Callington Mill Distillery is a new distillery located about 80 kilometers north of Hobart in the Tasmanian village of Oatlands which lies on the shores of Lake Dulverton. The distillery was founded by John Ibrahim who had existing ties with Tasmania’s whisky industry. Recently, the distillery released a “Leap of Faith” series which comprises of a selection of eight Tasmanian single malt whiskies – Emulsion, Symmetry, Apera Fusion, Quintessence, Sherry Fusion, Entropy, Tango, and, Audacity.
Interestingly, the distillery boasts that some whiskies in the series are the result of a collaboration with Bill Lark (the “Godfather” of Tasmanian whisky) and Damian Mackey. You can therefore imagine my excitement when I received an email from the distillery inviting me select two whiskies from the series to taste. I chose to try the Quintessence and Entropy because they made use of a variety of Australian wine and fortified wine casks in their respective maturation processes. I then promptly received samples of each whisky in the post.
So, are these whiskies as delicious as they sound?
Quintessence was crafted by Tasmania’s Old Kempton Distillery, which is about 30km south of Oatlands. So, it isn’t Callington Mill Distillery new make. The spirit was matured in a range of cask types.
First, the spirit was matured in small 20 litre Australian tawny casks. To put things into perspective whisky is usually matured in casks that range from 500 litres (eg, a “Sherry Butt”) to 195 litres (a “Barrel”), so a 20 litre cask is extraordinarily small! (as an aside, the whisky industry also uses smaller casks, like the 80 litre “Quarter Casks” (Laphroaig Quarter Cask makes use of these kinds of casks). Using tiny 20 litre casks to mature whisky means that the maturing whisky has more surface contact with wood than it would have in larger casks, with the result that the whisky may have a rapid and stronger extraction and reaction with the wood.
Then, the the whisky was placed in Puncheon tawny port casks (ranging from 300 to 500 litre capacity) from the Douro Valley in Portugal. So, it seems like the idea (at least on paper) was to get lots of wood extraction from the small 20 litre casks and then have a more subtle maturation from the use of the larger Puncheons. There is no information relating to how much time the whisky spent in each cask.
Tasting notes: The nose is rich and decadent, with loads of dried fruit (especially raisins and prunes), tobacco, and soft vanillas. It is just beautiful to smell. The taste follows seamlessly from the nose without any surprises, starting with intense dried fruits and leading to a sweet and syrupy finish of stewed fruits, nutmeg and cinnamon. One fear of using small casks is that the wood extraction might be too intense, but this whisky is jam packed with delicious tawny flavour and, at least to my nose and taste buds, well balanced! Lovely. ABV: 46%.
Entropy was also distilled at Tasmania’s Old Kempton Distillery, but this time “under the watchful eye of business partners John Ibrahim and Bill Lark”. The spirit was then matured in a combination of small tawny and apera casks, and then in a mix of Tokay (now called Topaque), Muscat, and Muscadelle casks from Victoria’s Rutherglen region. There is no information about the size of each cask, or how long the spirit matured in each of the casks.
Tasting notes: The nose is super complex and there is a lot going on – nutmeg, sour berries, cigar tobacco, syrupy maraschino cherries, stewed pears and apples, golden honey. As the whisky rests in the glass, and depending on where I place my nose over the opening of the Glencairn, the aroma morphs and changes. The taste is jammy and syrupy, as pancakes, maple syrup, caramel and raisins develop into candied citrus and then lead into a drying and faintly spicy finish. This whisky is much more complex than the Quintessence, offering layers of aromas and flavours to explore. It is a lovely whisky to unpack and explore, and I had lots of fun tasting its nuances. ABV: 52%.
My thanks to Callington Mill Distillery for the opportunity to taste these two exceptional Tasmanian single malt whiskies!