Distilled on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, Chief’s Son whisky is Australian single malt with proud Scottish roots. Established in 2013 by Stuart and Naomi McIntosh, whose surname in Scottish Gaelic (“Mhic an Tòisich”) means “Son of the Chief”, the distillery’s story is enriched with a clear passion for the McIntosh lineage. So much so that the distillery’s name is an English translation of the family name.
But, the distillery’s story is as much Australian as it is Scottish. Chief’s Son whisky is distilled on Australia’s picturesque Mornington Peninsula, a stretch of land about an hour drive south of Melbourne which is home to some of the world’s best cold climate wineries. Here, some descendants of Clan Mackintosh – a world away from Inverness – distill whisky in the Scottish tradition and call it “Chief’s Son” whisky.
Chief’s Son whisky has a number of expressions, including the “900 Standard”, “900 Pure Malt” and the “900 Sweet Peat”.
Chief’s Son “900 standard”
The “900 standard” is made using a small percentage of peated malt and it is aged in ex-fortified French oak barrels, which explains the whisky’s beautiful reddish copper colour.
Nose: Deceptively similar to an aged Spanish or Australian brandy, which is also aged in ex-sherry barrels, this whisky’s aroma is jam packed with sweet dried fruit, sherry, caramel, wood and spicy cigar tobacco.
Taste: Raw and fiery, the whisky is spirit driven at first but then the wood takes hold with sherry and some bitter tannins.
Finish: Sour, like chocory, with dark chocolate and (strange I know) varnished wood.
Overall: If you want a whisky with a bit of rawness that provides a wollop of sherry and tannic oak, this might just tick the boxes.
Chief’s Son “900 pure malt”
This is an interesting one – it is made using a darker specialty malt and is distilled using fresh whisky wash that has no recycled foreshots and feints (you can read more about how whisky is made by clicking here). Once distilled the spirit is aged in ex-fortified French oak barrels.
Nose: A beautiful clean nose which is fragrant and malty like a stout, with cereals, chocolate/coffee and caramel.
Taste: Slightly oily and buttery, with a really beautiful robust malt flavour, salted caramel, crusty herb bread, cooked apple and a bit of spice (cinnamon and clove).
Finish: Buttery, with shortbread, subtle wood and hints of sticky dessert wine.
Overall: This is a lovely balanced stunner of a whisky showcasing rich malt that sits nicely against a backdrop of fruit and spice from ex-fortified French oak.
Chief’s Son “900 sweet peat”
This whisky is designed to be a mild style peated whisky and it is aged in ex-fortified French oak barrels.
Nose: Apricots, candied citrus peel, and very mild peat and undergrowth.
Taste: Malt with dried fruit, and mild peat.
Finish: Wisps of smoke, dark chocolate and lingering fortified wine.
Overall: Not one for the peat heads, this whisky offers only mild undercurrents of peat and wisps of smoke in what is otherwise a nicely balanced whisky with nuanced sherry flavours.
Thank you to Chief’s Son distillery for the 50ml samples of these whiskies!