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: Sullivans Cove Double Cask Bottled for Whisky + Alement (DC-WA1)

[50.3%・10 Years Old・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling for Whisky + Alement・Cask No. HH0042, TD0225・Limited Release of 218 Bottles]

Nose:

Rather a grand presence of thick, gooey honey, buttero leather, lemon zest and French vanilla, slightly burnt butter off the crust of pastries fresh out of the oven with some hay and coconut flakes at the back.

Palate & Finish:

A pleasant more-ish delivery of fine honey with some playful crystallised sultana and creamy mango pudding dressed with salted caramel.  Toffee treacle dripping across walnuts and pecans as the malt retains this certain crispness.

The syrupy note seasoned with nutmeg stretches out for a lovely earthy finish.

Thoughts:

A project led by Ms. Hayman and Mr. White of Whisky + Alement, a drammer’s take on Sullivans Cove. My takeaway? get experienced people involved.

A proud Australian distillery owner often wears many hats, he or she is typically a brewer, distiller, distillery manager, blender and marketer amongst other things.  Working day in and day out at a distillery would naturally give a unique perspective on how to best distill a spirit however the same cannot be said about curating an expression: Which casks to pick? What’s the vatting ratio? Which ABV to bottle at?  These are just a few questions that often go unanswered resulting in a release of a single cask cask strength Australian whisky by default.

I have great respect for both Brooke and Julian’s palates and I think their years at Whisky + Alement allowed them to offer an unique take; perhaps they were inspired by a certain small batch whisky they have come across previously and wanted to see if the same formula would work with Sullivans Cove casks.  One have to drink a thousand whiskies to know a thousand ways to make a whisky.

I have always liked the idea of a small batch at 80:20 ratio ever since the Last Vatted Malt.  For the Double Cask, the Tawny cask added to the depth and I really like this sweet, earthy note it carries.  The age also makes the whisky more graceful in my opinion.

And so I say this is my favourite Australian whisky of 2018.

☆ [Recommended]

Cheers Julian for helping me acquire the bottle, it’s much appreciated.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Liquor Library and La Maison du Whisky Sullivans Cove 12 Years Old

[58.0%・12 Years Old・Bottled in 2018・Liquor Library and La Maison du Whisky Bottling・Cask No. TD0114・Single Cask Release of 268 Bottles]

Nose:

Concentrated grape juice and crystallised raisin sugar, the exotic musk marries the buttery and syrupy goodness.

Palate & Finish:

Incredible burst of pleasurable wine-y sweetness gelling with rich toffee and sticky honey, as a buttery chewiness moves in. Peanut brittle and Vienna almonds coated with a concentrated muscat grape nectar.

Finishes nutty and dry, a herbal hint much like a lip bite, long and satisfying.

Thoughts:

Like a perfect marriage between wholesome honey and late harvest Riesling.

Cask well picked as an independent bottling.

☆ [Recommended]

Cheers Jose for helping me acquire the bottle, it’s much appreciated.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Thornbury Spirits Co. 1st Release The Forgotten Casks 17 Years Old (Sullivans Cove)

Style: Sweet and Herbal

Nose:

Herbal liquorice fuses with elder flower on the nose. A layer of vanilla oatmeal slipping underneath while overripe tropical fruits and sticky orange drops forming a solid core in the middle. Peppermint, sages and rosemary converge to hit spicy high note. Sweet and spicy aroma.

Palate:

Orange drops underlined by a bright herbal tone. Sweet liquorice thoroughly painted vanilla malt. Minty herbs, citrus orange and tropical fruits combine to build a fruity and herbal core. Pecans, a touch of caramel and malt to finish.

Finish:

Less fruity and more malty. Reminiscence of herbal signatures, sweet and quiet.

