Tag Archives: Belgrove Rye

Aussie Whisky For Australia Day

Australia Day is on January 26th.

What better occasion to celebrate by tasting a few Australian whiskies?

Now I must admit to downing these whiskies a wee while ago – but the memories of them and the great times I enjoyed on my visit down under still linger.

The Aussie whisky scene is built mainly around small batch runs of single cask single malt offerings which change on a regular basis. What I tasted may no longer be available – but the quality I found will undoubtedly continue.

Bad Frankie’s bar in Melbourne specializes in Aussie whisky. I was taken aback by the variety of styles, tastes & flavours of whisky on offer.  I had to return for a 2nd visit the day before my flight home. The experience was Out The Window – cue for a song.

For my 1st visit to Bad Frankie press here.

Again I availed of the 5 samples for $40 – it was 2016 – and chose the following.

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Bakery Hill c/othewhiskeynut

Bakery Hill Classic Malt, 46%

A fine sweet bourbon cask influenced single malt with a good smooth well balanced delivery.

Bakery Hill are one of the larger whisky distilleries operating out of Melbourne. They produce a core range of malts and have gained much appreciation. This whisky stands up very well with any comparisons worldwide.

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Belgrove Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Belgrove Rye Pinot Noir Cask, 63.4%

Just wow! Spicy rye softened by dark fruits in a powerful full strength mouthfeel. A wonderful experience.

Belgrove are a micro distillery in Tasmania using all home grown rye & barley distilled in home made kit by Peter Bignell. Out of this world.

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Southern Coast PX c/othewhiskeynut

Southern Coast PX Cask, 65.5%

A rich dark fruits tasting single malt of character & strength.

Southern Coast is a private bottling for the Odd Whisky Coy in Adelaide. There’s a bit of a story here. A story of money – or lack of it – whisky, fame, fortune & law courts. You can read more here.  All I can say is the whisky tastes fab.

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Iniquity c/othewhiskeynut

Iniquity Batch 004, 46%

A calmer smoother more balanced fruity & fresh whisky.

Iniquity are what came out of the court case above. Nice whisky – but lacked the power of the former cask strength expression.

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Redlands Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Redlands The Old Stable, 46%

A rich inviting nose had an odd taste in the middle but left a lovely spicy finish.

Redlands are another Tasmanian whisky distillery offering limited batch releases of fine quality. This one just didn’t sit right with me.

Having enjoyed the above selection – a full portion of Southern Coast Port Cask at 50% was ordered as the PX cask was such a winner.

This came with an unbelievably dark colour – all natural I was told – and an equally lovely dark & rich tasting experience. Just wonderful.

We also indulged in a Bad Frankie speciality – Lamington jaffles – but these proved a little too dry – unlike the juicy whisky!

Sláinte

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A for Australian Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is A for Australia.

 

WHISKEY NUT DOWN UNDER

An invitation to a wedding in Melbourne was just the hook to lure me into a 3 week discovery of the award winning world of Australian whisky.

To accompany this inaugural  blog of my travels down under – the musical interlude should come as no surprise;

The first couple of days were spent sightseeing in and around the city centre. By chance we ended up doing a river cruise down the Yarra River – which is a wonderful way to see the marvellous sights of Melbourne as well as listen to some historical tales and stories from the entertaining and informative captain of the river cruiser.

Light refreshments were in order afterwards so one of the many Federation Wharf cafe/bars provided the respite. Luckily for me they stocked some Australian whisky – along with a sprinkling of more familiar Irish brands too.

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Whisky selection by the Yarra c/othewhiskeynut

As we were meeting friends later I went straight for the sole Aussie whisky on offer – an award winning Sullivans Cove bottle.

The Double Cask release from Sullivans Cove wasn’t the bottle that won World’s Best Single Malt Whisky in 2014 – but it sure tasted fine to me. Matured in ex-bourbon and French oak casks this delightful single malt from Tasmania was a gentle introduction to the high standard that Australian whisky has reached in only a short period of time.

On leaving the wharf area I noticed one of the bars had advertised an evening with Starward Whisky – along with a small selection of yet more Aussie whisky – my mind urged me to return again soon.

