Some know Tasmania as the Blue Carrot Isle, The Island of Inspiration, Your Natural State, or even The Holiday Isle but to me it is most accurately referred to as the Apple Isle. Willie Smith's Apple Shed is the jewel in the crown of the recently initiated Tasmanian Cider Trail.
I visited the Apple Shed not long after arriving in Tasmania. I overheard a tall tale from the mouths of a few Taswegians about this shed - that it housed a collection of shriveled-up apples resembling the haggard faces of long overripe ladies. Sadly these particular curios were no longer being exhibited by the time I visited. However, what Willie Smith's did have on offer more than made up for this infinitesimal let-down.
When you enter the Apple Shed, you wander through a small museum offering an insight into the history of the Willie Smith orchard. It really seems to be an impressive Tasmanian legacy they have going for themselves. The smell of freshly prepared local produce guides you towards the bar, which is nestled in the centre of some agricultural artifacts. These are all located in the main section of the tastefully restored 1940s barn.
Starting To Think That There Are Actually Only 2 Types Of Apple, Red And Green
A gargantuan wall of apples and a tremendously warm welcome from the staff are waiting to greet you. I immediately know that if I lived within a few miles of the shed then it would instantly become my "local". A few sensible types have already gobbled up all the prime real estate at the bar, while the less fortunate are dotted around the rest of the venue. They will have to brave the cider stagger of shame each time they venture to the bar for a refill.
Oh Wait I See A Slightly Different Coloured Green Apple
Everyone seems to be opting for the taster paddles featuring five different artisan ciders, all produced on-site. I order one and carefully carry it back to my seat. Each paddle is accompanied by a small clip board detailing all the delicious ciders that you are about to devour. Whoever said that you should never mix your drinks obviously wan't talking about the ciders on offer at the Apple Shed.
As you tentatively sip on the selection of ciders on offer in your first paddle, you read the clipboard dossier and try to pick out all the subtle characteristics described therein. On your second paddle you are too busy knocking them back with reckless abandon to even remember where you have put the clipboard. By your third paddle you no longer need the clipboard as you are now a self appointed cider aficionado. You are on the phone messaging your significant other to tell them not to expect you home tonight, all the while simultaneously asking the bar staff if you get a discount for buying their cider by the flagon.
Who Said Personalised Number Plates Are Just For Bogans?
The amazing local fare - Mt Gnomon chorizo, Marion Bay chooks - manages to keep you grounded and nourished. The bonza grub more importantly acts as the perfect accompaniment to the veritable smörgåsbord of beverages on offer. The Apple Shed offers its customers a unique attraction that will keep them coming back time after time. I for one cannot wait to lose another day here.
I visited last year in April, when it was still just a barn and we had to call out to get someone to come and greet us. They weren't doing official tastings, but the guy (forget his name now) was so friendly and talked to us for ages. He even made up a rhubarb cider for us (is this on the menu?). Willie Smith's is my favourite cider I have tasted so far. Absolutely delicious. And the people who make it are great!