spirit categories

Scotch Whiskies:
Blended whiskies
Grain whiskies
Single malts
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Vatted malts
World Whiskies:
Australia <
Other Beverages:
Gin & Jenever

Great Outback whisky from Australia

From a Scottish perspective, Australia (and Tasmania) are literally on the other side
of the world. Nevertheless, the 'antipodeans' have a long tradition when it comes to
distilling whisky. This is caused in part by the fact that the Australian continent was
initially colonised by emigrants from the British isles, including Scots- and Irishmen.
These emigrants brought the knowledge and traditions of distillation with them.
As a result, Australia was one of the first countries outside Scotland & Ireland
where whisky was produced in relatively large quantities. In that respect, the
situation is comparable with that of the USA and Canada - large numbers of
Scottish and Irish emigrants travelled to these countries as well. However.
due to the harsh climate of the Australian mainland these first Australian
whisky distilleries in the 19th century were not very successful.
None of the (relatively small) distilleries that were founded at that
time managed to survive into recent times, and a number of other
distilleries that were founded in the 20th century have now been
closed as well. If I'm not mistaken, these closed whisky distilleries
include Booie Range, Great Outback, Small Concern (producers of
Cradle Mountain), Southern Coast Distillers and Yalumba Winery
(producers of Smith's Angaston whisky). On the other hand, the
21st century saw the launch of a number of new distilleries.
At the moment, the list of active Australian distilleries includes:

  • Bakery Hill (the distillery is located in North Balwyn, Victoria)
  • Belgrove Distillery (from Tasmania; they use a 500 litre pot still heated by biodiesel)
  • Castle Glen (from Queensland; the use of 'Glen' in their name may trigger a response of the SWA)
  • Great Southern Distillery (from Western Australia, producing the Limeburners Single Malt Whisky)
  • Hellyers Road Distillery (located in Burnie, Tasmania; currently Australia's largest distillery)
  • Lark Distillery (from Hobart; founded in 1992 it was the first Tasmanian distillery in over a century)
  • Nant Distillery (located in Bothwell, Tasmania; producing both single malts and vatted malts)
  • New World Whisky Distillery (from Victoria; a.k.a. Victoria Valley, producing Starward whisky)
  • Old Hobart Distillery (located in Hobart, Tasmania; founded in 2005)
  • Tasmania Distillery (from Cambridge, Tasmania; producing Sullivans Cove whisky since 1994)
  • Timboon Railway Shed Distillery (from Victoria, producing whisky under different labels)
  • William McHenry & Sons (located in Port Arthur, Tasmania; Australia's southernmost distillery)

Lark 4th Release 2002 Single Cask (40%, Lark distillery, Tasmania)
Nose: Paint thinner. Alcohol. Dust. Whiff of fruits? Spices. Flowers and some liquorice.
Pleasant enough. It grows fruitier and sweeter over time. Yoghurt? Blueberries?
With a few drops of water the fruity elements became stronger. Soap perfume?
Taste: Yeah, that's much more like whisky - or bourbon at least. Rough palate. Coffee?
Soft fruity elements. Water melon? A cool, bourbony burn. Beer? A straight shooter.
Score: 67 points - the nose starts out rather unremarkable but picks up after a while. The palate's just fine.
If somebody had served me this stuff 'blind', I would have guessed it was some sort of high-end bourbon or rye whisky.
Friendlier than any Canadian or American whiskey I've tried and a fair match for many Irish malts.

Lark NAS Cask Strength (58%, OB, C#LD47, Clear bottle, Bottled 2007, Tasmania, 50cl)
Nose: Sweeter than the regular proof expression. Celery. Wonderful deep sweetness. Some citrus.
Episodic development like the other one. Peanuts?  It becomes ridiculously fruity, almost like a liqueur.
Taste: The same youthfulness that I found in cask LD51. Smooth start, easily drinkable at cask strength.
Fruit is dominant here as well, until the wood takes over. Salmiak. Nutmeg. Hint of perfume. Hot finish.
Score: 76 points - like the whisky bottled at 46% there were some rough edges I can forgive.

Lark NAS Distillers Selection (46%, OB, C#LD51, Black bottle, Bottled 2007, Tasmania, 50cl)
Nose: Very strong wood influence on the surface at first, settling down after a few seconds. Straw?
Gentle sweetness; more floral than fruity. Not a lot of definition - or staying power for that matter.
Bakery aroma's. I like the profile, although a spirity harshness keeps popping up from the background.
Not much else seemed to happen for twenty minutes - and then suddenly some organics popped out.
Weird, it seemed to 'take a break' after ten minutes before coming back sweeter, smokier and spicier.
The development goes on after that. Sweet cardboard - if that makes any sense? Vaguely metallic.
Taste: Smooth start. Betrays its gentle age on the palate - but not disturbingly so. Fresh fruitiness.
In fact, it's VERY fruity - almost like Austrian fruit schnapps. Quite some smoke in the finish. Cologne?
Nice, but even at 'just' 46% there's a roughness in the finish that's taken away in most older malts.
Like the nose, that taste takes a long time to reveal all its secrets. Coffee & mocca. Interesting.
Score: 75 points - which is a big step forward from the '2002' bottling that received a score of 64 points.
This one started around 70 points and had a weak spell after fifteen minutes but crawled back into the 70's.
Sure, it has some 'flaws', but the whisky has so much character that you remain entertained throughout.