My opportunity arose on the day of the wedding. Herself wanted to rest a while at the Airbnb allowing me to amble down to the Pilgrim Bar with the intention of sampling a few of the expressions on offer in the lovely surroundings overlooking the Yarra.

Of the 5 Aussie whiskeys on display I’d already tasted from 2 of the distilleries so a flight of the remaining 3 was soon arranged along with an entertaining food pairings of peanut butter filled pretzels and red hummus with warm focaccia.

The helpful and informative bar manager Michael soon had the bottles at my table and explained where, whom and how the various expressions had came about before leaving me to enjoy both the food and whisky in the lovely afternoon sun.

In no particular order my tasting trio consisted of;

Raymond B 100% Corn Mash Whiskey hailing from the Hoochery Distillery in Kununurra in Western Australia close to the border with the Northern Territory.

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Raymond B Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Belgrove Rye coming from the whisky heartland of Tasmania and the truly home made distillery of Peter Bignell in Kempton.

DSCF7617 emaolBelgrove Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Hellyers Road Peated Single Malt also from Tasmania but on the northern shores near Burnie.

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Hellyers Road Peated c/othewhiskeynut

Unlike my rather mixed feelings towards bourbon – Australians love it. They are even bigger consumers of the spirit than the USA!  Raymond B’s Corn Mash is a pretty sweet and smooth representation of this category which certainly went down well with me even although it wouldn’t be my preferred style.

Belgrove Rye however is a different kettle of fish altogether. Rye would be my go-to bourbon for it’s more robust taste and lovely spice finish. Belgrove is not like the more mainstream ryes I’ve had. Despite having a pleasingly soft sweet rye nose – there is none of the associated robustness. A more delicate bouquet of flavours swirl around the mouth before a gentle hint of spice wafts through on the finish. Very engaging. I must try out some more releases from this distillery.

Hellyers Road Peated proved to be a more familiar style of whisky in that a powerful peat punch assaulted the nose before the first taste. Despite Tasmania having it’s own peat bogs just like Ireland – Hellyers Road don’t have access to them due to a lack of a mining licence – and so have to import peated barley from Scotland. What makes this whisky standout however is it’s soft, almost fruity finish coming through the peat smoke. Very nice indeed.

Suitably inspired by the lovely whisky – along with the remaining tasty snacks and a pleasingly soothing backdrop of reggae-dub being played on the sound system – I ventured on to a measure of Black Gate Whisky.

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Black Gate Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Black Gate are a husband and wife team from New South Wales producing a range of distilled spirits. This rather young whisky – above 2 years and over in Australia is allowed to be called whisky – had a reassuringly non-peated whisky nose. There was a slight off note on the taste for me however and I wondered if the sherry casks used for maturation could have been the source of this. Pity – as it would have been thumbs up all round for my first Australian whisky tasting!

Michael the bar manager joined me for some more whisky chat and introduced a bottle of Starward Wine Cask by way of inviting me to the upcoming whisky Talk & Taste evening at the bar.

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Starward Wine Cask c/othewhiskeynut

The Starward Solera had excited me when I’d met up with friends in the 1806 Cocktail Bar so a quick taster of the Wine Cask release only confirmed me as a convert to the delights of this local distillery based at Essendon on the Melbourne outskirts.

Rich, full bodied with lovely fruity notes too – this expression is made with Australian wine casks to give it a sense of terroir – it certainly struck a chord with me.

My time at the Pilgrim Bar – being able to sit outside admiring the views, tasting some fine whisky and food, attended to by friendly and helpful staff as well as relaxing to the background music – made up for the 2 days of travelling to get here!

Only a short walk from Flinders St Station – it’s a haven of calm in the heart of Melbourne.

Sláinte.

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Since originally posting this in 2016, Starward have moved into bigger premises closer to the centre of Melbourne.

 

Drinking Australian Whisky @ Bad Frankie, Melbourne.

Australian whisky has come a long way.

Not only in the physical distance it has to travel to reach outside markets – but also in terms of taste, flavour and style.

Fortunately for me an invitation to a wedding in Melbourne (a Tullamore lad & a Melbourne lassie no less) allowed me the opportunity to sample a few of these marvelous malts.

