We all know about New World wines, and we've probably been drinking them for many years. But what about New World whisky? There are not that many countries outside of the big whisky players that can wear a badge that states they're in the NWDC (New World Distillery Club).
Sweden, Switzerland, India, Taiwan, United States are some countries that are beginning to show us that they can create some astonishing liquid, and that they create it through subtle changes to their processes that complement the local climate.
Australia is a country that you'd not immediately associate with whisky. But they've actually been doing it for a few years. If you look into it in more detail, you'll start to notice that the production of Australian whisky is on the rise, with new distilleries appearing all over the continent. One of those trailblazers is Overeem Distillery who are located on the small island of Tasmania.
This unique CopperedWrench Q&A is with Overeem. They're a small whisky distillery located about 500km south of Melbourne, on the island of Tasmania, Australia. The Overeem distillery was originally founded back in 2007 by Casey Overeem, who, having had first-hand experience of distilling back in the '80s when he was in Norway, decided to lift and shift that skill and knowledge to a slightly different part of the world. And so was born, Overeem Distillery.
Today, Casey's Daughter, Jane Overeem leads the company along with her husband, Mark. They follow in the same footprints of Casey's original model - long fermentation times, unique equipment (seriously, look at those stunningly beautiful stills in the photos below), and doing things slightly differently to get the most of their unique location.
CopperedWrench was lucky enough to get some of Jane's time for a quick Q&A...
In less than 40 words, how would you describe Jane Overeem?
I’m very family orientated first and foremost, good times with family and friends is always a priority. I’m very active, incredibly motivated, and frustratingly fastidious about absolutely everything (according to my husband) which I think I get from my Dad!
How did you become involved with the whisky industry?
My father Casey Overeem founded Overeem Distillery in 2007 and I’ve been involved at various levels and in various positions ever since.
How long has Overeem been operating as a whisky distillery?
Overeem Distillery is recognised as one of the founding craft distilleries in the country - being the fourth distillery to begin production on the island of Tasmania.
New World whiskies - esp. Australian - are gaining more and more traction within the global industry. Why do you think it’s taken so long?
For Australia specifically, we’ve only really been producing whisky for the last 30 years and the majority of that production has been at an incredibly small scale. So, the problem has been and still is availability. Over the past decade, we’ve seen consumer confidence and interest in Australian Whisky skyrocket.
Does Overeem have its own house style?
Yes, absolutely. Tasmanian has rich oily barley, and some of the cleanest water in the world, so we leverage this as much as possible by placing a huge focus on new make spirit creation and our cask maturation environment. Long 168 hr fermentations, slow distillations and cool, dark bond stores with very little temperature fluctuations allow us to find this wonderful balance between cask and spirit resulting in a viscous, elegant single malt whisky with fantastic layers of flavours, of both cask and spirit.
What’s been the most important and significant award you have won?
There’s been a few that have had different levels of significance in our history. Regular liquid golds in Jim Murrays Whisky Bible, Best Australian Single Cask Single Malt in the World Whisky Awards, Best Small Batch Whisky - Tasting Australia Awards and recently Worlds Best Craft Producer of the Year 2021 with Dom Roskrows New Wizards of World Whisky Awards.
I bought a bottle of your Sherry Cask (43%) back in 2014, and was immediately floored by how good it was. How many sherry-cask whiskies do you now produce?
Our sherry cask matured whiskies are part of our core range of single malts. We produce both a distillers strength (43%abv) and a cask strength (60% abv) expression. All of our core range expressions are single cask, single malts and although possess slight variations
between releases, are incredibly consistent due to production, maturation and cask
Do certain types of cask compliment your spirit better than others? (i.e. Port, Bourbon, Sherry, wine etc.)
We think so, however, there is a fairly even split between the popularity of expressions, suggesting that these 3 cask varieties, which are our core focus, work very well with the new make spirit we produce. In saying this, we have had a small special cask program in place for the last 4 years, where we are monitoring full cask maturations in different cask varieties and experiencing fantastic results.
Where do you source your ingredients? Are you completely local?
All core ingredients are sourced locally, our fortified casks are sourced from the best vineyards around the country and all bourbon stock obviously through the states. We place a considerable focus on sustainability. From giving spent grain to local restaurants for baking, to repurposing casks and powering stills through solar energy, constantly striving to become cleaner and greener is a constant focus.
Can we expect to see more Overeem products appearing outside of Australia in the foreseeable future?
That’s the intention, but as mentioned currently its purely a supply problem, the demand is definitely there! As a result, our production volume has increased 10-fold over the past 5 years in order to be able better supply both locally and internationally. We’re allocating a small amount of volume internationally currently, but it gets swallowed up pretty quick. But definitely, in the years to come expect to see Overeem Whisky more prominently around the globe.
What's your favourite Overeem product?
I think it’s time and place. We recently released our first age statement whisky – Our 12 Year Old Bourbon Cask Matured Single Cask Single Malt and it is absolutely divine both at 46% and CS. However, our core range Port Cask Matured offerings have always been a favourite of mine, where my husband loves the balance and complexities of our Sherry Cask expressions – it’s like picking a favourite child!
Whisky off the table, what’s your go-to drink?
A big glass of Tasmanian White Wine
Outside of work and away from the stills, what do you like to do?
Anything outdoors with family and friends. Boating, bike riding, hiking, exercise, I love to keep active in the outdoors.
What’s worse to find in your warehouse - scorpion, snake, or Jack Jumper ants…..?
Definitely a snake! I have the worst snake phobia, whether it's camping, riding, running, I’m always on the lookout for snakes around Tassie! They scare me!
Thanks for having me
Thanks for breaking away, Jane - great interview. Don't step on any snakes!
Find out more about the Overeem Distillery and their whisky here