Hellyer’s Road 12 year old Tasmanian single malt whisky

The story of the Hellyer’s Road distillery starts near an Australian town called Bernie, which is near the northwest coast of Tasmania. In 1827 Henry Hellyer cleared bushland near Bernie to create a trail which later became a road. In 1999 a group of dairy farmers established a whisky distillery on that road, and they fittingly called this distillery “Hellyer’s Road”.

Now, in 2020, Hellyer’s Road whisky is among the largest selling Australian whisky brands on the globe with markets in not only in Australia, but also in Europe and Japan. But despite this large-scale success, my observation of Hellyer’s Road is that it maintains a down-to-earth Australian attitude which lets the product speak for itself – there is no spin about climate or wood or over-the-top marketing, they just make consistently tasty whisky at reasonable prices. Come to think of it, that just might be a reflection of the dairy farming culture!

Sitting on my tasting table, ready for a swig, is a bottle of Hellyer’s Road Original 12 year old single malt whisky. This line was originally released in 2014 and it was a bit of a milestone in Australian whisky making, because until this release it was rare for Australian distilleries to disclose the age of their whiskies. The Hellyer’s Road Original 12 year old single malt whisky is made from spirit which is distilled from a wash of Tasmanian barley and then aged for 12 years in American Oak ex-bourbon casks.

ABV: 46.2%

Colour: Golden honey

Smell: Toffee, vanilla, citrus peel (especially lemon), tobacco, tea bags and spices, such as cinnamon. There is always deep and unique citrus character in Hellyer’s Road whiskies which I really love.

Taste: Heavy citrus peel and oils (a mix of orange, lemon and grapefruit) come first, then the wood influence provides toffee, vanilla and nicely integrated tannins which taste like tea leaves and dark chocolate.

Finish: Toasty, with lingering wood-smoke and cocoa, tobacco and fading sweet orange peel.

Overall: This is a full-bodied and lip-smacking dram with a weighty core of rich citrus and beautifully integrated wood notes from the American oak ex-bourbon casks. The only thing missing is a Tasmanian brie to pair it with!

Chief’s Son Single Malt Whisky from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula: “Standard”, “Pure Malt” and “Sweet Peat”

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.

ABV: 45%

Colour: Copper

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.

Colour: Copper

ABV: 45%

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.

ABV: 45%

Colour: Copper

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!

M&H “Classic” Whisky: A taste of Israel’s first single malt

The M&H distillery claims to be the first whisky distillery in Israel. Its name “M&H” stands for “Milk and Honey”, which on my guess is a reference to the biblical Israel being referred to as the land of milk and honey. The M&H distillery distils and matures its whisky in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, which sits near the coast of the Mediterranean sea.

The distillery’s flagship single malt is called, perhaps predictably, the “Classic”. It is comprised of whiskies that have been aged in ex-bourbon and ex-red wine “STR” casks. The term “STR” stands for Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred. So, an STR cask would be a cask that had some of the wine stained oak shaved away before it is toasted and re-charred. This shaving off of some of the red wine staining, as you’d expect, turns the cask into something between a red-wine cask and a new “virgin” oak cask.

ABV: 46%

Colour: Pale straw

Smell: Light and fragrant, with very clean cereal notes and the smell of a barley rich wash. This is a young whisky which has some soft red berry, caramel and wood tannin aromas.

Taste: The whisky has big bold orange peel flavour and surprisingly heavier red wine flavours than the nose suggests, but what particularly dominates this whisky is the taste of oak – there are lots of tannins that taste like tea leaves and cocoa, and towards the finish the wood takes on a peppery and spicy tone.

Finish: Tannin rich, the finish tastes of tea leaves and spicy tobacco.

Overall: This is a young whisky with lots of mouth puckering tannic wood flavour, perhaps a reflection that when whisky ages in warmer climates like Israel it will have more interaction with oak casks than it would in colder climates, like Scotland. Climate seems to influence the way whisky matures, and this new Israeli whisky is yet another example of the way warmer climates can produce unique whiskies that can be wood driven and yet still retain the malty profile of a young single malt whisky.

Drinking our way through Italy

The Colosseum in Rome from our hotel

It was June 2018, and we had zigzagged our way around the cobble stone streets of Rome, the hilly Tuscan towns of Pienza and Montepulciano, the picturesque seaside village of Lacco Ameno in Ischia, the ruins of Pompeii, and, finally, the chaotic city of Naples.