The option of bringing home some of these usually quite expensive bottlings wasn’t really on the cards – so a venue that had a large selection of the local distillate was in order.

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A wall of Aussie whisky & gin @ Bad Frankie c/othewhiskeynut

Bad Frankie – off Smith St in the bohemian suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne – was recommended to me by the very helpful Pilgrim Bar. It didn’t disappoint.

The 86 tram does pass by – but another young couple kindly drove us there. A Melbourne lad & an Athlonian lassie who happened to be a next door neighbour & whose wedding we had attended back in Ireland. It’s a small world!

Bad Frankie is a popular spot. On the night we visited we only just managed to get a table. The atmosphere was very friendly & inviting. Bad Frankie specializes in Australian food, Australian Gin & the main reason it attracted me – Australian Whisky.  Lots of it!

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Which 2 to leave out? c/othewhiskeynut

Handily for me they did a tasting platter of any 5 whiskies of your choice for 40 dollars. (Prices in July 2016) Seb – the owner – & his staff were very attentive and allowed me to pick the ones I wanted.

I narrowed it down to 7 bottles initially. Despite doing my homework before I came to Oz there were still distilleries I hadn’t heard off! Yet here they were – all tempting me.

The final 5 that won my attention on the night were brought to my table. The samples poured and the back story to each bottle in terms of style, flavour, distillery & even the distillation method were explained by the knowledgeable staff.

A varied round of Bad Frankie jaffles were also served up. I went for the ‘Bangers & Mash’. Basically it’s a sealed toasted sandwich filled with a fabulous concoction of tasty fillings. It certainly made a great whisky food pairing!

So what did I sample?

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The final selection. c/othewhiskeynut

Bakery Hill Peated Single Malt 46%

In Australian terms Bakery Hill is quite a large concern. Based in Bayswater on the outskirts of Melbourne this is a local whisky. I found it a very easy going & attractive softly peated single malt.

Limeburners Single Malt Port Cask, 43%

With a name like Limeburners I couldn’t let this one pass me by.  Western Australia’s first single malt whisky distillery had me hooked! A lovely rich fruity number that only confirmed my prediliction to port finishes.

Cradle Mountain 17 Year Old Single Malt, 43%.

Said to be Australia’s oldest single malt from the fabulous island of Tasmania, this one just blew me away with it’s rich complex depth of character & flavours. Stunning stuff!

Mackey Single Malt, 49%

Another Tasmanian malt. After the full on flavour of Cradle Mountain this triple distilled offering came over rather softer & more subtle.

And finally.

Belgrove Peated Rye Whisky, 42%

Yes – that’s right – peated rye. The world’s first. Not only that. It uses rye grown on the distiller’s – Peter Bignell – farm as well as Tasmanian peat to give a truly unique taste. There is a gorgeous soft smoke with the merest hint of rye spice too. Fabulous!

I must admit the above selection truly stunned me. The quality & diversity of Australian whisky is simply amazing. I love it – just like these Aussie rockers!

I should also point out that these bottles were available when I visited. Many Australian distilleries release small batches or single runs in limited numbers. What is available now is probably very different. One thing that will not be different is the fabulous taste offered by the new releases – whether they are new expressions from the above distilleries or new expressions from new distilleries that hadn’t appeared when I was down under.

As is true in many countries – the range of whiskies available in the home market is usually far larger than that on sale outside that country.

If you really want to taste Australian whisky – you have to go there.

And Bad Frankie for me at least – is the prime spot to do that tasting.

Sláinte.

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‘Twas Lashing In Launceston

Despite being July – it’s winter in Tasmania and a heavy depression was forecast bearing snow. We decided to head North out of Hobart for the day to avoid the white stuff.

The spectacular scenery of the Derwent River Valley soon had us in awe prompting many stops for photos. Very quickly we passed by road signs naming towns I knew harboured whisky distilleries. Alas – being the driver for the day meant I had to pass them by!

Cambridge – Home to the Lark Distillery after moving out of it’s Hobart base.

Kempton – The whole farm to bottle ethos of Peter Bignell certainly produces some excellent rye whisky.