Thoughts:

Well, it has been a while since I have last visited Sullivans Cove. This one here is all herbal and confectionaries which is well polished overtime. Personally, this reminds me the earlier form of Sullivans Cove, and, to a greater extent, Aussie distillates. Looking back at this, it is quite astounding that how much some of the distilleries have deviated from the “prototype” since then. But this one here is also pretty nice after all these years of maturation, not bad.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

[52.5% / Independent Bottling / Aged 17 Years / 98 of 98 Bottles / A Vat of 2 Bourbon Casks/ Cask Number: HH0363 and HH0367/ Cask Strength/ t]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Sullivans Cove American Oak Single Cask HH027

Nose:
Elegant perfumed nose. Soft, intoxicating floral honey notes closely followed by the steaming fragrance of glutinous rice wrapped with oily reed leaves. Delicious! Creamy sweet and also very refreshing aroma. Back there we have vanilla cream puffs and a drier touch of cornflakes, rice cracker and coconut shreds. Very beautiful.

Palate:
Much softer on the palate. A quick flick of burning spice, with the pineapple sweetness took a short while to catch up. Then it has transcended to a graceful blend of floral, fruity and vanilla delivered delicately. Thinned honey and coconut cream notes are highlighted with subtle orange notes at the back palate. Hint of green bamboo leaves and mochi rice cake towards the end.

Finish:
Citrus, vanilla, floral and cornflake notes all tangled together. Long tender sweetness lingers.

Thoughts:
Impressive. Exquisite aroma with great complexity, delicate texture and simply delicious. I feel it is not only the American oak, but also the spirit has made a great contribution to the flavours which makes it rather unique. I quite like the current abv level (47.5%), which gives a nice spice control, although I feel the palate delivery is quite reduced as a result. Nontheless a pretty good drop. Very close to 1 star.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

[47.5% • 2015 • Original Bottling • Single Cask • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Cask Number: HH0277 • Bottle Number: 94 • 230 Bottles • Approximately Aged 15 Years • t+]

-Esmond

Dram Review: The Exile Aged 15 Years

[62.0%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 2000・Bottled Circa 2016・Tasmania Distillery・The Exile Bottling・Cask No. HH 556・Single Cask Release of 344 Bottles]

Nose:

Blueberry jam with the oak heavily foreshadowing what’s likely to be the main theme.. Quite “Port”-y and slightly vegetal, dark and musky with the thick honey note gushing out and the lemon infused cola fizzling away.

Palate & Finish:

Hot initially but the palate soon settles down for a jammy chewiness of stewed prunes. The oak has a strong presence through out with an oily Pho tone. Cola and aged lemon peels simmering away with the brown sugar crystallising. There is a slight gingery infusion that lifts the tone on the mid-palate.

Touch of menthol, the stewed prunes come back again but then the woody and earthy elements set in to dry things out.

Thoughts:

Quite aptly named I thought, certainly feels like an exile rather than a self-imposed exile in the sense that the cask was seemingly selected by circumstances and not necessarily by choice.

A journeyman cask that is arguably past its best years, but the “Port” influence is gorgeous and is breathing in a lot of energy to revitalise the dram even though it is ultimately a touch burdened by the wood..

It’s one of the earlier private casks that got bottled under the current Australian whisky climate and perhaps one of the better ones as well.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

Dram Review: Heartwood @#$%^&*

[62.5%・10 Years Old・Bottled in 2017・Tasmania Distillery・Heartwood Bottling・Cask No. TD 124・Single Cask Release of 337 Bottles]

Nose:

A lower than usual ABV doesn’t mean this feels tamer than your normal Heartwood.  Still quite big with that familiar “Sherry” heaviness coming through; forceful to the point it feels like being pressed by Tim into a thoroughly drenched barrel.  Also quite vegetative on the side.

Palate & Finish:

Good mouthfeel, very thick with the two first fill “Sherry” casks working overtime, raisins and sultana through and through.  It’s singular but at the same time it provides a basic gratification.

A solid follow through that continues to be very syrupy.

Thoughts:

Three years of being rigorously “Heartwooded” in first fill “Sherry” casks obviously paid off in the sense that the whisky profile has completely been changed, now heavily showcasing what the finishing casks have to offer and it’s now big and bold enough for the ordinary Heartwood fans.

I do wonder what this whisky was like previously, it seems like any trace of its past existence has been mercilessly redacted.

[Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

-Nicholas