In our October tasting session, nestled between the light Aultmore 2000 (Gordon & MacPhail) and the rich, complex and delightfully mature seeming Benromach 100′ Proof 10 year, was an unusual whisky from Tasmania.
Now, I must admit, I’ve only tried one whisky from Australia so far… the much coveted Sullivans Cove that catapulted Tasmanian whiskies to the top of the world (in Jim Murray’s ever not so humble opinion!).
However thanks to the lads over at Whisky Waffle, I’ve read with great jealousy their reviews on various Tasmanian whiskies. Hence distilleries like Lark, Nant, Overeem and – yes – Hellyers Road are distressingly familiar names yet completely out of reach… until our host managed to acquire the Hellyers Road 12 year.
Hellyers Road 12 year 46.2% (Tasmania)
- Colour – Bright gold
- Nose – Instant overripe banana and jackfruit, a little cod liver oil, bursting with character not at all subtle. Gives you a flash. Yet interesting. Unique. Good then not so good with that undertone of overripe on the edge of rot. Quite vegetal. Needed to wait a bit. Soaked rice like sake. Sweet raisins. Just kept evolving. After sampling, had that red pill coating that pretends to be sweet but is actually medicine. A little wood furniture smell after adding water.
- Palate – Boom! In your face coffee, the dry bitterness of tea, chocolate, not sweet, a little overpowering, a flash that is very bitter, mocha without sugar, then a little grape peel. Such a contrast between the nose and palate.
- Finish – Think green tea.
- Water – The coffee explodes because of the spice. Then once it settles… we could hear remarks like “I’m absolutely loving it!” “Me too!” Clearly this is way to have this whisky – just a few drops of water. And the finish? It becomes fruity rather than bitter tea alone… After some time, that little bit of pani adds magic – transforming it from being a bit of a difficult character to becoming completely enjoyable.
Impressions – This is a very challenging whisky. Not one for novices. If you have an evening with a true whisky explorer – this is without a doubt one you would like to pull out and enjoy together.
Speculation – Who cares about age! Not Scottish. Not Indian though has a certain boldness of character. Stands out as unique. Guessed the strength to be mid-40s.
As our conversation continued, we kept discovering something new, another element… from not quite being sure whether we liked it to clear converts. This is definitely not a whisky for the faint hearted. It demands attention, time and an opportunity to grow on you. Once you get past its highly unusual contrasting qualities, it reveals remarkable depth and character. There is simply something ‘more‘ going on here.
For those not familiar with Hellyers Road, it is the largest single malt whisky distillery in Australia. Once upon a time (that’s 1825), a gent named Henry Hellyer came to the interiors of north west Tasmania as chief surveyor of the Van Dieman’s Land Company.
As the story goes
- The 12 Year carries all the attributes of its highly-acclaimed predecessors, aged in American Oak, non-chill filtered and bottled at 46.2% alc/vol.
- Our distilling process ensures an enhanced single malt flavour delivering a well-balanced and very smooth spirit.
- Released in 2014, this superb whisky imbues a calming softness, reflective of its age. An elegant, gentle spirit that extols an oily sweetness over tones of vanilla and citrus. The mellow aftertaste provides reward for effort and a subtle reminder of the pleasures this hallmark spirit embodies.
Here’s what others have to say:
- Whisky Waffle – and explore more of their posts on Hellyers Road!
- Malt Mileage
- Master of Malt – Intro to the distillery & other expressions
- Or could check out RalfyStuff’s take on the peated expression
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