Cumulus Studio has designed a distinctive whisky distillery in the town of Oatlands in Tasmania, Australia. Encompassed by the country’s largest collection of colonial buildings, the Callington Mill Distillery near Oatlands’ iconic windmill offers guests an immersive whisky-tasting experience, with the distillery’s design paying homage to the local architecture of the region. The complex consists of a cluster of buildings connected with corrugated gabled roofs, which replicate the aesthetic of the roofs of rural sheds and homes in the surrounding area. The buildings themselves are made of bricks that have a soft and chalky patina that references the sandstone of the surrounding buildings. The complex is a functional distillery and an experience centre with one-of-a-kind spaces that give visitors a glimpse of the distillery’s history and whisky-making process. There is also an eatery within the complex.
Australian Architect Peter Walker, Director of Cumulus Studio explained the idea behind the distillery stating, “Callington Mill Distillery is a respectful silhouette beside an adapted 1830s flour mill and a distinct point of reference among the area’s preserved Georgian sandstone buildings. Our design aims to honour Oatlands’ historical narrative and involve visitors in the story of how its local whisky is made. Two gable structures are unapologetically contemporary, yet seamlessly blend with the heritage context. The gabled form of the new distillery is also derived from historical precedents, reminiscent of utilitarian rural sheds that are common in the surrounding landscape, as well as a subtle nod to the industrial processes stored within”.
Established in 2015, Callington Mill Distillery is an inventive, family-owned whisky distillery. The distillery continues to produce a range of award-winning single malt whiskies, as well as gin and vodka. The design of the Callington Mill Distillery is meant to showcase a blend of traditional materials and contemporary design. The distillery is aesthetically pleasing yet functional. It is new yet sensitive to the old. The studio was inspired by the local architecture of the region but wanted the spaces to be modern, just like the ideology of the distillery.
Walker elaborates, “As well as creating a world-class visitor experience, the distillery’s design strikes a fine balance between functionality, scale, and history. For us, it was important to create a set of buildings that honoured the rich heritage context of the town, ones blending in with their surroundings while remaining unapologetically contemporary. When viewed from the courtyard of the historic mill precinct, the building sits comfortably alongside its surrounding buildings, the sand stock brick walls and corrugated metal roof directly echoing the materials of the Georgian context”.
The Callington Mill Distillery houses three main sections for visitors to enter—a restaurant, the factory floor, and a sunken tasting Barrel Room. These areas are designed to be easily accessible by visitors at any time during their visit and are spatially connected. Guests can dine at the restaurant and bar on the first floor, take a self-guided tour of the factory on the ground floor and have whisky tastings in the separate Barrel Room. The buildings feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows and have an open layout, making it easy for guests to explore the complex. “The design had to navigate the requirements of a working distillery while providing the immersive experience of a traditional cellar door. The distillery does this through its natural sequence of spaces, which are all linked by wayfinding signage, allowing visitors to easily explore the distillery at their own pace. It also means the distillery can be run by a handful of staff, maintaining a sense of intimacy despite its scale,” explains Walker.
The interior design of the Callington Mill Distillery features a contemporary style. The material palette of the spaces celebrates whisky’s warm tones. The interiors feature Tasmanian oak joinery, brass fittings, minimal lighting, and marble with a golden hue. The warm and welcoming restaurant and bar area house contemporary wooden tables and modern lighting fixtures. The highlights of the bar area are the statement metal lighting installation hanging from the ceiling and the well-lit open shelves housing the whiskies. Moreover, the eatery serves delicious plates made using the freshest locally sourced ingredients that elevate the taste of the whiskies.