To think Rochfort is to think Tessa, ICHM’s Careers Counsellor extraordinaire. But now there’s a prize-winning whisky attached to the family name.
When Tessa is not out on the road promoting ICHM to prospective students, she can be found at the family’s sprawling property on Mount Rosa Road in the picturesque Hindmarsh Valley, 80 km south of Adelaide.
There, she is also in her element, and distinctly proud of the family’s achievement in transforming - in just a year - a former wine cellar door and tea room into The Rochfort Distillery, a whisky distillery, bar, lounge and restaurant. The fare is currently a light menu of meat boards and cheese platters.
As well as a full bar with beer and wine, The Rochfort Distillery has an extensive range of Australian and international whiskies, with whisky flights and master - classes available. They also make a stunning gin using unusual and exotic botanicals.
The property is where sons Lachlan and John (pictured) handcraft their single malt whisky, and their specialty is whisky aged in South Australian barrels with a rich provenance.
Christopher, the patriarch, does cellar door tours. Lachlan is head distiller and is responsible for the exquisite spirit being placed in iconic South Australian barrels. (When not travelling for ICHM, Tessa is the matriarch welcoming visitors to the cellar door.)
John was an ICHM scholarship winner and while there he developed a great love of partnering food and wine and, subsequently, whisky. In late 2018 he won the Australian Distiller of the Year awarded by the Icons of Whisky, and he went on to take out the global award in London in March 2019.
In early April 2019, Tasting Australia conducted a gala ceremony to recognise the best Australian whisky, gin, vodka, rum and more, with the winners chosen from 162 entries from 57 exhibitors. The Rochfort Distillery not only won Best Small Batch Spirit for its Single Malt Whisky, but also the prize for the Best Whisky.
John says that South Australia is probably one of the best spots you could think of to make whisky because of the quality of the grain, the quality of the water and access to great barrels.
‘Being able to have a distillery with the sea breeze in its own little valley is something to be really excited about.’
John, a former CEO of Tasmania’s Lark Distillery, has been making whisky for 15 years.
A well as developing the distillery, ‘team Rochfort’ has been busy cleaning up the property and repairing an extensive network of watering systems. In the future, they also look to plant lavender and establish a honey farm, and build an artisan village featuring glass blowing, and a working cooperage so that people can see the entire whisky making process.