McLaren Vale Distillery nears whisky debut

McLaren Vale Distillery is poised to release its first single malt whiskies following a recent ownership change.

Based in Blewitt Springs, South Australia, McLaren Vale Distillery was founded in 2014 by distiller John Rochfort in partnership with Jock Harvey of Chalk Hill Wines

Rochfort later went on to co-found Rochfort Distillery, which is currently in liquidation and the subject of a legal dispute over the proposed auction of its assets.

McLaren Vale Distillery in Blewitt Springs, South Australia
McLaren Vale Distillery in Blewitt Springs, South Australia

Rochfort family company Bellfield (SA) Pty Ltd transferred its 50 per cent stake in McLaren Vale Distillery to the Harvey family in April 2020, according to ASIC records, with director Chris Rochfort stepping down from the company’s board.

Jock Harvey told Drinks Adventures he is unable to comment on the development “due to a legal agreement”.

“I started a partnership with the Rochforts in 2014 on a family property,” he said in a statement.

“My relationship with the Rochforts ended when they moved to Victor Harbour to set up Rochfort Distillery.

“I took full control of McLaren Vale Distillery in April this year and very much look forward to running it as a more understated and low profile distillery. 

“We’ll let the product talk for itself.”

Barrel investments secure

Harvey said he had taken on the liabilities of the barrel buyback program initiated by McLaren Vale Distillery.

“My main purpose is to fulfil the obligations that we made to private barrel owners,” he said. 

“I’ve given an undertaking that their full entitlements will be met.”

McLaren Vale whisky out soon

Harvey said he is excited to continue his career evolution into another sector of the drinks industry.

“I’ve had an interest in brewing since working as a brewer in the US in 1994. I’ve also been a keen whisky drinker, so it’s a natural progression,” he said.

“We’re only a couple of months away from releasing stock that was laid down in 2015 and is now five years old – it’s very exciting.”

John Rochfort could not be contacted for comment.

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Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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