Whisky Review: Belgrove “Wholly Shit” Rye Whisky

Style: Earthy, Grassy and Oaty

Nose:

Begins with an earthy agave tone, is this a tequila?! Damp clay, mineral notes, wet grass, icy cucumber gradually opening up to a sweet honey oat which shines through the middle. Dry spices, especially cloves, mixing in between, a cozy oatmeal underlayer to finish.

Palate:

Another tequila run, what’s happening?!… More agave, yacult, cucumber and fresh grass leading the front of while a malty (even though this is a rye) sweetness gathering momentum. Oat, cereal, and macadamia thoroughly soaked in vanilla cream. Not bad, not bad. Faint smoke, a touch of organic soap bar. Coconut oil drizzling on digestive biscuits and a nice, firm layer of lightly salted pecans placed underneath.

Finish:

A relatively soft, biscuity finish. Honey mead, vanilla and cookie forming a thin, sweet coat.

Thoughts:

In case you don’t know why this whisky is called Wholly Shit, here’s what is written at the back label, “Belgrove sheep eat the spent distillery grain. Their dried dung was burnt instead of peat.” I guess this should qualify as the weirdest whisky I have tried to date. But look, what is a whisky journey without experiencing new, crazy things? Back to this dram, if I was tasted this blind, I would have guessed this is a young malt spiked with tequila. I suppose the earthy, vegetal element drives you up to an unexpected alley, but once you get used to the profile, with all the grassiness, the sweet cereal notes, it is actually a pretty fair drop.

✓ [Recommended if you like the Style/ Distillery]

[57.8% | Original Bottling | 2018 Bottled | Cask Strength | 75 of 155 Bottles | No Age Statement | T]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Belgrove Rye Smoke’n Barrel

[58.4%・NAS・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

Overtly ashy, much like the aftermath of a small bush fire; burnt plastic and burning manuka, extremely herbal and eucalyptus driven.

Palate & Finish:

Intensely sweet followed by an engulfing wave of ashes, Chinese herbs, eucalyptus and menthol. Earthy Muscovado with burnt plastic and dry spices.

An earthy finish of bitter Chinese herbs and stale cigarette smoke.

Thoughts:

Perhaps it’s one thing to use an ex-Lagavulin cask and another to actively smoke a barrel intensively.

It is great to see Mr. Bignell always pushing the boundaries and testing possibilities even though for me this cask didn’t quite pan out, it is just too overwhelmingly smoky on the nose and rye is perhaps not the best fitting spirit in this case.

Experiments like this don’t always work out and it is not a shot at Belgrove but rather it reflects an inconvenient truth that plagues the industry, there is a lack of outlet for rejected Australian casks and it contributes to a vicious cycle: distilleries are under financial pressure to release single casks that frankly should not exist and consumers are in turn more wary as buying good Australian whiskies increasingly comes down to luck.

As an industry, perhaps we have to collectively figure out a solution, Australian distilleries are known to be creative and that should remain as a positive point.

Cheers Daniel for the dram, it’s much appreciated.

-Nicholas