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.
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!