Making Whey Waves on the Apple Isle: How This Small Batch Distillery Created a World-First Vodka.
Ryan Hartshorn’s mother, Diane Rae, was working as a financial planner and psychologist in Queensland when she decided a tree change was in order. In 2001, she took off on the global trip of a lifetime to learn the art of cheesemaking before choosing to settle her family in rural Tasmania and putting her newfound appetite for the cheese business to work.
In the 20 years since, Diane, Ryan, and his sister Nicole, have created something to be truly proud of.
Located 40-kilometres south of Hobart, Grandvewe Farm is the only organic and sustainable sheep farm that produces traditional, award-winning, and innovative dairy produce from the Apple Isle.
Having spent his formative years on the farm, Ryan left to complete a business degree at university, only to return at 19 itching to do his own thing.
“Trying to do something that hasn’t been done in Tasmania,” laughs Ryan Hartshorn, “that’s easy. It’s doing something that hasn’t been done in Australia - that was my aim!”
Today, as head distiller of the small-batch Tasmanian distillery, Hartshorn, Ryan has done one better: he has become the first in the world to turn sheep whey — a byproduct of the cheesemaking industry — into a delicious spirit.
“Whey is traditionally thrown away,” he explains of the sustainability angle to his product and business. “To be able to use an otherwise discarded product of my mum’s business is really exciting.”
It was Ryan’s dream to form a distillery that could be created in partnership with the cheesery, but he admits he was in the dark about how to do this,
“Making a dairy liquor? That’s been done. I was on the hunt for something different.”
When he came across a distillery in Ireland experimenting with cow whey, Ryan reached out with a few questions: “They refused to tell me anything — I really had to figure it out on my own.”
The process involved a lot of experimenting before Ryan landed on the right flavour and aroma for his vodka. Still, his efforts were worth it when the sales and awards rolled in, including World’s Best Vodka at the World Vodka Awards in 2018. And then, after adding a gin to the range, a gold medal at the World Gin Awards that same year.
“There’s a thrill that comes with international recognition,” admits Ryan. “Especially when the wins came after a lot of hard graft!”
Although Ryan’s unique spirits are available in bottle shops all over the country — and despite the business’s success selling online via their website — joining Amazon Australia just before Christmas was a thrilling move for the distillery.
“I’m so happy to be a part of the Amazon world,” he says. “Let’s face it; they are the global experts in selling, marketing, distributing — all of it.”
Hartshorn Distillery will be featured in Amazon Australia’s Launchpad program, joining many other notable Aussie small businesses looking to accelerate the benefits of joining forces with Amazon Australia.
Looking to the future, Ryan isn’t content to rest on his alcohol-focused laurels. He’s currently developing a new skincare line, also using whey, and he’s excited to see where his journey with Amazon Australia could take this too.
“The fact that this partnership benefits our customers and will make it so much easier for them to enjoy our eclectic range of products – no matter where they reside – makes us very happy. The only way is up!”
Hartshorn is one of the small local businesses featured on the Shop Tasmanian store: www.amazon.com.au/tasmania