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: Fleurieu River’s End

[53.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 200 Bottles]

Nose:

Starts off with a robust oomph of raisins and dark chocolate, maraschino cherries leading a spike of sugary acidity with the roasted barley brushed with some fennel seed oil taking a backseat. After some time, the fruits begin to soften and unfold, more buttery toffee sauce being drizzled atop the cereal and the dram develops a lovely musk of dark fruits and vanilla.

Palate & Finish:

The luscious juiciness of Port led dark fruits bursts through, but the characters of the spirit remain intact, layers of barley and toffee being smoothened over to convey a silky satisfying sweetness. Wee hints of ginger cured dark fruits with the oak subtly drawing more attention to the malt.

A clean and delicious aftertaste of malty goodness, toasted chocolate flavoured granola.

Thoughts:

In my view Fleurieu whiskies are all about the malt, but here the gooey dark fruits from Seppeltsfield Port truly elevated the dram.

☆ [Recommended]

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Andrews for the dram, 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

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

Dram Review: Corowa First Drop

[63.1%・NAS・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 320 Bottles]

Nose:

Hot and spicy with some caramel and Christmas spices, youthful spirit wrapping some marshmallow.

Palate & Finish:

Sweet and big prune juices, your typical Aussie Port cask matures whisky packing ample of spices with some blueberry and blackcurrant coulis to go with the prunes.

A swift finish with some menthol and hint of chocolate..

Thoughts:

The First Drop fares better than the Bosque Verde in my opinion, again I think later batches of these American oak Port barrels should have much more depth.

Thank you Mr. Fitzsimons for the sample.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Corowa Bosque Verde

[56.6%・2 Years Old・Distilled in 2016・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Very grassy and still very young, new make-y with pinewood flavoured wax polish. The Port barrels left a faint touch on the nose, with a mixture of meat broth, wet carpet and some toasted seeds seeping through.

Palate & Finish:

Quite acidic on the palate, syrup cured raw strawberries and toffee syrup that turns bitter quite quickly with some spirit hotness coming through.

A rather shy finish with just hint of strawberry sugar carrying through.

Thoughts:

As a New South Welshman it’s great to see another NSW distillery entering the scene. Some minor mishaps are not uncommon from a young distillery’s first few releases. In any case Corowa appears to be here to stay and they should be able to iron things out in due course, welcome to the game!

Thank you Mr. Fitzsimons for the sample.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Spring Bay The Rheban Cask Strength (Cask No. 14)

[58.0%・Distilled in 2016・Bottled in 2018・2 Years Old・Official Bottling・Cask No. 14・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

There is some fattiness to the nose, but otherwise it’s surprisingly quite flat, some wood influence in mix with some chalk and cream cheese with the dram getting lemony in time.

Palate & Finish:

Quite sweet on the palate, too sweet perhaps with some wine-y elements: ripe strawberries, red apples and honey, surprisingly mellow for a cask strength and not too robust.

A mild honey finish with the malt just gradually disperses.

Thoughts:

This really doesn’t drink like a 58%, I kind of expected something more.. may be the next batch will build on that easy-going nature..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Starward Ginger Beer Cask #2

[NAS・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release]

This whisky has been matured in a ginger beer cask. I can’t think of anything more fitting than this to pay homage to the Australian culture.

Nose:

Gingery nose, ginger beer with a touch of vanilla. You are getting what you’ve paid for. Fresh white oak in the backend with cumin smoke.

Palate & Finish:

Spiciness hits first in the palate, then you get the ginger beer and light vanilla coming through.

Gingery notes carrying in for a light spicy finish.

Thoughts:

Definitely a light body whisky with some kick to it, good for a summertime arvo.

-Nicholas

 

Dram Review: Lark Limited Release 43%

[43.0% • Original Bottling • Bottled Circa 2012-2014 • No Age Statement • Limited Edition]

Nose:

The port is evident on the nose. You get a splash of spice and notes of fresh cucumber.

Palate & Finish:

Spicy at first, but then you get all these summer berries, fresh apples and vanilla grains. Incredible.

Warming and lingering, the fructose leaves you mesmerising.

Thoughts:

A.K.A. “Berry picking in Tasmania”

 

-Nicholas