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Templeton Rye Signature Reserve

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Source: supplied

About one hundred years ago, shortly after the United States introduced prohibition, the residents of Templeton, a small town in Iowa, started bootlegging hooch made from molasses. It wasn’t long until this hooch found its way to the speakeasies of Chicago, where, the story goes, it was discovered by mobster Al Capone. Back in 1920s Templeton, stills remained hidden under pigeon pens and code (such as white horses being placed in front of farmhouses) was used to signal that new batches were ready for distribution. When prohibition ended in 1933, though, Templeton’s story fell silent and the brand was forgotten as whiskey makers eventually dominated the (now legal) market. But, in 2006, a brand of whiskey called “Templeton Rye” was created to pay tribute to Templeton’s bootlegging past, and now this (very much legal) whiskey is available in the United States, Canada and Australia.

 

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Templeton distillery. Source: supplied

Continue reading “Templeton Rye Signature Reserve”

Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold Double Barreled Tennessee Whiskey

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The story of Jack Daniel’s started in 1864 when Jasper Newton (“Jack”) Daniel began making a charcoal filtered whiskey which was simply referred to as “Old No. 7”. It took about a century for Old No. 7 to start making its mark on the world stage from the 1960s, with ingenious marketing taking advantage of the global obsession with American rock n’ roll, blues and punk rock to create demand for authentically American Tennessee whiskey. In the late 1980s the distillery started to expand its range, introducing the twice filtered Gentleman Jack and then in the 1990s the first bottles of Single Barrel Select were drawn from their barrels, all under the watch of Master Distiller Jimmy Bedford. Jeff Arnett took the reigns as Master Distiller in 2007, and what followed was the introduction of several new Jack Daniel’s whiskies – Tennessee Honey in 2011 (my wife’s absolute favourite whiskey), Single Barrel Rye in 2015 (which was the distillery’s first new mash recipe since old No. 7), the cinnamon flavoured Tennessee Fire in 2015 and Tennessee Rye in 2017. Limited edition Jack Daniel’s whiskies are also released, from the Sinatra Select (one of my personal favourite whiskies) to the currently available No. 27 Gold which is being reviewed in this post. Continue reading “Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold Double Barreled Tennessee Whiskey”

Tasting a trio of show-stopping whiskies from Compass Box: The Circle, The No Name No. 2, and The Affinity

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A trio of whiskies from Compass Box

Compass Box are whiskymakers who craft whisky by blending whiskies from different distilleries and batches, thereby creating unique flavour profiles from what is essentially a concoction of “ingredient” whiskies. This is the art of whisky blending. Blending to create a whisky that matches the blue print in one’s mind is much harder than it sounds or looks (as I learned aboard the Glenfiddich Whisky Wanderer!). Trying to unpack a whisky blender’s creation is even harder. To help unravel their complex whiskies, though, Compass Box provide a break down of the “ingredients” that go into each of their whiskies. Trying to piece together the puzzle of a Compass Box whisky by smell and taste is, in my experience, a lot of fun.

The newly released trio of limited edition Compass Box whiskies that sit before me ready to be tasted are Compass Box The Circle, Compass Box Affinity, and Compass Box No Name No. 2.

Continue reading “Tasting a trio of show-stopping whiskies from Compass Box: The Circle, The No Name No. 2, and The Affinity”

Tasting an almighty trinity from Teeling whiskey: Teeling 24 year old single malt, 17 year old single malt and Stout Cask

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Three samples of Teeling whiskey arrive at Maltmileage headquarters

Three samples of the lastest limited release small batch Teeling whiskies from Ireland have made their way to maltmileage headquarters in Melbourne: Teeling 24 year old single malt, Teeling 17 year old single malt Jim Barry Shiraz Cask Collaboration, and Teeling whiskey stout cask collaboration with Galway Bay brewery. Now, with three whiskey glasses sitting ready, it is time to taste these whiskies from the Emerald Isle.  Continue reading “Tasting an almighty trinity from Teeling whiskey: Teeling 24 year old single malt, 17 year old single malt and Stout Cask”

All aboard the Glenfiddich Whisky Wanderer!

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All aboard the Glenfiddich Whisky Wanderer

On a particularly cold Friday evening I ventured into the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show on Glenfiddich’s invitation to board the Glenfiddich Whisky Wanderer, a 1972 vintage bus which has been converted into a whisky bar on wheels! Australian chef Matt Moran introduced us to what he loved about Glenfiddich and then the distillery’s brand ambassador, Luke Sanderson, took us on board for a very special evening of whisky tasting and blending, and to craft our very own Glenfiddich single malt from the three core ingredients used to create Glenfiddich’s 15 year old solera.

Ready to join me? All aboard!

Continue reading “All aboard the Glenfiddich Whisky Wanderer!”

Hunter Laing & Co releases Scarabus Specially Selected at Feis Ile 2019

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Hunter Laing & Co, the family owned Scotch whisky independent bottler, is releasing Scarabus Specially Selected at Feis Ile 2019, the Islay Festival of Music and Whisky.  Continue reading “Hunter Laing & Co releases Scarabus Specially Selected at Feis Ile 2019”