If you follow me and read my posts here, you’re probably aware of my affection for world whisky – I’m always curious to see how whisky is developed (and tasted) in other places outside Scotland – different tradition, different processes, casks and weather – always discovering something new.
And this time, conquering a new continent – the deep down under, Australia. I didn’t know much on distilleries and whiskies from Australia, but recently a friend of mine, Andrew Purslow was anointed as Limeburners brand ambassador in UK/Europe and as part of his ‘evil’ plan to conquer the world and spreading out the news of good whisky from Australia, he offered and sent me some Limeburner bottles to try out.
So, what do we know on Limeburners whisky? It comes from Artisan disitillery – the Great Southern Distilling Company in Albany Western Australia (The only distillery in this area). They are up and running since 2005 (9 years and counting), using Southern Wheatbelt Barley as their sole source of barley for their whiskies, and using smaller casks of 100 and 200 liters.
Interesting fact – in Australia, the law dictates that spirit can be called whisky after only 2 years in casks, unlike the customary 3 years limit in Scotland, and due to the hotter climate there, whisky is aged for about 3-9 (2 years in ex-bourbon casks, and then finish in different cask).
so let’s see what can those Australian do (except to play cricket and rugby)?
Limeburners Cask M76 (43%, old Australian ex-Port Cask)
Nose: Initial big hit of sherry-like notes with winey edge (although it’s port cask) with plums and dark fruits skins – this first wave feels strong for 43%, some lactic notes turning into heavy limestone dust with some sharpness – like billowing dust cloud after heavy truck passed by on unpaved road. After a while in the glass, the sherry/wine notes goes a few notches down and we get notes of fruits compote like my grandma was making with apples, grapes and plums shows up and the nose turns sweeter with added menthol and cardamom spiciness.
Palate: Starts with lactic, vinegar notes, definitely feeling younger than the nose, a bit mineral, then a rush of heat revealing a mix of sharpness and sweetness that kicks in with plums and other dark fruits, pencil shavings and spiciness.
Finish: short length, coating of sweet plums with cardamom sharpness and spiciness.
Conclusion: definitely not your average Scotch, it’s a different kind of whisky but a real nice one, its youth shows and it’s a bit flat but shows a lot of promise.
Limeburners Cask M92 (43%, old Australian ex-Sherry cask)
Nose: fino sherry? Sauternes wine? grapes, some tannins, semi-dry sweetness. Again heavy limestone dust, vinegar edge, some honey pop up here and there, green apples.
Palate: drier, winey, sweet , delayed serious heat wave this time leaving with a tingling sensation of wine and gentle sugary limes peels candies.
Finish: Medium length, wine and sweet, candied limes peels.
Conclusion: different whisky from M76, reminds me of Glenmorangie Nectar D’or with young and feisty edge.
Limeburners M61 (60%, ex-bourbon 100L cask, finished in old Australian 100L ex-Port cask)
Nose: again this big limestone dust note but less noticeable here. Also very subdue sherry notes and it takes a while to find distinct smells here, but concentration and time reveals dried sultanas in rum and red berries – all quite sweet with semi-dry feeling and cacao. With water added the cacao is very noticeable and takes front seat, the sherry notes get livelier, some chili spiciness – all in all, very good nose and I think this one was aged for more time then the previous two.
Palate: Sweet and thick, again limestone dust, then heat with sweet molasses and caramel, stewed red fruits, nutmeg, cinnamon – all very rich and lovely. With water added, the palate reveals additional oaky notes while retaining the sweetness (albeit it’s not as sweet as before)
Finish: Long, rich and gentle molasses sweetness accompanied with oak notes and sprinkles of nutmeg and cinnamon spices.
Conclusion: There’s no contest here – M61 is my winner here, a real cracking dram and the best out of the three. Amazing rich and sweet sherry impact (a PX cask?).
No doubt – there’s progress down under and along James Sedgwick distillery in South Africa, Australia joins the crowd of good whisky producers with limeburners producing some real good whisky. The real barrier to their success would be availability, as they produce small quantity of bottles from each barrel due to small barrels size and those bottles aren’t distributed widely and hard to get. So how the hell do I get a bottle of M61??