Dram Review: Dobson’s Belle Epoque

[60.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2016-2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Strange showings of mothball and wasabi.. some Manuka honey in the mix with the peat being present but weak. Vanilla nougat joins in as the dram becomes more grassy.

Palate & Finish:

Grassy and muddy, the palate is just too earthy, it feels dirty and not in the typical Australian whisky way, some sharp spices abruptly break up the curious sweetness to heighten things up. Some chewy wood chips surface on the mid-palate.

The high proof doesn’t extend to the finish, just some grassiness splashed with brown sugar water.

Thoughts:

A peated expression is probably out of the distillery’s comfort zone and it really shows here, I suppose this really is for the afficianado..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Dobson’s Empire 8 (Cask No. 87)

[60.0%・6 Years Old・Bottled Circa 2016-2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 87・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

At 60% this doesn’t feel too sharp or expressive and instead actually rather muted. Vanilla custard and butter-sugar crepes, some caramelised almonds amongst the spirit-y presence.

Palate & Finish:

A muddled splatter of syrup and cane sugar somewhat incoherently with candied orange and vanilla fudge moving in along with some spices.

Traces of mint chocolate and candied orange before turning dry and bitter.

Thoughts:

This is a sound base expression from a micro-distillery, the flavour profile is in order although it just feels a bit forced and not exactly natural, somewhat engineered in a sense with flavours not really gelling together, I wonder if it’s a matter of single cask variances or if this has anything to do with production methods..

Calibrating the next release not as a cask strength single cask probably will make the whole delivery more coherent.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Dobson’s Old Reliable

[47.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2015-2017・ Official Bottling・Batch Release]

Nose:

The nose is really shy, faintly floral with mild violet and a thin brush of hazelnut cream.  Dig deeper and there is that vaguely noticeable smoke.  A wee dose of red berries in the background.

Palate & Finish:

Slight sugary strawberries, the spirit doesn’t possess too much oomph and it fizzles out, carrying its lighthearted grassy spirit characters away rather swiftly.  On a separate plane lies hints of wine cask-led summer berries and orange liqueur notes.

Finishes smoothly with a light touch of tannins.

Thoughts:

The Old Reliable is labelled as 47% abv but it certainly feels much lighter and is an easy-to-drink whiskey.

I am currently reading Mr. Van Eycken’s book and this really reminds me of the Japanese  ji-whiskies (literally translates to “craft whiskies”) that were very popular amongst the local crowd in the early 1980s..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Dobson’s Empire 8 (Cask No. 81)

[60.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2016・Official Bottling・Cask No. 81・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

After Eight chocolate with the inner filling of crème de menthe overflowing, swirled with a somewhat artificial injection of toffee.  In time there is a slight peppery presence, hint of rosemary along with some sultana.

Palate & Finish:

Highly acidic, the sheer sourness from the sour plums and the apricots is enough to send the brain instantly into shock..  oranges then orange peels as the delivery takes a bitter turn.

Hint of dark mocha as thankfully the acidity subsides.

Thoughts:

This “whiskey”, I am afraid, is a spectacular disaster..

Perhaps the fact that this was bottled in itself reflects the bigger issue:  either the folks there don’t really care about what they put out or they honestly think the cask is worthy of being bottled as a prized release.  I don’t know which is more worrying but either way this is the kind of releases that disreputes a distillery, and to some extent, an industry as a whole..

The bottom line is this, the Australian whisky distilling industry is still at a fragile stage despite recent successes.  Some of the producers have caught the world’s attention but overall Australian whiskies have yet to win the world’s confidence.  The industry really could use the best efforts from all its players.

We here at WhiskNick would like to see local producers do well so here’s to hoping the guys at Dobson’s will figure something out.

-Nicholas