Track whisky and cider hotspots

VISITORS to Tasmania can now plot their journeys to whisky and cider hotspots across the state with ease.

Websites launched yesterday provide tourists with videos, maps, information and recipes for each top drop produced in the state.

Northern destinations included on the cider trail so far include Spreyton Cider, Small Players and Dickens Cider.

Economic Development Minister David O'Byrne joined Cider Tasmania president Mark Robertson and Tasmanian Whisky Producers Association spokesman Mark Nicholson to launch the new sites.

The $100,000 project has been funded through the federal government's Economic Diversification package.

The package is part of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, designed to create jobs lost as a result of increased forest protection.

Mr O'Byrne said the state government bankrolled the whisky and cider trails, and expects to be reimbursed following the election.

He said the new websites were a celebration of the quality produce Tasmania has to offer.

``We have some magnficent artisans in Tasmania . . . some fantastic producers producing a wonderful product of international standard,'' he said.

Cider Tasmania president Mark Robertson said the time was right for Tasmanian cider to step up on the world stage.

``With the growth in the market and the number of small businesses in the market, the timing is perfect,'' he said.

``All cider producers in Tasmania recognise we're stronger as a whole and that if we work together we will continue to grow the industry.''

Tasmanian Whisky Producers Association spokesman Mark Nicholson said visitors had been stumbling across local distilleries for years, surprised so many around the state produced the premium spirit.

``It's time we moved to the next phase of saying this is Australia's whisky isle _ in fact the whisky isle of the southern hemisphere,'' he said.

``The whole sense of place is really important and that's exactly what the website screams.''