A good cider experience at The Taste of Tasmania put us onto Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. The half hour drive from Hobart takes you down into the picturesque Huon Valley. The shed itself is hard to miss as you travel along the Huon Highway.
With ample parking it’s got tourist destination written all over it; though, once again, I’m forced to revise what that usually means when this large-scale operation turns out to produce decent grub.
Built in 1942, the former apple packing shed sits on a family farm that has been growing apples since 1888.
Even if you pull up a wooden pew in one picturesque wooden outhouses, it’s worth a walk inside to peek at the apple wall where over 390 heritage apple varietals are on display.
Cider was introduced to the apple farm’s repertoire by Andrew Smith, who represents the fourth generation of the one family to farm apples on this land. He’s also the man behind the farm’s switch to organic, which occurred back in 1997. The apples used in the cider are produced on the farm, meaning the fruit travels a very small distance from tree to bottle. See if you can taste the difference across a Cider Tasting Paddle ($12), which presents four of their ciders – the original Organic, Farmhouse Perry, Bone Dry and Traditional. While I found the Organic Cider flavoursome and easy to drink, the Bone Dry was a bit big and persistently oaky for me.
The Traditional Cider drank a bit too sweet, making the well-balanced Farmhouse Perry my easy favourite – well until I cracked a bottle of the Kingston Black ($32/750ml). With wine-like characteristics, this cider drinks like green apples with notes that remind me of spiced apple sauce along with plenty of racy acidity. It’s just the ticket to enjoy with a Tassie Seafood ($34) tasting paddle that shows off the best of the region with a combination of 41 Degrees South hot smoked rillettes, Huon Aqua cold smoked and pickled Spring Bay mussels, smoked freshwater eel and pickled octopus.
Build your own combinations on Cygnet Wood Fired Bakehouse’s bread with slices of crisp, fresh red apples and Willie Smith’s range of cider vinegar pickles.
Best thing I ate was actually the simplest – a set of Crunchy Whole Tassie Potatoes ($12/3) dressed with citrus pepperberry salt, almond romesco and Kewpie mayo. It’s wonderful to see a place celebrate terroir in more than just wine. Tassie potatoes are top-notch and this simple treatment allows you to really appreciate their flavour. They’ll also stop you from getting cider-drunk.
If you’re particularly taken by any of the products you’ve eaten, duck inside to their little shop and see if you can take home your own piece of this pristine environment in a jar or bottle. I saw everything from Tasmanian saffron to the aforementioned ciders.
Willie Smith's Apple Shed
2064 Huon Highway, Grove
Ph: (03) 6266 4345
Heading to Tasmania? Does My Bomb Look Big In This? has you covered...
The Taste of Tasmania: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.
Breakfast (Hobart): Born in Brunswick, Dandy Lane, Room for a Pony & Macquarie St. Food Store.
Lunch (near Hobart): Willie Smith's Apple Shed & The Dunalley Store.
Dinner (Hobart): The Source, Franklin, Frank & Templo.
Beyond Hobart: Freycinet Marine Farm, Harvest Launceston & Mudbar Restaurant.