In New South Wales, sitting to northern side of the Murray River just over the boarder with Victoria, is Corowa Whisky & Chocolate. About eight and a half years ago Corowa decided it wanted to make whisky, but it was not until the day before Father’s day 2018 that it launched two single malts: First Drop and Bosque Verde.
Corowa whisky’s launch was on the first day of Spring on 1 September 2018 at Fitzroy’s Bad Frankie, a casual bar that focuses on making jaffles (fancy Aussie lingo for toasted sandwiches) and serving local spirits.
Corowa’s two new single malts, First Drop and Bosque Verde, are both aged in 100 litre American oak ex-port casks from the Borossa Valley. Despite being aged in the same type of casks, though, they each have very different characters. I’m told they’re also aged for 2 years, which in Australia is the minimum amount of time spirit needs to spend in oak before it can be called whisky.
The First Drop smelled and tasted like liquefied Christmas cake made from raisins and dates, and that heavy dried fruit character from the port wine gradually faded into a licorice finish that mildly dried my palate – from nose to finish this whisky offered seamless progression of sugary goodness, with a nice youthful malty bite!
The Bosque Verde, which translates from Scots Gaelic (and Spanish, interestingly enough!) to “green forest”, was much less sugary than the First Drop and it had a darker winier character. On the nose it was mildly smoky and herbal with heavy aromas of burnt caramel, which seemed to showcase the American oak. On the palate, darker and tannic winy notes from the port dominated with minerality, spice and tannins reminiscent of dark chocolate leading the charge, though the melee of flavours seemed confused and muddled. The wine flavours then softened into a tangy and acidic finish of balsamic, soft smoke and herbal notes with zingy passion fruit.
First Drop and Bosque Verde both exhibited the over-the-top wood-forward characters that seem typical in many Australian whiskies, but they each portrayed very different port wood characteristics – the First Drop had more of the sugars and fruit, whereas the Bosque Verde had more of the tannins, winy tang and spice. Both were surprisingly drinkable at their cask strength which hovered at about 70%abv, and whilst the First Drop was my favourite of the two the Bosque Verde grew on me after a while.