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Just three decades ago, craft distilleries were illegal on Tasmania, the remote and strikingly gorgeous island state to the south of the Australian mainland.
But today, in trendy bars in the sleepy Tasmanian capital of Hobart, as well as in Melbourne and Sydney, there are entire pages on menus devoted to Tasmanian gins. On the shelf at Society Salamanca, a lively gin-focused cocktail bar near the harbor in Hobart, for example, there are now more than 40 Tasmanian gins from 26 distilleries, with more on the way.
Tasmanian gin is on the rise thanks to the overturning of an archaic law banning small-scale distilling in Australia, intended to discourage backyard moonshiners and make the industry easier to control. An aspiring Tasmanian distiller challenged the federal statute in 1989, paving the way for a boom first in craft Tasmanian whiskies, and more recently, gins. Most of the gins — distilled by young, small-batch entrepreneurs — have popped up in the last five years.