Dram Review: Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Cask TD0288

[47.6%・ 11 Years Old・Distilled in 2007・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Cask No. TD0288・Single Cask Release of 478 Bottles]

Nose:

Smooth and gleeful prunes smartly lifting the weight of oak and leather, with hints of fresh pasture at first, then sugared almonds, then buttered charred toast, and later on, smoked black tea.

Palate & Finish:

That oak led marzipan sweetness, with plums and ginger flower and raisin bread coming through, is served with a brush of bread pudding vanilla sauce.

Wee blackcurrant jam in the finish infused with tea tannins.

Thoughts:

A lot of noise about the French Oak but cask number 288 is most certainly not as loud as most Australian whiskies.

Balanced and poised with a modestly presented cask influence from a patient maturation. Another well made representation of the Tasmanian genre.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Sullivans Cove American Oak Single Cask HH0103

[45.9%・ 17 Years Old・Distilled in 1999 ・Bottled in 2017 ・Official Bottling・Cask No. HH0103・Single Cask Release of 115 Bottles]

Nose:

A light brush of barley, honey and orchard fruits, rather tepid actually, young honeydew with a hint of rice crisps that carries a toasted vibe.

Palate & Finish:

Definitely feeling more energy on the palate with the vibrant burst of fresh slices of watermelon and nashi pears, the malt provides a creamy follow through splashed with a good dose of oak spices.

Finishing off real easy with traces of white oak and watermelon sugar.

Thoughts:

It’s no secret, I genuinely think Sullivans Cove has been enjoying being in a league of its own for a couple of years now. They are probably the only Australian distillery currently with enough matured stock (that were solidly distilled) that and thus stylistically they are able to achieve a more refined whisky that has depth as well.

HH0103 is another cask that showcases the clean and easy going nature of a well aged Sullivans Cove spirit, and this is perhaps one of the tamer casks from them I have come across; calm for an Australian whisky and gentler than most.

 [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Sullivans Cove Double Cask DC102

[45.2%・ 10 Years Old・Distilled in 2008・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Barrels TD0026, TD0139, TD0176, TD0183, TD0221, TD0233, TD0271・Limited Release of 1430 Bottles]

Nose:

A heavy-handed dose of weetbix aromas, with a casual splash of pepper spices, followed by some yellow fruits that are not so mature.

Palate & Finish:

Sticky honey conveying an overt sweetness, sweetened porridge with some chamomile seasoning followed by green mangos and an oaky bite

minerals, crisp lager, wood and toasty note coming on

Thoughts:

As far as entry level Australian whiskies are concerned, the Double Cask series has come a long way and has a solid and somewhat consistent identity.

This bottling is rather on the sweet side but I imagine it’s still going to be perceived as a casual-friendly drop for those trying to get into Australian whiskies, something Starward has been excelling at for the past few years; but the Double Cask series goes further by planting the flag on an untapped market corner, the series posing as a more matured choice with genuinely older juice involved.. something that just makes sense most logically but for various reasons few local distilleries have stuck to.

✓ [Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Sullivans Cove American Oak Single Cask HH0339 Aged 17 Years

[47.5%・ 17 Years Old・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Cask No. HH0339・Single Cask Release of 195 Bottles]

Nose:

A bit shy at first only showing rich vanilla and a poised oak note, in time notes of Anzac cookies and cooked oats surface along a subtle hint of floral fragrance, as the wood develops.

Palate & Finish:

Pleasantly tropical and fruity, pears and white fruits with a smooth underlay of oak and chocolate covered toffee crisps.

Soft finish, traces of lychees and rice paper with a subtle café ah lait note coming on.

Thoughts:

A bit shy at first on the nose but once it has time to open up it really shows those polished subtleties that reflect how well the Sullivans Cove spirit ages in time.

Perhaps collectively we are guilty of shaping the current climate of Australian whiskies, of putting young distilleries in positions to struggle; oftentimes we are too keen to indulge in and over-celebrate the bold white noises too easily without asking for more, because we do not know subtle elegance in Australian whiskies, in the past decade we just do not come across expressions often enough that are poised with complex, texturised nuances that challenge the sophistication of one’s palate. We are too content with colour and strength and flavours of the first few moments that we forget that real flavours can come in waves that are truly wonderful.

I am optimistic in another decade or so we will see most operating Australian distilleries making the leap, but right now Sullivans Cove is one of may be two, three distilleries in Australia that offers something elevated.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Corowa “Mad Dog” Morgan (Distilled on 19 March 2017)

[46.0%・ NAS・Distilled in 2017・Bottled Circa. 2019・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Weetbix churned with almond butter, a simple, sweet, malty nose; brown sugar caramelising with some sichimi spices and freshly unboxed A4 paper.

Palate & Finish:

Dried muscat grapes giving away an early sweetness, the distillate still rather noticeable, haystacks and spices with some sultana coming through.

Finishes early, digestive biscuits and menthol with more of those malt spirit notes.

