hist-brewing: Honeys from Oz

Dan McFeeley mcfeeley at keynet.net
Fri Feb 9 09:16:09 PST 2001

Tom Smit wrote:

>   Yes, I am from Oz and my leatherwood honey came from Tasmania. It is
> just soooo nice and not grainy nor bitter! Interesting that you guys
> make a leatherwood honey too, I presume from the same kind of trees? I
> still think a lot of l/w honey in the states may be imported 7 have lost
> a lot of its niceness.

Interestingly, Acton & Duncan in _Making Mead_ have this to say about
Australian honeys:

  There are many excellent Australian honeys, both single blossum
  and blended, but one needs to guard against the admittedly rare
  chance of purchasing eucalyptus blossum honey, which has a 
  peculiar but typical bitter flavor.  Most Australian honeys
  it should be emphasized, are entirely satisfactory.

According to _The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture_:

  Eucalyptus honey is as variable as the plants themselves; it may 
  be light colored and mild in flavor or dark and strong tasting.
  Many species of eucalyptus do not flower at regular intervals.
  Beekeepers in Australia must become good botanists; they may 
  spend long hours studying flower development and growth.  Because
  of this variability in eucalyptus flowering many Australian 
  beekeepers truck their colonies long distances to take advantage
  of different honey flows.

Could be coincidental, but it seems curious that Acton & Duncan describe
a bitter flavor to an imported Australian honey just as some imported
Leatherwood honeys have also been described as having a bitterness.
Sounds like you have to travel to Oz if you want to find the really
good stuff!

Shipping in tins sounds suspicious -- the acidity of honey is sufficient
to react with metal and cause off flavors to the honey.  Most producers
will use plastic bags inside the large drums used to ship bulk honey in
order to protect it from the metal.  I'm also wondering if the exporters
are shipping the lower quality Leatherwood honey overseas and selling the
better honeys to more knowledgable buyers in Oz.  Another point is possible
damage during the shipping process.  If the honey isn't stored properly,
it could suffer heat damage and lose quality.  

I think a lot of people were influnced by Acton & Duncan's description of
Australian Eucalyptus honey and turned off to it -- I've read stuff posted
on the Internet in the past warning meadmakers not to use Eucalyptus honey.
Too bad, this is obviously a unique honey well suited for mead.  

Dan McFeeley
mcfeeley at keynet.net

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