Dram Review: Limeburners Infinity Solera Cask

[43.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2017・Official Bottling・General Release]

Nose:

Moist Banana bread and sultana in fairly soft dosage, chocolate sundae sauce with a sound introduction of malt before getting a tad gingery in time.

Palate & Finish:

Quite an appealing sultana note to begin albeit on the thin side, lightly brushed with chocolate sauce. Some lemony note to go with clean grass clippings. The spirit is understandably quite youthful, with some faint background notes of caramel and burnt oranges.

Finishes lightly with more of that chocolate sauce along with flicks of ginger and cinnamon.

Thoughts:

Decent entry level Aussie that’s rather logically vatted, close to scoring a tick. A bit more maturity and a bit more intensity would really push this into becoming Australia’s leading non-single-cask/non-small-batch general release..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Limeburners Darkest Winter M350

[63.8%・NAS・Bottled Circa 2017・Official Bottling・Cask M350・Single Cask Release of 218 Bottles]

Nose:

Starts off with a luscious dose of well churned caramel and a café au lait influence.  The spirit gives off quite an oily impression but otherwise it’s a bit green and a bit bare initially.  In time the peat and smoke surface in the form of burnt tyres, a bit vegetative with some wild flowers.  Underneath the layer of peat, there are fruits and sugar, with some cloves coming on as the oak exerts itself.

Palate & Finish:

A thick delivery of poached pears as the sugar boils away, making it a sticky affair.  Then comes an influx of citrus nectar along with a generous amount of spices.  The peat is introduced at a subdued level though it has a steady follow through.

The finishing is towards the gritty side with the coarseness of the barley, weetbix and crushed coffee beans on show.

Thoughts:

With only two releases, the Darkest Winter has established itself as Limeburners’ flagship series; batch two is again a decent release from the Western Australian distillery, the series should become more refined in the years to come..

Nicholas

Dram Review: Limeburners Cask Strength Directors Cut M326

[61.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 199 Bottles]

Nose:

Squid ink & coal smoke up front but beneath the earthy veil lies rose petals and cured hibiscus.  It’s dirty and refined at the same time, with a curious heat rub note gradually surfacing from the background.

Palate & Finish:

A healthy dose of strawberry jam on the palate, a tad too peppery and a tad too oaky but at the same time the prolonged sweetness of stewed berries is satisfying enough to dismiss the imperfections, until the arrival of a bitter note from chewing on pills.

An elongated finish with quite a poised follow through of subtle smokiness and strawberry preserve, the cask influence provides a much desired thickness and creates a body that stands up to the spirit, offering a playful sweetness that’s quite delightful.

Thoughts:

Australian “Sherry” casks tend to give quite a distinct profile, and this cask highlights some of the more attractive traits..  I wonder if the peat added to the dram though..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Limeburners Cask Strength Directors Cut M230

[59.5%・NAS・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 202 Bottles]

Nose:

Slow-cooked prunes conveying that acidity across as the peat remains almost perfectly concealed.  Thick strawberry jam and lemon preserve as a lace of earthy smoke faintly wraps around.  Brandy flaming away as the Christmas cake is set ablaze, and a pot of black tea brewing in the background.

Palate & Finish:

Sticky and chewy, a thoroughly enjoyable mouthfeel.  Buttery creaminess dressed with lovely raisins, after eight chocolate thins, moist Christmas cake.  Sensational.

Mint cream with the Christmas cake note lingering on, there is a tidy oak influence which lays the path for a returning of jammy note, this time more gingery.

Thoughts:

I will have to hunt down a bottle somehow.

Not a lot of Australian distilleries can put out a whisky of this caliber, and the Limeburners guys seem to have a higher strike rate that most other folks.

I have enjoyed quite a few Port casks from Limeburners now and cask to cask wise it’s as close as consistency as you’ll ever get with Australian single casks, somehow they are able to create a certain identity that just shows in their casks.  This is really a testament to their crafts and their proficiency in picking great casks.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas 

Dram Review: Limeburners Cask Strength Heavy Peat Barrel M225

[61.0%・NAS・Cask No. M225・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 183 Bottles]

Nose:

Dark chocolate, vanilla essence from charred oak staves laced with icing sugar.  Coarse rock salt, quite an oomph of peat smoke providing a perhaps fiery foreshadowing, heavily peated indeed by Australian standards.  Ground flannel seeds as notes of freshly plucked fruits slowly come on.

