Whisky Magazine Issue 96
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Chris Middleton has a background in global whisky marketing, freelance whisky writing and is director of a recently established whisky distillery in Austalia
Australian malt renaissance is more than a decade old and a distinctive flavour profile is starting to emerge. More than half a dozen brands are on the market: Lark, Sullivans Cove, Helleyer's Road, Bakery Hill, Limeburners, Smith's, Timboon and Nant, plus independent bottlings of The Quoll and Trapper's Hut. At international whisky tasting competitions this difference is also being detected, with sensory descriptors of being more malty, oily, floral, rich and ‘fat'.
What makes Australian whisky different is shaped by a few big environmental factors and a set of smaller processes influenced by distillers. These manufacturing variations can become significant when compared to whisky distilling practises in Britain and the Americas. Notably, the dozen operating distilleries are artisanal, not industrial. Most have been started by individuals who knew little about distilling yet came with enquiring, open minds and also an absence of tradition. They looked with modern, unencumbered eyes, for knowledge of Australia's once prosperous distilling history vanished decades ago. Most of the pot stills were engineered in Australia, modelled on Scottish designs, although this is not regarded as a significant factor in shaping flavour, merely manufacturing provenance. Nor is Australia's pristine water sources believed to play a perceptible role in the whisky character.
The common value all distillers exhibit is the focus on the craft, versus economics. They have strived to nurture fla...