Redlands Distillery is also in the town.

Bothwell – The Nant Distillery has it’s picturesque base here.

There were also a myriad of signs beckoning the wine lover to vineyards. Tasmania is truly full of wine, whisky and beer production to please all tastes.

The rains soon came down after we had crossed over Spring Hill Tier which at nearly 400m / 1300ft is one of the highest points on the Midland Highway. Rains so persistent and heavy that it reminded Mrs Whiskey of driving to work in Galway!

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Pert Post Office c/othewhiskeynut

I only got out of the car for a brief photo opportunity at Perth. Partly as the Post Office corrugated iron work architecture appealed to me and also in homage to Perth in Scotland – once a hotbed of whisky distilling and blending being former hometown to Bells, Dewars and Famous Grouse.

By the time we reached our destination of Launceston there were flood reports on the radio. It reminded us of Midlands 103 back home and the flooding in Athlone – although we both had to laugh at the irony of Dangerous Dave on Heart 107.3 as he tended to play the most inoffensive  middle of the road rock ever. We did sing along though – despite the downpour outside! Shame he didn’t play this exciting slice of Aussie pop.

Launceston also happens to have a new whisky distillery in the making – Launceston Distillery – as well as housing the James Boag Brewery of which tours are available.

We chose some lunch however.

Pierre’s Restaurant Brasserie seemed to satisfy both of our requirements. Fine food for herself and some fine whisky for me.

We weren’t disappointed.

The warm sumptuous interior contrasted with the wild wet weather outside. There were quite a few lunchtime diners delaying their departure until the deluge subsided.

I ordered a bowl of hot tasty soup along with a Nant American Oak Sherry Wood Single Cask – well – we had passed by the distillery on the way. The sherry finish gave a sweet body to the rather light yet well balanced single malt.

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Nant American Oak Single Cask c/othewhiskeynut

Hesrelf had a lovely wine and Thai fish cakes.

Tasmania seems to excel in it’s gastronomic delights. Our meal was only a light snack yet was bursting with flavours – much like the Tassie whisky!

I got chatting with some of the friendly helpful staff. They have quite a range of Tassie whisky on show at the front bar. Whisky and gin tasting evenings have been held which were  very well attended and enjoyed. More events supporting locally produced food & drinks are always being explored.It’s a pity we wouldn’t be around for the next extravaganza.

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Pierre’s whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Luckily by the time we had finished our lovely meal the rains had eased allowing us a visit to Launceston Cataract Gorge which was our intended tourist spot of the day.

The heavily wooded steep sided slopes drop down to a raging river below swelled by all the recent precipitation. A cable car ride across the ravine is a high point but sadly it happened to be closed. We made do with a walk along the forested trail. Dusk wasn’t far away and some of the local wildlife made their presence felt.

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Tasmanian Pademelon c/oMrsWhiskey

A quick snap of the animal confirmed it to be a Tasmanian Pademelon. A small type of kangaroo only found in Tasmania and normally nocturnal in it’s habits. Seeing it certainly made us happy to have spotted a few of them in their natural environment.

Not a bad way to end our trip to Launceston – despite the lashing rain!

Slainte

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Whiskey Nut Down Under

An invitation to a wedding in Melbourne was just the hook to lure me into a 3 week discovery of the award winning world of Australian whisky.

To accompany this inaugural  blog of my travels down under – the musical interlude should come as no surprise;

The first couple of days were spent sightseeing in and around the city centre. By chance we ended up doing a river cruise down the Yarra River – which is a wonderful way to see the marvellous sights of Melbourne as well as listen to some historical tales and stories from the entertaining and informative captain of the river cruiser.

Light refreshments were in order afterwards so one of the many Federation Wharf cafe/bars provided the respite. Luckily for me they stocked some Australian whisky – along with a sprinkling of more familiar Irish brands too.

DSCF7567 email
Whisky selection by the Yarra c/othewhiskeynut

As we were meeting friends later I went straight for the sole Aussie whisky on offer – an award winning Sullivans Cove bottle.