Palate & Finish:

Orchard fruits with a thick syrupy note, think caramelized banana splashed with even more crumbly brown sugar.  The spices apply a constant pressure with the peat smoke fizzling through out.

The peat continues to press on in the finish, charcoal and burnt barbecue seasoning aided by the presence of lemon peels.

Thoughts:

I vaguely remember sampling its sister cask M226 last year, if I remember correctly it wasn’t to my taste.  I was told that this has won a couple of awards.  I then did some browsing, and it would appear that it was in fact the M226 that won all those awards..

Perhaps I just don’t have an Australian palate..

-Nicholas

P.S. cheers to Asit for pointing out that the M225 has in fact also been awarded.

Dram Review: Limeburners Peated

[48.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa. 2017・Official Bottling]

Nose:

Spirit driven and rather piercing on the nose.  Wet grass and mud, yet just a faint presence of smoke.  Wood chips and limestone with a curious red brick note slabbed on top of a base of floral tones.

Palate & Finish:

Sugar melting into butter as the oily spirit takes centre stage; rather green with bits of peat attaching themselves onto the teeth whilst the sugary content runs on.

Hint of menthol with traces of cough syrup residues giving a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Thoughts:

Last year’s peated release was a single cask, this year’s has been vatted; to me this is not necessarily a minus, not every barrel of whisky is destined to be released as a single cask and Australian distilleries in particular need to understand that.

I applaud the Limeburners guys’ foresight in recognising the significance of putting out a good vatted, non-cask strength expression.  The peated release should become more matured and more importantly, more consistent over the next few years.

Side note:  I wonder if the “Australian peating method” will ever catch on?

-Nicholas

Interview with Mr. Cameron Syme of Limeburners

It is no secret that I have a lot of love for Limeburners – musky, powerful and unique Australian whisky which makes the best night cap for me. I was delighted to chat with Mr. Cameron Syme briefly at a Limeburners masterclass ahead of the Whisky Fair 2016 which will be held on 27th August and 28th August. The masterclass featured a couple of new and exciting Limeburners releases: Rye of the Tiger and The Darkest Winter. Here’s the excerpt:

Cameron

The Director of Limeburners – Mr. Cameron Syme

Tell me about your passion for whisky, what have prompted you to start Limeburners?

Cameron: When my father told me we have some family connections to Scottish distillers, I thought it was great. I grew up on a farm, I ran around bare feet on a farm in the WA wheat belt, and I thought, we have got wheat and good water here, we make great beers and that goes all around the world. Remembering that at that stage Fosters was the main sponsor of Formula one, you can see it selling everywhere and it was successful. We also have great wine here too, so I thought why can’t we make great whisky in Australia?

And that started my 16 year journey of whisky research. In those days I didn’t have the money, technical skills and know-how to do it. I wanted to learn those skills and I certainly thought there was a niche in the Australian market – I thought nobody was making whisky here. So I spent a lot of time reading about it, and then when I was working for a multi-national company, whenever there was a deal in London, I would take extra day offs to pop up to Scotland and visit the distilleries. I have been to the Arran distillery with the original distiller over there. That is probably the first place I learnt distilling, then with Bill Lark after that.

 

When you first met Bill Lark and he asked you if you are crazy enough to start a distillery, what were you thinking?

Cameron: Back then I didn’t think I have to be crazy, because I love whisky and whisky making is my passion. So I wondered what he was talking about. Now I know it is the stress of running the distillery, they are the worst economic model that you can run, it is hard. The expenditure – not just the capital cost of setting them up, there is also the operating cost of keeping the distillery going. This is now our 11th year of distilling and making whisky, we should be able to break even for the first time this year. It has been a continuous amount of significant investment.

I think the other thing that Bill was referring to is in the early years, there are many people who will simply overlook Australian whisky. Some say “good whiskies can only come from Scotland and Australia can’t make good whisky”. Last week when I was doing something with the media and there was a Scottish woman there who said just that. So I slipped her a bit of my Limeburners Port Cask, and she was like, “Oh my word, this is fantastic!” – For people to realize we can make great whisky in Australia, it is a really nice thing for me.

