When Adam Pinkard set out on a trip to Scotland with his father in 2013, he had no idea how much he would fall in love with whisky.
Beyond the liquid itself, Pinkard and his dad fell for everything that surrounded the production and consumption of whisky in the country.
“My dad and I are very close, and we were just driving around Scotland just the two of us and started going to distilleries every chance we got. My dad doesn’t drink but he loves the background of it and how it’s made,” Pinkard explained.
“And I just fell absolutely, head over heels in love with the whole romanticism, like a lot of people do when they see it. Like the old buildings, the cold harsh weather where you can have a delicious dram sitting by the fire, and the deers in the fields, the snow on the hills and the bagpipes and all that kind of thing. The whole thing was just so perfect that I thought ‘this is just amazing.’”
From this, Pinkard starting reading up on whisky production, and when he returned to his home in Tasmania, both he and his dad recognised the similarities between the state and Scotland.
Then a few months after the pair returned home, Tasmanian distillery Sullivan’s Cove took home the title of World’s Best Single Malt at the World Whisky Awards.
Seeing the potential that Tasmanian whisky could have and being so enamoured with the whole atmosphere around the spirit, Pinkard knew he wanted to create his own distillery. But the idea really came to life when he approached his best mate and builder, Adam Saunders.
“It was 2014, and we were talking about the whole idea and we decided to do it together. The way that started was, he’s a builder and I wanted some help with understanding how to build structures. One thing led to another over a night of drinking when we decided to do it together,” Pinkard told Bars and Clubs.
“We spent another couple of years learning how to do the process. We volunteered at other distilleries and bits and pieces. It seemed that every time we tried to get a little bit more involved, we just enjoyed it more and more and more. It was the dream we never realised we had, until we started doing it.”
So Pinkard and Saunders brought their unique skill sets together to form Adams Distillery, and honestly, what better name for a business run by two Adams.
Pinkard’s unique skill set, developed over the years of experiences in a range of fields, is also an interesting element to this story. His history includes owning a Gloria Jean’s Franchise, representing Australia in Powerlifting, going to America for college and becoming a paramedic in 2010.
While he recognises whisky is his calling, Pinkard said: “Paramedics is still very much part of my life, I still work part time. I have a couple of shifts a week while working at the distillery the other days, so I pretty much work seven days.”
But that’s just the start of how Adams Distillery does things a bit differently. Pinkard said he “has a terrible habit of trying to reinvent things” which leads to some unusual techniques and end spirits. This includes the distillery’s initial direct-fired stills, not the norm of Australian distilleries, which the Adams designed and had built externally.
Pinkard added: “Our maturation process is probably the most unusual thing. We only half fill our full size barrels. And what we do is we roll them around… and then we stand them on their ends for storage, and every year we unload the stack, we flip all the barrels on their other end and we restack them again.
“What we’re doing is giving the liquid inside twice the exposure to the char, the toast, the previous fill and the oak, and we’re getting phenomenal results… it’s just something that we can’t find anybody else doing.”
Part of this technique is inspired by a story that Bill Lark told Pinkard when they were having coffee one day. As Pinkard described, Lark found a barrel that had mistakenly only been half filled, tasted it two years later and said it was one of the best barrels they ever made. This story encouraged Pinkard to go forward with his idea, which he also said is more economic for the Adams Distillery as well.
The unique spirits that Adams Distillery makes with their unusual techniques is getting them noticed too several of their products are a sell out success and in one case, a limited release sold out in an hour. There’s more of this on the horizon to look forward to as well.
“We like to do weird and wonderful things. We did a little experiment – we got a 20 litre Birch Oak, French Oak barrel and we filled it with Kahlua. We left it to season for a year, and then we drained the Kahlua out and filled it up, and that was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and sold out in an hour.
“So now we’ve got a couple of 200 litre barrles which we’ve filled with Kahlua, which is not cheap, but what we’re seasoning some bigger ones to do that again. We’ve also filled a couple of bourbon barrels with Prosecco to season, and then we’re going to fill those up.
“We did one where we seasoned it with brandy and rum, which were absolutely brilliant, it just works so well. And then we’re doing other weird things too. Like we experimented with rum, just a small batch experiment, but we couldn’t get the sweetness level we wanted. We do a barrel aged sloe gin, which has beautiful port characteristics, so what we did was we took the barrel that we used for that gin, and we put our rum into that.”
With all the great ideas and experiments coming out of Adams Distillery, its certainly one to watch moving forward and on the world stage as their barrels come of age and enter competitions around the globe. While some of their creations are out of stock after being so popular, you can find what they do have available right now on their website.