That’s the case for two very different Tasmanian farms diversifying into alcohol production. At Lawrenny, a historic farm dating back to the 1800s, Ross Mace has been farming beef on Lawrenny since he bought it 20 years ago, but it’s never been big enough to make a good profit. “Right from a very early stage we looked to diversify and four years ago the idea of whisky distilling became a possibility,” he said.
Further south on the coast near Dunalley, the Daly family are running a very different operation. The family has been growing potatoes for 30 years, harvesting 6,000 tonnes per year. Their move into spirits, and in particular potato vodka, grew from a desire to use their reject potatoes. “We’re trying to aim for a no-waste farm,” Ruby Daly, the second generation of the farming family, said.
Twenty per cent of the Dalys’ annual harvest — or 1,200 tonnes of potatoes annually — are rejected because they’re not suitable for the supermarkets due to their shape or blemishes. Some rejects go into a new retail range of potato salads, some go to the cows for dinner, and now 10 per cent of the odd potatoes are going into vodka.