 

So why did you pick Albany, the Great Southern region in West Australia as the distillery location?

Cameron: That is actually the result from my 16 years of research. I drove about ten thousand kilometers around the southwest of Western Australia, I have been to a lot of places and looked everywhere. Also, I found two reports commissioned by the WA Agriculture Department and written by Dr. Gladstone in 1968 and 1972, in which the department was reviewing the agriculture and produce potential in the state. His conclusion was the Great Southern region produced the very best food produce in the state – that was one big thing in my mind. Then I looked at other key requirements, a cooler climate, Albany can give me that. The average numbers of days above 41 degrees annually in Albany is 0.1, so one day a decade. It has a nice, cool climate ideal for whisky maturation.

The third important element is a hard water source. This is one point of difference between us and a lot of other Australian distilleries. Many use soft water for brewing, whereas all my research pointed me towards using hard water, our water source comes from limestone aquifers deep beneath our distillery. I think it is all those years of research helped us just to make sure every little step of the distillery is geared towards trying to make the very best whisky and spirits.

Distillery High ResInside Albany Distillery where the magic happens

Can you introduce us the Limeburners releases which will be featuring on Whisky Fair this month?

Cameron: We have the Tiger Snake, which has won the Champion Australian Blended Whiskey in World Whiskies Awards (WWA) this year. We can’t call it a bourbon, because that is a geographic indicator out of the US. It is a grain whisky made from corn, rye, wheat and barley. It is sour mash so we hold some of the pot ale back to adjust the pH of the next brew. It doesn’t have as much corn in the recipe as some of the American bourbons do, because personally, I don’t like a high corn content bourbon, some of them start to get predominate ethyl acetates, and some of the other flavours out of the corn which I’m really not keen on.

Tiger Snake Batch 9 with malted barleyWWA Champion Australian Blended Whiskey “Tiger Snake”

For the second tasting time ever, we have a new rye whisky, “Rye of the Tiger”, which is about 60% rye and 40% made up of malted barley and wheat. A rather unique rye whisky. This may not be ready for the Whisky Fair, as we don’t rush release, and I’m still not happy with the packaging.

Sidenote: I had a quick tasting of the Rye of the Tiger. Loved it. Beautiful sweet pear notes highlighting a delicious rye core, good oomph at 61% ABV, nice transition to a drier, spicy finish. Looking forward to it.

Then we have two cask strength versions, the sherry cask and the port cask, our bread and butter which many should be familiar with. I have also brought along the lightly peated Limeburners, in terms of style, it is more like a Lagavulin 16 rather than an Ardbeg 10 or a Laphroaig Quarter Cask – with a much less punchy level of phenols. It is designed to be an everyday, go-to whisky, for me it should be lighter with less punch-you-in-the-face peatiness going on in it.

Finally I brought along another whisky which is yet to be released. Limeburners “The Darkest Winter” is a pre-release and is a little bit of love coming back from Limeburners to the Oak Barrel. As an Australian distiller we appreciate the support that this intuition has given us. Darkest Winter is a bottling (also available at our cellar door) which will be released in time to feature on the Oak Barrel Whisky Fair. It is a single cask, cask strength whisky which the phenol level sits between our heavily peated and the lightly peated bottlings.

 

What are your plans with Limeburners? I know you have just opened a second distillery in Margaret River last year November.

Cameron: Margaret River is a magical place and it has a very large tourism industry there. They are planning an upgrade to accommodate international flights, I believe it will attract a lot of international tourist over time, and as a small business you need to drive some of the business via cellar door.

Other than Albany and Margaret River distillery, we are working on a third site to allow us to expand production to be able to compete globally. I can’t say too much about that at the moment, but it’s exciting.

The plan is Limeburners single malt whisky will be made in Albany, and some journalists have said the location of the Albany distillery reminds them of Islay; Tiger Snake will move to a different location; Gin, Vodkas, Rye whiskey and other specialty spirits will be made in our Margaret River Distillery. I feel we are very fortunate to potentially have the three distilleries in different iconic locations for us to base in Australia. With the three distilleries I think in 10 years’ time we are able to be compete on the international level, to actually make enough whiskies, which is the biggest problem for us at the moment – to get out there and keep up with the demand.

