Dram Review: Black Gate Cask #016 Exclusively Bottled for The Oak Barrel

[66.0% • Original Bottling • Bottled in 2016 • No Age Statement  • Single Cask Release of 32 Bottles]

As a Black Gate fan, it gives me great pleasure to have the opportunity to officially announce that Mr. Brian Hollingworth and Mrs. Genise Hollingworth are releasing the single cask #016, exclusively for The Oak Barrel Sydney Whisky Fair 2016.

Hailed from the pedigree of the iconic 520 release, the #016 is the sixth 20 litre first-filled sherry cask Brian filled. Distilled from Franklin barley Brian brought back from Hobart into the same spirit that went into BG #011 and aged for just over two years and two months, at 66% ABV this is the sauciest Black Gate ever bottled yet; to say this whisky is unlike everything else is quite possibly an understatement.

I couldn’t hide my excitement when Mr. Scott Fitzsimons of the Oak Barrel left me by myself with the sample bottle (I suppose there are 32 bottles left now), I was immediately drawn to the dark, thrilling colour and the viscosity of the liquid.


The nose is full of sticky molasses and toffee treacle. There is a gum tree note that develops into premium aged tea leaves. A thick dose of Chinese herbal medicine boiling in the background with just a hint of dirty diesel that has grown synonymous with the distillery. Five spices, peppercorn and cloves, everything with this whisky feels big, like revving your modified V8 engine on a country dirt road. With time, the herbal note settles slightly, just enough to reveal a floral musk.

Palate & Finish:

Oh so syrupy on the palate, everything one might expect from seeing how saucy this whisky is. Incredibly rich in dark toffee syrup, it’s extraordinarily sweet. Eventually there  comes the old fashioned soaked orange peels with a creamy café au lait note that help diluting the thickness, lifting the heaviness gradually to reveal a lighter floral note as the molten brown sugar and golden honey notes slowly evaporate. 


This bottling showcases just how massive a sherry bomb can be, the polar opposite of the 007 in many manners; it offers an excessive indulgence that challenges one’s understanding of how whiskies should behave. In some ways, this embodies the spirit of the Oak Barrel’s “why the hell not?” approach and that’s bloody awesome. I got to say, this is probably something I will not come across again, and I am glad they’ve decided to release it.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]


The Black Gate #016 will be on taste at the Oak Barrel Sydney Whisky Fair 2016, 26 bottles will also be available for sale at the fair.