Sullivans Cove shot from quiet quality in a special niche corner to global prominence a few years ago thanks to a few well deserved awards. Since then, tracking down a bottle is challenging… even more so to find one with an age statement.
Our merry Mumbai malters were earlier introduced to the Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask and not so long ago our Whisky Ladies went on a Trans Tasmanian Tour which included Sullivans Cove Double Cask, yet these glimpses into what Tasmania has to offer and more specifically Sullivans Cove remain rare opportunities here in Mumbai.
Which made it all the more interesting to discover, sampling completely blind this beauty…
Sullivans Cove 16 year (05 Dec 2000/22 Feb 2016) Barrel No HH0561 47.5% Bottle No 74 of 120, Non-chill filtered, American oak ex-bourbon cask
- Colour – Dark gold
- Nose – Sharp, distinctive, came across as high alcohol initially, then opened into a tropical fruit paradise, some biscuit, compost and wet earth, moss, it then rapidly dissipated closing up… with a few deep sniffs could discern rubber, cashew feni… quite tricky on the nose as it was on the one hand a bit sharp and on the other hand shy… After the 1st sip revealed pears, dry copra, beyond the coconut, the tropical fruits really came to the fore, quite lively… After quite some time and a revisit, there was paan betel nut too!
- Palate – Barley water and really rather sweet, then the spice grows, not harsh but surprisingly forceful, chew and get cinnamon. It had this most amazingly deceptive quality of seeming mellow and yet take a good swish and breath in to find SPICE! Yet equally take a small slow sip and it was like honey water with just a dash of pepper, so so smooth
- Finish – A funny sort of finish… An immediate ‘flash’ then just holds you gently for quite some time
- Water – Most were not tempted. Those that did found it took the sharp and spice mellowing it to modest and nice.
While initially the nose gave a sense of alcohol strength, the palate clearly put this into perspective with a determination it must be below 48%. There were many aspects of this whisky that were ‘tricky’ – in a very interesting way. It also was one that demanded time and attention. Sit back, relax and enjoy the dialectic.
With some whiskies, we find the flavour profiles are fairly universal – accessible to practically anyone in the world. In cases like this Sullivans Cove, we found many qualities that fit perfectly with the palate of Indian fruits, spices, country liquor and deserts. Which made it all the more meaningful and memorable to enjoy in India.
What else do we know about this Tasmanian dram? Here is what they say…
To create this exceptional Single Malt Whisky our distiller has selected the highest quality local ingredients and American Oak ex-Bourbon casks. The award winning result is elegant and creamy exhibiting sweet malt, vanilla and citrus notes with a lingering finish. Taste our splendid isolation, indulge your senses.
Our host admitted this bottle set him back a pretty penny. I do believe something like $400 was mentioned, in large part as a rather hefty “Angel’s Share” made the remaining liquid all the more precious.
What did we try in our “pedigree” evening?
- From Ireland – Midleton Barry Crocket No 10205 46%
- From Australia – Sullivans Cove 16 year (2000/2016) 47.5%
- From Campbeltown – Kilkerran 8 years Peated Cask Strength 56.2%
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