In Episode 70 of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, co-hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch share the story of Bill Welter, well-traveled golfer and founder of Journeyman Distillery, sharing his passion for creating some of the best spirits you’ll ever experience (on a golf trip or at home).
Bill begins the discussion with an explanation of his relatively new brand (2011) based in Three Oaks, Michigan, whose brand tagline “The Adventure of Spirit” says much about the philosophy behind their handcrafted artisan spirits (with a focus on whiskey). Bill’s career paths through the family banking business and then hospitality and restaurant business led to his decision to “look for something else,” and he details how Greg Ramsey of Tasmania’s Barnbougle Dunes fame and a friend from their days living in St. Andrews, helped him launch Journeyman Distillery.
Located in an historic restored factory that first made buggy whips and corsets in the late 1880s, Journeyman has become a showpiece in the small, artisan-driven town of Three Oaks on the shores of Lake Michigan. And Bill doesn’t hide his “passion for creating a variety of products” which has resulted in various Journeyman offerings, some created out of the necessity of filling customers’ requests in the cocktail bar the distillery.
Bill and Darin then dive into memories from their recent trip to Australia (which included another longtime friend, Craig Haltom, who recently discovered the property where Mike Keiser is building Sand Valley in Wisconsin). Together, the threesome, with “Mr. Tasmania” Ramsey as their guide, embarked on a whirlwind bucket-list golf journey that included classics such as New South Wales, Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne; modern links Barnbougle Dunes and sister track Lost Farm on Tasmania; and the unmatched rugged coastline courses of Ocean Dunes and Cape Wickham on King Island.
They also spent a few days at Ramsey’s family farm (Ratho Farm) in the Tasmanian Highlands, site of a restored layout that includes holes from the oldest golf course in Australia where golf was first played in 1822. Both Bill and Darin recount their astonishment at this most unusual of courses (with an outhouse on the opening tee box) and its ties to Scotland and to the history of the game.
Finally, Bill recommends potential golf visitors to Australia make sure they spend some time in the great cities of Sydney and Melbourne, while reiterating that for him, a true Journeyman, the island of Tasmania was the toast of the trip.
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