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!

Launceston Distillery’s Apera and Tawny matured Tasmanian Single Malt Whisky

The Launceston Distillery is based at Launceston Airport’s Hangar 17, which is just a short drive south of Tasmania’s north coast and some world-class vineyards that sit along the Tamar Valley. Launceston – which is Tasmania’s second largest city behind Hobart – has for a long time been a foodie hub, with nearby wineries and farms producing some of Australia’s finest pinot noir and cheese. Now, the Launceston Distillery seems keen to add whisky to that list.  Continue reading “Launceston Distillery’s Apera and Tawny matured Tasmanian Single Malt Whisky”

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. 

Continue reading “Hellyer’s Road 10 year old Slightly Peated”

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.