect the island of Boracay,” assistant secretary for tourism Frederick Alegre said.
“It is a temporary setback but we will recover the glory days of Boracay.”

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Welcome to Las Vegas. Would you like a spliff or two?

I had a lunch meeting with the Las Vegas tourism people in Sydney a couple of months ago. We were talking about what is new in Nevada. 

Strangely, they did not mention that it is now legal to buy and use marijuana. So legal, in fact, that the local professional soccer team is sponsored by a marijuana dispensary.

The Las Vegas Lights (who play in the second-level USL professional soccer competition), announced this weekend that they were lighting up with NuWu Cannabis. 

The Lights have made history by becoming the first professional sports team in the U.S. to team up with a 24-hour drive-in marijuana business.

“The good people of Nevada voted in support of it, and we are in support of Las Vegas. We are in support of Downtown Las Vegas. We are in support of our neighbors,” said Brett Lashbrook, the team owner and CEO. 
Lashbrook added that although marijuana is a completely legalized and regulated, he still sees a stigma attached to the industry and hopes that this partnership will help normalize it.
Even though NuWu sponsors the team and has a large display at the ground, it is still against the law for marijuana to be sold or consumed at games. 

In fact, the 43 million tourists visiting the city each year can buy the product, but there are few places, other than private homes, where someone can legally light up a joint.
In Nevada, and the seven other US states that allow people to consume marijuana for fun, it’s typically illegal to smoke or ingest the drug in dispensaries, bars, restaurants, city parks and public streets. Hotels and landlords often ban people from using the drug on their property.
NuWu Cannabis Marketplace, just a couple of blocks off the strip, boasts on its website that it offers "hundreds of marijuana products and paraphernalia and is the "largest recreational marijuana store on the planet!"