P1060335

At the door step of Margaret River Distillery 

Distillers and New StillTeam Limeburners and the Margaret River Still

How do you see the now and the future of Limeburners?

Cameron: Our goal is to try and make the best whisky in the world. It’s a lofty goal, but that’s it. We are always chasing and benchmarking ourselves against other Australian distilleries and international distilleries. For me, the Japanese whisky scene is phenomenal, they make magnificent whiskies and have great whisky production setups, so has Scotland, there is great skill and knowledge in Japan and hopefully we can build towards that caliber of whisky production.

I would love to see Limeburners and Tiger Snake actually take up a place in the world stage. At the moment I think when people talk about Australian whisky, they will still go to Tasmania, they will probably say Lark and Sullivans Cove. I would really like to see us up there internationally – as a recognised whisky powerhouse.

Lime Range 1.jpgThe Limeburners Single Malt Whisky line up

To a greater extent, how do you see development of the Aussie whisky industry?

Cameron: Limeburners was the fifth whisky distillery in the country, now I hear there are 58 distilleries operating and over a hundred including those in planning. I think a lot of those might get set up but I can’t imagine many of them will last 10 years because it is a hard business, and it’s also hard to be uncompromising on quality because of the cost. What I expect will happen: there will be a bunch of new distilleries come online, then there will be a rationalisation, unfortunately some of them will go broke because they cannot afford to hold the stocks of whisky that’s required to build a brand. Probably within two decades, we maybe end up with half a dozen or so distilleries, which are sustainable, enjoying a good reputation and have enough stock maturing. Globally, there are lots of new people coming online and drinking whiskies, the middle class especially – so I think the future is very bright.

 

Being the owner of a distillery running for over ten years in Australia, do you have any words to the young and budding Aussie distilleries? 

Cameron: I think I will ask the same question as Bill Lark asked me – are you crazy enough to do it? It is a tough game, but I also think it is the best job in the world if you have the passion. Also, be collaborative – Bill Lark, Patrick McGuire, Spike Dessert and I are the four original founders of the Australian Distillers Association. We all started that on a basis of collaboration, on sharing and helping each other out. Also, don’t cut corners and don’t compromise on quality, because when you get a bad product, everyone will know it. It is something that should be avoided at all cost.

 

Limeburners will be participating the Oak Barrel Whisky Fair 2016 on 27 – 28 August 2016. Photo credit to Great Southern Distilling Co. Also, a special thanks to Mr. Scott Fitzsimons and the Oak Barrel to make this interview possible.

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Limeburners Port Cask M144 Cask Strength

Musings:

I feel blessed to live in the age of Aussie whisky boom, with many craft distillers have produced amazing whiskies that we can be proud of, and Limeburners being one of them. I was blown away when I had my first sip, it was so unique, so gusty! Yes, it does not taste like scotch or Japanese whisky. But why do we have to?? Aussie whiskies can be equally delicious in a different style!

-Esmond

Tasting notes: 

Limeburners Port Cask M144 Cask Strength ☆

Style: Sweet and Musky

Nose:

A powerful whiff of spice, hints of fresh chilli followed by syrupy, port-charged aroma. Short flash of vanilla then we have a firm, buttery malt at the center. A slightly dried barley end note.

Palate:

Warm, red grapes infused malty flavours cruising through the palate. Unique, rustic backbone: A combination of rhubarb, beeswax, celery, slightly earthy and vanilla makes it a really special, and more importantly, soothing sensation. Then we have orange peels, raisins in the mix of powerful spice. Finishes off with a light malty touch.

Finish:

Nice, juicy raisin notes holds on, with a lovely vanilla-honey, oaky twist.

Thoughts:

I always have a soft spot for Limeburners, because I love their rustic, masculine style of whisky. Decent complexity with a strong uncompromising core. Very unique, very powerful stuff. It has been quite a while since my last visit to my Limeburners stash, but after this, I can confirm it will always be my heart-warming, inspiring Aussie dram for any day.
[61% •2015 • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Original Bottling • Barrel Number: M144 • Bottle Number:205 • 221 Bottles]