Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask #537

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Distillery/Brand: Sullivans Cove | Region: Australia | ABV: 47.5% | Color: Deep Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 87

Review
I read about Sullivan Cove’s award winning single cask whisky only quite recently after it won some of the top accolades at the World Whisky Awards this year.

I don’t really care much for awards, mind you, but this one truly deserved all the praise it was getting. It was cask #525 which was responsible for taking the whisky world by storm.

I was lucky enough to sample that and was suitably impressed. OK extremely impressed. Here’s a link to that review if you don’t believe me.

Now I was quite curious to see how the other casks would play out. After a bit of hunting I managed to get my hands on Cask 537.

While quite competent it does not hold a candle to the award-winning Cask 525 which, in my opinion, is asking for a lot. And it is precisely the reason why whisky fascinates me so much. The same spirit matured in exactly the same way can yield such contrasting results.

Nose: Clove. Cinnamon. Chocolate. Red plums. Lots of berries. Black peppers. Mocha. Caramel Marchiato. Red grapes. Overwhelming red apple. Sandalwood. It’s a nice unusual offering with the French Oak imparting a lot of spices.

Palate: Not a lot on offer here. Oak. Apples. Brown dates. Chocolate mocha. Cinnamon. And did I mention oak? Doesn’t deliver the same level balance and intensity as 525.

Finish: Medium. Cinnamon. Oak.

While this sample may not have lived up to it’s brothers’ stellar reputation I respect the art of the single cask process. Spirit the way it’s supposed to be.

Rating: 87

Sullivans Cove French Oak

Sullivans Cove French Oak
Distillery/Brand: Sullivans Cove | Region: Australia | ABV: 47.5% | Color: Young Sauternes
Nose: 24 | Taste: 25 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 97

Review
Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on in Tasmania?

I can swear the whisky distillers Down Under have made a pact with the Devil. In exchange for their souls, and the souls of their loved ones, they are being given magical powers to create the most delicious whisky ever made.

I thought after tasting the Overeem Port Matured Cask Strength, another Australian Devil spawn, I would not taste a better whisky this year.

I am so elated to be wrong.

Winner of the World Whisky Awards 2014 this spirit is any where between 11 to 13 years old. Matured in French Oak Port casks my particular sample is one of 516 bottles to emerge from winning cask No. 525.

Founded in 1995 in, you guessed it, Sullivans Cove this distillery is now home to one of my favorite whiskies.

Nose: Dark chocolate. Black peppers with a touch of cinnamon. Scented tobacco. Warm hazelnut toffee covered in praline sauce. Dark fig jam and natural caramel. Very high quality leather. This is such a beautifully intense nose. It’s like nosing a 60% whisky only to realize it’s not even 48%.

Palate: Crisp maple syrup. Black pepper. Dark jam. Mild tobacco leaf. Roasted nuts and dry figs. Dark raisins covered in chocolate. The creamy, perfectly balanced delivery will make you salivate. While the whisky’s in your mouth.

Finish: Gloriously long with a mocha caramel swirl.

Truly one of the great whiskies of the year and, for once, I whole heartedly agree with the truckload of accolades this wee dram has won.

I am so moving to Tasmania….

Rating: 97

Overeem Port Matured (Cask Strength)

Overeem PortCS

Distillery/Brand: Old Hobart | ABV: 60% | Region: Tasmania, Australia | Colour: Copper
Nose: 24 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 96

Review
Now this is what I call a stunner! Where I come from the phrase when you are knocked off your ass with awesomeness is ‘Uff ho!’

I had the chance to taste this spirit from a sample bottling (which is why I don’t know the cask number of this single cask spirit) and was completely blown away.

I’m pretty sure other casks will be in the same brilliant league as this sample.

Old Hobart, in Tasmania (Australia) got it’s license in 2005 and is the brainchild of one Casey Overeem who tried his hand at micro-distilling many winters ago in Norway and decided that was his dream. And boy what a dream!

There are two versions of the same spirit served up at different strengths. One at a measly 43% and this one at a perfect 60%. Well, to be fair I haven’t tried the 43% offering but I’m not sure if I want to after the 60%.

Matured in French Port Quarter Casks the spirit cannot be more than 8 years old. Could be younger but certainly not older given that the distillery started working in 2005. I’m guessing hot Australian summers are key to such intense maturation at a young age. Very much like the various Amruts out there.

Nose: Deep deep caramel, chocolate, roasted cocoa beans, mocha chino and dark oranges. Like stepping into a marmalade barista. Creamy and amazingly robust nose feel. Crumbling wet brown sugar with a hint of woody rose and dark honey. Finally warm clove to round off a stunning nose.

For want of a better description I feel the nose is smack in the middle of Amrut Intermediate Sherry and Amrut Portonova. You’ll know what I mean when you stick your nose in the glass.

Palate: Now let me tell you something. In my hometown there is a small bakery called the Bombay Bakery (no, I’m not from Bombay in case you’re wondering). They have been there for over a hundred years and they sell the most amazing Coffee Cake you will have ever tried in your life! This palate is a carbon copy of that cake! It literally took me back to my childhood.

The creamy coffee cake explodes on your palate amid a shower of cloves and cardamom. Moist ginger digestives lathered in maple and chocolate syrup with a dusting of cinnamon powder. A beautifully textured experience.

Finish: Long and gorgeous. Lots of spice. Lot of chocolate. And, oh, that Bombay Bakery Coffee Cake.

I had heard good things about this whisky. Just how good it was going to be I had no idea.

Rating: 96