Lark Distillery NAS 'Single Malt Whisky' (58%, OB, C#LD31, Bottled 2008, Tasmania)
Nose: Big. Sweet. Cough syrup. Some rough edges, but very pleasant. Smoke and some organics emerging after a minute.
The profile mimics some old, heavily sherried Speysiders. Freshly burnt coffee? Over time more complexities emerge.
In fact, this keeps evolving over time (especially the organics); it pays off to spend at least half an hour with your glass.
Taste: Very fruity - along with plenty of wood, smoke and tannins. A little odd perhaps, but this is a good, expressive whisky.
The start feels slightly gritty (rhubarb?), but it grows much smoother in the solid, sweet centre. Really excellent stuff.
What's more, this is perfectly drinkable at cask strength - I didn't dare to add water because the palate felt so great.
Score: 85 points - really excellent work from the Lark family in Tasmania. More honest whisky than many modern Scotches...

Smith's Angaston 7yo 1997 (40%, OB, Australia)
Nose: Very fruity with some organics in the undercurrent. Surprisingly complex! Diesel? Rubber.
Not much further development after the first few minutes, but even as it is, it's very interesting.
Taste: Fruits here as well, subtle sweetness in the centre. Quite an attack, but a good mouth feel.
Score: 82 points - despite a few 'flaws' this made the jump into the 80's after fifteen minutes...
Much better than the average score (75 points) for Scotland, so definitely worth a try if you can find it.
And IF you find it, make sure to spend at least an hour with your glass.

Sullivans Cove NAS Australian Premium Single Malt Whisky (40%, OB, Australia)
Nose: Wow!!! Coffee and fruits and pipe tobacco. Strange oriental organics as well.
Quite spectacular. Wet cardboard. Is this what Davin calls musty? Wet milk powder.
It really took me back to my youth, visiting farms and feeding the cattle.
The fruity elements grow stronger over time. Now I get some smoke as well.
Taste: Waaah! This is a major disappointment after the great nose. Flat and soapy.
However, that's just the start; it develops into a full, meaty and fruity centre. Long finish.
Score: 74 points - and it might have made the 80's if it hadn't been for the soapy, perfumy start.
A very nice surprise from down under - a few steps up from the 2yo I tasted last year.
A bottle of this could last you for many years - just sniff it and don't drink too much.

Tasting notes for a few Australian whiskies

Meanwhile, several other brand new Australian whisky distilleries are being developed - and they are trying to revive another.
Some of the creative folk behind the silent Southern Coast distillery are expected to continue as distillers (but as a different company).
If I ever get to chance to try any new whisky expressions from Australia (or if I hear about any other significant developments in the world
of Australian whisky) I will make sure to update this page...

Laphroaig 1974
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Whisky (and whiskey) from Australia / Tasmania

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This 'Deviant Drams' section is a mere diversion from the main focus of the Malt Madness website: single malt (Scotch) whisky.
My knowledge of and experience with world whiskies and other alcoholic beverages is relatively limited, but I have plenty to say
about single malt Scotch whisky. For example, there's a Beginner's Guide to Single Malts with 10 pages filled with lots of useful
information for (relative) beginners and the 'Distillery Data' section has profiles for over a hundred malt whisky distilleries.
Clicking on one of the links below will take you directly to the distillery profile of that particular whisky distillery in Scotland.
Aberfeldy - Aberlour - Ailsa Bay - Allt A' Bhainne - Ardbeg - Ardmore - Arran - Auchentoshan - Auchroisk - Aultmore
Balblair - Balmenach - Balvenie - Banff - Ben Nevis - Benriach - Benrinnes - Benromach - Ben Wyvis - Bladnoch
Blair Athol - Bowmore - Brackla - Braeval - Brora - Bruichladdich - Bunnahabhain - Caol Ila - Caperdonich - Cardhu
Clynelish - Coleburn - Convalmore - Cragganmore - Craigellachie - Daftmill - Dailuaine - Dallas Dhu - Dalmore
Dalwhinnie - Deanston - Dufftown - Edradour - Fettercairn - Glen Albyn - Glenallachie - Glenburgie - Glencadam
Glencraig - Glen Deveron - Glendronach - Glendullan - Glen Elgin - Glenfarclas - Glenfiddich - Glen Flagler
Glen Garioch - Glenglassaugh - Glengoyne - Glen Grant - Glengyle - Glen Keith - Glenkinchie - Glenlivet - Glenlochy
Glenlossie - Glen Mhor - Glenmorangie - Glen Moray - Glen Ord - Glenrothes - Glen Scotia - Glen Spey - Glentauchers
Glenturret - Glenugie - Glenury Royal - Highland Park - Imperial - Inchgower - Inverleven - Isle of Jura - Kilchoman
Killyloch - Kinclaith - Kininvie - Knockando - Knockdhu - Ladyburn - Lagavulin - Laphroaig - Ledaig - Linkwood
Linlithgow - Littlemill - Loch Lomond - Lochnagar - Lochside - Longmorn - Macallan - MacDuff - Mannochmore - Millburn
Miltonduff - Mortlach - Mosstowie - North Port / Brechin - Oban - Old Pulteney - Pittyvaich - Port Ellen - Pulteney
Rosebank - Royal Brackla - Royal Lochnagar - Saint Magdalene - Scapa - Speyburn - Speyside - Springbank - Strathisla
Strathmill - Talisker - Tamdhu - Tamnavulin - Teaninich - Tobermory - Tomatin - Tomintoul - Tormore - Tullibardine