Thoughts:

Granted, the Mad Dog is but a young pup, but it’s fair to say that the muscat casks have impressed just about enough flavours onto the spirit.

Later releases hopefully should be more coherent given ideally there would be more time for new make and casks to integrate.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Tasmanian Independent Bottlers Redlands Distillery Redlands Release 2 (Cask No. TIB RD 009)

[49.6%・NAS・Bottled in 2018・Tasmanian Independent Bottlers Bottling・Cask No. TIB RD 009・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Toffee brittle and dried raisins swirled in a creamy affair, dried walnuts with a familiar musk much like a junior version of early Heartwood Port casks.

Palate & Finish:

Smooth flow of succulent late harvest grapes and caramel tablets, dried raisins and nuts with a late hit of cinnamon spices along with a walnut bitterness.

Cinnamon dust and menthol, a subtle tail of burnt toasts.

Thoughts:

A fair dram that exhibits some traits of early Heartwood Port casks that were so beloved by many.

As it stands it is my view that Mr Tim Duckett & team, through releasing a handful of casks a year, have done a better job of promoting the distillery than the corporate equity interest holder and that’s saying something.

Also, I’m a fan of all the necessary information being displayed on the front of the label.

Many Australian distilleries are trying to save a few bucks having cask information hand-written or printed on side labels or cards, it’s a disservice to the individual expressions that many makers assign premiums on..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Timboon Governor’s Reserve (Bottled on 31 August 2017)

[56.3%・3 Years Old・Distilled in 2014・ Bottled in 2017・ Official Bottling・Limited Release of 95 Bottles]

Nose:

Limestone and chalk, aromas of lime flavoured hand sanitiser as well as bubble gum, quite strange to be honest.

Palate & Finish:

A delivery driven by limes, really zesty actually, some fresh oranges and kiwis in there as well pulling through with a pill like bitterness.

Wee finish of kiwis and honeydew melons, slightly bitter still.

Thoughts:

Credit to Mr Josh Walker for taking a chance of vatting a bourbon cask with a Port cask to create this.

Unfortunately I found this too strange personally, even with the funky and citrus distillery characters in mind, it’s like watching Mr David Boon taking a swing at the first ball only to edge it to second slip..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Corra Linn Barrel 61

[53.0%・NAS・Official Bottling・Barrel No. 61・ Single Cask Release of 97 Bottles]

Nose:

Curiously flour-y, there is a hit of spirit sharpness but otherwise it’s muted and deprived of noteworthy flavours; very, very faint hint of apple fragrance perhaps and slightly buttery.

Palate & Finish:

Quite a spicy hit and otherwise, just a particularly new make driven delivery, the spirit is slightly on the fruity side but light in flavours otherwise.

Some new make notes remain in the finish.

Thoughts:

To answer Terence Fletcher’s question, it was rushing.

There are more new Australian distilleries now than ever before and it is important to get the first releases, especially the first single cask release right. I am afraid this ain’t right..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: McHenry Single Malt Barrel No. 7

[44.0%・4 Years Old・Distilled in 2012・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 140 Bottles]

Nose:

Clean, but simple, but clean, with light honey and wood shaves amidst a grassy vibe, pepper with almond flavoured sugar, some nectarines and mint leaves.

Palate & Finish:

A light mouthfeel of rather easy to drink honey and apricot jam, mint leaves, with a clean punch of spices and thereafter showing notes of the clean malt spirit together with freshly baked almond croissant and finger limes.

Lighter finish with hints of green apples and menthol chewing gum.

Thoughts:


In truth it’s been years since I have had a McHenry and I didn’t remember much about the distillery but simply put this 2017 release is not bad at all, light and simple but clean and actually rather easy to drink.

Though I think they really ought to re-think about their label layout though..

[Recommended if you like the distillery/style]


-Nicholas

Dram Review: Fleurieu Selected by Whisky & Alement

[50.1%・3 Years Old・Distilled in 2016・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling Selected by Whisky & Alement・Single Cask Release of 150 Bottles]

Nose:

Honestly faring quite young and very spirit driven, with mowed grass and minerals as well as the heavier oily toffee note from the distillate and the dried grapes, poached fruits, dried twigs and floral aromas from the Tawny Port cask.

Palate & Finish:

Fairly sweet with a delivery of thinned out Manuka honey with a hint of charred salt, notes of distillate still very much intact as the barley sweetness continues to ooze out. Some dehydrated blueberries and blackberries in the background.

More of that sweetness in the finish, golden honey poured over dried fruits and cereals with splashes of herbs.

Thoughts:

This is perhaps one of the youngest Fleurieu expressions I have sampled and it shows, flavours do not integrate as coherently like many of the official releases.

However, I must say the Whisky & Alement team has managed to curate quite an interesting profile spun out of the deep-rooted DNA of the Fleurieu spirit, which is something I want to see as the distillery continues to grow.


-Nicholas