The Big Black Cock Whiskey

Type: Single malt whiskey

Origin: Queensland, Australia 

ABV: 43% 

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Starward Apera and Starward Wine Cask

The new make spirit that becomes Starward whisky is distilled and matured by the New World distillery in Melbourne, Australia.

The New World distillery has two main products, Starward whisky and Starward Wine Cask whisky. Starward whisky is aged in used Apera casks whereas Starward Wine Cask (as the name suggests) is aged in used Australian wine barrels.

Continue reading “Starward Apera and Starward Wine Cask”

What the heck is “moonshine”? A look at Melbourne Moonshine, Crazy Uncle Moonshine and Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine

“Moonshine” is now a fashionable word. You may know it as hooch, bootleg, firewater, rotgut or white lightning, or as just plain old moonshine. Some dictionaries will tell you that “moonshine” is illegally made alcohol while others will explain that it is smuggled liquor that got its name because it used to be transported at night.    

The story of the “moonshiner” seems to start in the 1800s in southern Appalachia, which stretches along Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. During that time, people would illicitly distill spirit because they saw it as the best way to make money from corn crops. Interestingly, according to the Dictionary of American History, the liquor they made was commonly known by locals as “brush whiskey” and “blockade”, and not many people called it “moonshine”. By the time Prohibition came around in the 1920s, “moonshine” was used to describe any illegal liquor.

Moonshine may conjure thoughts of bathtub hooch and smuggler bootleggers but, these days, the stuff is going legit. While perusing bottle shop shelves or online liquor stores you may notice a product labeled “moonshine” which certainly is legal.

What gives? What the heck is this legal breed of “moonshine”?

Continue reading “What the heck is “moonshine”? A look at Melbourne Moonshine, Crazy Uncle Moonshine and Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine”

Hellyer’s Road 10 year old Slightly Peated

Type: Single malt 

Origin: Tasmania, Australia 

ABV: 46.2% 

Malt Mileage rating: stars 4.5

Hellyer’s Road is one of Australia’s trailblazing whisky distilleries, being among one of the first to make Australian whisky. In the years since it started producing single malt, its whisky range has grown beyond a simple core range. It has had limited releases, of which The George is one of my favourites. And, it is also making more peated whisky. 

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A couple of Limeburners: M174 and M84 Western Australian Single Malt Whisky

 

From Albany in Western Australia, the Great Southern Distilling Company has been making “Limeburners” whisky for a number of years now. For me, each batch of Limeburners whisky keeps getting better and better. In this post, I taste two Limeburners whiskies which sound like secret agents for a British spy agency: M174 and M84.  Continue reading “A couple of Limeburners: M174 and M84 Western Australian Single Malt Whisky”

Hellyer’s Road The George Henry’s Legacy Limited Edition

the George

Recommended use: Serve neat

Rating: stars 4.5

Recommendation: Buy it

Type: Single malt

Origin: Tasmania, Australia

ABV: 59.4%

Memories conjured: Tasting red wine from the oak barrel, eating billy tea chocolate, smoking the last third of a cigar, standing in the citrus section of the fruit market, eating honey

Nose:

Fresh citrus peel, mainly orange and mandarin with bursts of pink grapefruit, combine with vanilla, rapadura sugar, dried figs, natural lemonade, fizzy sherbet, effervescent fruit salts, splints of wood and cinnamon.  

Taste:

A sweet entry of tropical fruit, papaya, apple, rock melon and honey is short-lived, as heavier citrus and then big wood notes take hold on the palate with lots of spice, pepper and cinnamon; a real treat for those who appreciate the layers in a woody cigar or mouth puckering Shiraz.

Finish:

A bitter floral and chicory finish with oak tannin, black tea, tobacco, tar and dark chocolate dominate over soft bursts of fresh almond, herbaceous notes, honey and melon.

Bottom line:

Buy it! Finally, rather than a replication of typical Scotch flavours, we have an Australian whisky in its own right; initial sweetness is swept away by oak and tannins, which evolve into a deep complex balanced finish. Overall, this is a distinctive Tasmanian whisky that brings to life that heaven sent ingredient that is integral to whisky: oak. Oftentimes whisky marketers equate woody whisky to chewing wood, but this is an oversimplification of wood notes in whisky. It misses one of the main delights of drinking whisky or any oak matured alcohol – exploring the layers and flavours that oak imparts into alcohol (whether it is wine, whisky, Cognac etc). Granted, like the beaver, I like the taste of wood. Apart from chewing pencils beyond recognition, I savour the pronounced wood flavours in some wine, cigars, chocolate and coffee. So, if the smell of these woody delights gets you salivating like Pavlov’s dogs (or me), then the complex Hellyer’s Road The George may be for you. 

Crazy Uncle Moonshine

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Score: – 

Reaction: 😐

ABV: 40%

Origin: Western Australia, Australia

Price: $70 (Aus) 

Whipper Snapper is one of Australia’s newest whisky distilleries. While its whisky quietly sits maturing in barrels, the distillery has decided to release some of its new make spirit into the market. This new make spirit is creatively named Crazy Uncle Moonshine.

Being “new make”, Crazy Uncle Moonshine is spirit and not whisky. It is put in bottles right after Whipper Snapper distill their wash (fermented grain, similar to a beer), without first putting the spirit in oak barrels to get colour or flavours from oak. This is a fairly common practice for start-up distilleries, which try to sell either gin or vodka to inject their businesses with cash. In this case Whipper Snapper have released their new make, which is basically vodka without filtration through carbon or lots of polishing (this means the new make tends to retain more of the grain flavours from the wash).  

Crazy Uncle Moonshine immediately strikes me as quite a clean new make, beaming with that nutty and husky grain typical of newly distilled grain spirit but softened by underlying hues of crusty bread, pitted Kalamata olives, sugary honey, vanilla, plum jam and blackberry confectionery with mint toothpaste and anise notes. The ethanol seems more pronounced on the palate and the alcohol itself is very sweet and sugary, though what is perhaps most interesting about this new make is its apparent design – heavier more pungent alcohols commonly found in the lower tails of a distillation run seem to have been kept at a minimum, while cleaner and lighter (but not necessarily better) spirit seems to have been preferred. The spirit itself is quite sweet on the entry, and then dries with a bitter bite at mid-palate which fades into a pleasantly long finish of re-surging sugars.

Overall, Crazy Uncle Moonshine is an impressive new make spirit that is easy to drink either neat, in a mixed drink or in a cocktail. It is the kind of spirit that holds up quite nicely in a tumbler mixed with lemonade, a wedge of lime and some sprigs of fresh mint but it is neither a whisky nor the typical example of a vodka – do not expect the oak driven complexity of a whisky or the super polished neutral ethanol rich profile of most vodka. This is grain spirit, so those grain notes do tend to shine through most mixers. While this is very good new make, it is still new make – the boring younger version of whisky before it is placed in oak to mature. Crazy Uncle Moonshine is not something I would buy, but it does offer a glimpse into Whipper Snapper’s new make spirit and the flavour profile of the distillery’s signature character. If it is any indication of what the distillery is putting into barrels for maturation, I cannot wait to see the finished product. This is a new make that I think would mature nicely in oak barrels, but in my opinion it will be quite prone to becoming over-oaked. I will keep my fingers crossed that the distillery nurtures this excellent new make correctly so that it grows up to become a delicious mature (not woody) whisky (or perhaps a “whiskey” with an “e”, as Whipper Snapper have opted to spell the it).  

Whipper Snapper just might bring about some competition in the years to come. I am definitely going to keep my eye on this distillery, because its new make is impressive. I hope its wood policy and maturation is just as good.