The Double Cask release from Sullivans Cove wasn’t the bottle that won World’s Best Single Malt Whisky in 2014 – but it sure tasted fine to me. Matured in ex-bourbon and French oak casks this delightful single malt from Tasmania was a gentle introduction to the high standard that Australian whisky has reached in only a short period of time.

On leaving the wharf area I noticed one of the bars had advertised an evening with Starward Whisky – along with a small selection of yet more Aussie whisky – my mind urged me to return again soon.

My opportunity arose on the day of the wedding. Herself wanted to rest a while at the Airbnb allowing me to amble down to the Pilgrim Bar with the intention of sampling a few of the expressions on offer in the lovely surroundings overlooking the Yarra.

Of the 5 Aussie whiskeys on display I’d already tasted from 2 of the distilleries so a flight of the remaining 3 was soon arranged along with an entertaining food pairings of peanut butter filled pretzels and red hummus with warm focaccia.

The helpful and informative bar manager Michael soon had the bottles at my table and explained where, whom and how the various expressions had came about before leaving me to enjoy both the food and whisky in the lovely afternoon sun.

In no particular order my tasting trio consisted of;

Raymond B 100% Corn Mash Whiskey hailing from the Hoochery Distillery in Kununurra in Western Australia close to the border with the Northern Territory.

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Raymond B Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Belgrove Rye coming from the whisky heartland of Tasmania and the truly home made distillery of Peter Bignell in Kempton.

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Belgrove Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Hellyers Road Peated Single Malt also from Tasmania but on the northern shores near Burnie.

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Hellyers Road Peated c/othewhiskeynut

Unlike my rather mixed feelings towards bourbon – Australians love it. They are even bigger consumers of the spirit than the USA!  Raymond B’s Corn Mash is a pretty sweet and smooth representation of this category which certainly went down well with me even although it wouldn’t be my preferred style.

Belgrove Rye however is a different kettle of fish altogether. Rye would be my go-to bourbon for it’s more robust taste and lovely spice finish. Belgrove is not like the more mainstream ryes I’ve had. Despite having a pleasingly soft sweet rye nose – there is none of the associated robustness. A more delicate bouquet of flavours swirl around the mouth before a gentle hint of spice wafts through on the finish. Very engaging. I must try out some more releases from this distillery.

Hellyers Road Peated proved to be a more familiar style of whisky in that a powerful peat punch assaulted the nose before the first taste. Despite Tasmania having it’s own peat bogs just like Ireland – Hellyers Road don’t have access to them due to a lack of a mining licence – and so have to import peated barley from Scotland. What makes this whisky standout however is it’s soft, almost fruity finish coming through the peat smoke. Very nice indeed.

Suitably inspired by the lovely whisky – along with the remaining tasty snacks and a pleasingly soothing backdrop of reggae-dub being played on the sound system – I ventured on to a measure of Black Gate Whisky.

DSCF7643 email
Black Gate Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Black Gate are a husband and wife team from New South Wales producing a range of distilled spirits. This rather young whisky – above 2 years and over in Australia is allowed to be called whisky – had a reassuringly non-peated whisky nose. There was a slight off note on the taste for me however and I wondered if the sherry casks used for maturation could have been the source of this. Pity – as it would have been thumbs up all round for my first Australian whisky tasting!

Michael the bar manager joined me for some more whisky chat and introduced a bottle of Starward Wine Cask by way of inviting me to the upcoming whisky Talk & Taste evening at the bar.

DSCF7625 email
Starward Wine Cask c/othewhiskeynut

The Starward Solera had excited me when I’d met up with friends in the 1806 Cocktail Bar so a quick taster of the Wine Cask release only confirmed me as a convert to the delights of this local distillery based at Essendon on the Melbourne outskirts.

Rich, full bodied with a lovely fruity notes too – this expression is made with Australian wine casks to give it a sense of terroir – it certainly struck a chord with me.

My time at the Pilgrim Bar – being able to sit outside admiring the views, tasting some fine whisky and food, attended to by friendly and helpful staff as well as relaxing to the background music – made up for the 2 days of travelling to get here!

Only a short walk from Flinders St Station – it’s a haven of calm in the heart of Melbourne.

Slainte.

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