Tag Archives: Peter Bignell

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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MONA And The Art Of Distillation

After a morning sampling Tasmanian single malts at the Lark Cellar Door Bar and Nant Whiskey Bar, Mrs Whiskey rang to say I had 10 minutes to make the pier for the ferry to MONA – Museum of Old And New Art- and our cultural afternoon out.

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Amoosing cow! c/othewhiskeynut

The ferry itself is a funky catamaran which has it’s own art installations in the shape of painted plastic sheep & a cow on the aft deck which amused the passengers very much.

Talking about funky – who remembers this slice of 80’s Aussie pop?

I was even more amused to find out the museum also produces it’s own wine and beer – how cool is that? – so what better way of enjoying the scenic boat trip up the Derwent River than with a glass of Moorilla wine or Moo Brew beer?

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Moo Brew Dark Ale c/othewhiskeynut

Coming in a very stylish wine-bottle shaped glass container with a trendy design – I just hoped the contents were equally as good. The Dark Ale didn’t disappoint. Rich, black & heavy with a noticeable malt content and sweet caramel notes on top – just my kind of art. Herself enjoyed the wine too!

Arriving at the rocky peninsular the museum is set on the rains luckily abated to allow us to view the outdoor exhibits. A life-size sculpture of a low loader truck & trailer complete with cement mixer on top stole centre stage. Having driven the real thing for my living the detail amazed me – along with my curious mind wondering how many tonnes of steel rod went into making it and how did they get it here?

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Intricate Iron Work c/othewhiskeynut

Moving inside we descended down into the sandstone bedrock of the small hill the museum is sat on. A spectacular underground gallery awaits your exploration housing all sorts of weird, wonderful and thought provoking art in it’s myriad of forms.

A waterfall display spelled out random words against the bare walls using a giant inkjet type assembly –  but with water – impressed us for starters. Very simple design – yet stunning to see and hear.

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The labyrinth of MONA c/othewhiskeynut

We wondered the labyrinth of rooms & spaces alternately gazing in awe – or being nonplussed – by the variety and cornucopia of art within. Some we loved – others we didn’t – but either way it instilled a reaction or questioning of what it was all about.

As usual a break was in order. This is where MONA excelled itself – at least in my eyes. The Void Bar on the basement floor set at the foot of the sandstone dungeon had a fine array of Tasmanian whisky to try!

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The Void Bar @ MONA c/othewhiskeynut

Not what I was expecting in a museum.

How could I refuse?

Having driven past Peter Bignell’s distillery at Kempton the other day I just had to try his Belgrove White Rye expression. It’s an unaged new spirit – hence the clear liquid. At  40% the young alcohol content is noticeable but the nose is full of rotting fruit notes, sweet but enticing, and a slight rye spice too. The rye comes through more on the taste along with pleasing fruit & spice. Not what I’d expect from a new spirit. It’s different, it’s unique, it’s got terroir and provenance in abundance and it’s utterly enticing. I could have sat for the rest of the afternoon in this fabulous setting enjoying the fruits of Peter Bignell’s art of distillation!

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Belgrove White Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Herself – despite enjoying the wine & nibbles we had – insisted we see some more of the real art before catching the ferry home.

The fat Porsche did take my eye – but most of the others passed me by as the cumulative affect of art overload together with some lovely whiskies was beginning to take it’s toll. I did wonder though how the human model remained so still displaying the tattoo art on his back and would have gone up to ask him were it not for the museum attended close by. 

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Human art – looking forward to a glass of Tassie whisky at the bar below? c/othewhiskeynut

By the time we exited darkness was already falling. There was much to discuss on the ferry home as to what we had viewed and experienced at MONA.

The ferry ride?

The art?

The scenery?

For me it was a combination of all those things topped off with a Moo Brew ale and a stunning Tasmanian  whisky that made the day.

What a fitting venue to enjoy the art of whisky distillation in!

Sláinte.

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