On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a glass of 23rd Street Distillery Hybrid Whisk(e)y. Australians love the whole fusion cuisine thing and this old world-meets-new world-meets-even newer world blend is no exception. The mad tinkerers at 23rd Street take 5yo-ish Scotch whisky from Scotland and splice it together with 2yo-ish bourbon whiskey from America (hence ‘whisk(e)y’) and then finish it off in ex-bourbon casks at their digs in South Australia.
The Hybrid lives up to the whole Jekyll and Hyde vibe, with the Scotch and bourbon both playing off each other. The nose is light and sharp, with competing woody, floral and fruity notes, while the palate starts off smooth and honeyed before developing into a hot, sweet, bright and lingering finish. The Hybrid is proof that the antipodes are still the real wild west (south?) of whisky and (nearly) anything goes.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a glass of Starward Wine Cask whisky. Made in Port Melbourne by the hardest working crew in Aussie whisky, as it’s name suggests the Wine Cask (now rebranded as the Nova by the looks of things) is matured in ex-shiraz barrels from the Barossa Valley.
Thanks to the casking choice the nose is spicy with overtones of grilled meat, cinnamon and wine gums, while the flavour on the mouth is sweet and tanninic, with a honey and fennel seed finish. Starward proves that not only can Australian whisky taste great, it can also be affordable too.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a glass of Hellyers Road Distillery 10yo Original whisky. Made at the largest craft distillery in Australia, which happens to be just up the road in my hometown of Burnie, the 10yo is now something of an endangered breed. Why? Because head distiller Mark Littler and his crew have decided to take the curious step of replacing it with a 15yo!
Distilled in giant stainless-steel stills and aged in ex-bourbon casks, the nose has that classic sweet, buttery, nutty Hellyers Road profile, while the palate is sharp and peppery with a toffee and rose-water base. The 10yo shows that dairy farmers also know a thing or two about making single malt whisky.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a glass of Upshot Whiskey. Made practically on the other side of the world in Western Australia by the funky folks at Whipper Snapper Distillery (they once created a quinoa whiskey just for fun), the Upshot Whiskey gets that extra ‘e’ because it’s essentially Aussie ‘Bourbon’.
Scratch out the corresponding section in the booklet to reveal some fun facts about each dram.
Using a mash bill of WA-grown corn, wheat and malted barley and aged for at least two years in heavily charred American oak, the Upshot cranks up the vanilla and caramel on the nose, while the palate sports tannins, cereal and hot steel. Park a deckchair on Cottesloe Beach on a scorching WA summer’s day and wriggle your toes in the sand while you relax with a dram of Upshot.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… well actually that’s a bit of a lie. It was technically for my birthday, which is in November, but it is true that my lovely wife gave me an Australian whisky advent calendar* created by the good folks at White Possum for my 30th (ugh, yes, lower middle-age is now upon me).
So fellow Wafflers, load up the esky in the old rusty Holden ute, chuck a snag on the barbie for Uncle Bruce and join me for the next 25 days as I embark on a corker of an Aussie Christmas whisky adventure, opening little cardboard windows one at a time. Oh, and hopefully drinking some Aussie drams too