The difficulties with Australian Whisky, and the joy when you find it.

Earlier this year, my Dad and Stepmum went to Australia for a four week tour. My request for his journey was that he seek out a bottle of Australian whisky to bring back for me. For a while now, the Antipodean whisky industry has been making waves, and this was my first opportunity to get some straight from their shores…

However, my request did not come without some difficulty - it seems it is far easier to buy Scottish whisky in Australia, from the opposite side of the world, than it is to buy local. Most smaller supermarkets and bottle shops simply did not sell local and were often dismissive of the quality. However, undeterred, my Dad persevered.

Eventually, nearing the end of the trip, he managed to find a bottle of Starward whisky and in Duty Free on the trip home collected a bottle from Hellyers Road as well. Although he had completed his assignment, he felt that the difficulties faced deserved a second reward as well.

The Starboard Distillery is in Melbourne, Victoria and they proudly proclaim themselves as a New World Distillery. Their barley is all Australian, they age entirely in Australian casks and the flavour certainly shows in their approach. This whisky, the Starward Wine Cask, has won awards as both Australia’s Best Single Malt Whisky, and Best Craft Distilled Whisky in the world. It is like no Scotch I’ve ever tried, and that’s really the point. It is very fresh, very fruity, with almost a hint of bourbon sweetness in there. My father’s response on trying it was that only if pushed, he would declare it whisky, but as a drink, he absolutely loved it. However, he is a traditionalist Scotch drinker, so I accept his point, with caveats. It is incredibly drinkable and definitely worth seeking out.

The Hellyers Road Whisky he brought back was the Lightly Peated variant of their Single Malt. Hellyers Road is based in Tasmania, an area which feels very Scottish both in scenery and temperament. This is a blend of their heavily peated (about 20%) and non peated. It tastes much more like a traditional Scotch, something along the lines of a Highland or Speyside peated malt more than an island, and there is none of that bromine type flavour so reminiscent of the island seaweed. Once again, it is delicious; however, due to the difficulties in sourcing a bottle there, I’m not sure I would necessarily say it’s a must find, but if you come across a bottle easily, it should come into your possession.

I am deeply grateful to my Dad for bringing me these bottles (he has been rewarded with samples of both) and I love getting to know different  whisky palates from around the globe. 

On a separate note, the fitness gallery has had something of a reshuffle and a few new pictures uploaded, so please swing by the “takes” section of the website to check those out, and of course, a very happy new year!

ben matthews