There are only three species of leatherwood trees in the world, and two of them (Eucryphia species (lucida and milliganii), are found only in the wild and ancient forests of the western half of Tasmania.
Relatively few people travel to those forests, so I was delighted to find a story by David Levell published in Australian Traveller magazine last year.
He went ‘on the trail’ of leatherwood honey and the resultant story is both surprising and impressive.
It begins with Levell joining one of Tasmania’s leading apiarists and his team of beekeepers whilst they harvest the leatherwood honey from hives in the remote forests of the west coast ranges between Queenstown and Tullah.
Standing in a buzzing cloud, a beekeeper hands me a sticky lump of golden honeycomb. I flee like an animated cartoon bear, trailed by bees, until I’m far enough from the hives to risk lifting my mask for a hurried bite.
‘It’s delicious beyond description, this ‘distillate of the wilderness’, as apiarist Julian Wolfhagen calls it.
His Tasmanian Honey Company, founded in 1978, is one of six outfits producing 85 per cent of the state’s honey, of which some 70 to 80 per cent is leatherwood.
Even more than the pink-eye potato, perhaps, leatherwood honey is the quintessential taste of Tasmania.
“Leatherwood has a wonderful floral bouquet,” says Julian.
“It’s quite a challenging, sophisticated flavour: spicy and complex. Like oysters and opera, it’s a bit of an acquired taste.”
To see the full article go to https://www.australiantraveller.com/tas/leatherwood-honey-tasmania/