Saturday, 22 March 2014

Award Winning Whisky

Sullivan's Cove single malt whisky is made in 3 variations: one matured in French oak, one matured in American oak, and the last a 50:50 blend of the previous two. The French oak version has just been named Best Single Malt Whisky in the world:

Best Whisky In The World

All of the previous winners since 2007 have been either Scottish or Japanese,so congratulations to Patrick Maguire and his team at Sullivan's Cove.

The observant among you (and those who refer to the previous post) will see that I used Sullivan's Cove Dual Cask as my test bed for the 'Add A Little Water' experiment, so half the whisky in that experiment was the best in the world. The other half would have been a close second.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Earwig-O. Earwig-O. Earwig-O.

Let the whisky tasting begin. Remember, the object of the exercise is to discover whether the addition of a small amount of water makes the slightest difference to the taste of a non-chill filtered single malt whisky. In the process I will enjoy the flavour of an Australian whisky, Sullivan's Cove Double Cask Single Malt Whisky. Around $100 per bottle, depending on where you get it from, this is certainly not your standard mixer base:

So I gabbed two Luigi Bormioli 'Michelangelo' tumblers and poured a measured 60mm of the whisky into each. Here is the first one:

The other thing to note here is that the 'Michelangelo' tumblers are quite tall, forcing your nose a long way into the glass to get at the whisky. Here is the second one, with exactly 6 drops of water added. The slight difference in colour is only partly due to the water; it's mostly due to a subtly different camera angle.

So the first thing to note is that drinking whisky from these tumblers is a wonderful experience. Because you breath in the whisky long before it reaches your lips, you are already getting a lot of the aromatics through your nose before anything reaches your tongue. The tasting note on the bottle says: " ... a perfect balance between sweet malt and oak that ends with a hint of dark chocolate and rainforest botanic."

So I inhaled a great deal of malt and oak flavours as I snuffled my way into the glass, and, yes, I would have to agree with them, the flavours do seem perfectly balanced. I let the fire of the alcohol settle on my lips and tongue for a few moments, swirled and swallowed. The residual taste in my mouth was very definitely dark chocolate. How remarkable.

But could the addition of a few drops of water possibly improve these exciting flavours? Poisonally I haz gots doubts. Nevertheless, in the spirit of scientific discovery. I went ahead and tried the second one.


The aromas in the glass are very similar, although more distinct, but this time I also detected a faint aroma of wet foliage, which is what they daintily described as rainforest botanic. A beautiful aroma, and very faint. And with the addition of that aroma the whole character of the taste changed.

Tasting the whisky on the tongue provided another subtle change - the whisky is both smoother and more complex, without losing any of the character I tasted in the first one. You almost feel you could chew it, and the chocolate residual taste is slightly more pronounced.

And now as I sit here and write this I have been sipping away at the first one, without the water. Well, what did you think I was going to do with it, tip it down the sink? The flavour smooths as some of the more aggressive volatiles evaporate, but it still doesn't quite approach the flavour of the slightly watered one. I daresay my ability to be objective is somewhat impaired now, but I will be adding a tiny amount of water to this whisky every time I drink it.

And to think I still have several bottles of Australian whisky that need tasting. Wheeee!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A New Calendar

Yes yes yes, I know this has been done dozens of times before and it never works because we're all too conservative. But I'm not sure that is completely true: Australians took to decimal currency with barely a murmur, and we took to the ISO system of measurement without much trouble either (unlike the whingeing poms, who flatly refused to have anything to do with decimal currency and rejected ISO weights and measures, preferring thus to stick to their stupid pounds (of the shillings and pence kind, albeit metricated) and stupid pounds (of the ounces and stones kind, avoirdupois).

Time for a change, I say. Now in most Australian jurisdictions employees get 11 public holidays a year, but many of those holidays have different names between jurisdictions, and happen on different dates. And most of those are less than 2 centuries old; barely enough time to grow a little moss. And as for religious holidays: bah humbug.

A little rationalisation is required. The detritus of the past must be swept away. No more of this "30 days hath September ...", all months will have 30 days, and there will be 12 of them, retaining their current names. That leaves a few days over, depending on leap years, so the catch-up month of Toshvember (feel free to propose alternative names in the comments section below) will have 5 or 6 days, commencing after December. Australians will love Toshvember because, wait for it, every day is a public holiday, with the first day in the month of Toshvember being Christmas.

So what happens with the other public holidays? Simple: the first day of every odd-numbered month (not including Toshvember) is a public holiday. And to eliminate the complaining from the various States that Proclamation Day trumps Inception Day, and both are way better than Waratah Day, all of the public holidays except Christmas Day will be renamed. (I was too much of a coward to take Christmas away from the little kiddies, I just was). Tentative names are Loaf Day 1 - 6.

Oi, I hear you say, what happened to Easter? Wot, all you twice-a-year Christians are feeling deprived of your public holiday celebrating the gratuitous murder of an innocent man 2000 years ago? Well, fear not: you can celebrate Easter as much as you like. In your own time. The percentage of Australians who are genuine church-going Christians is approximately the same percentage as are smokers (a bit under 20%). Different sets of people, of course. So we should all get a day or two off because a minority want to do a bit of praying? Nonsense, away with it.

Finally, to complete the simplification, we have to reduce the number of days in the week. This is so that the number of weeks in a month is a whole number. Now the calendar certainly doesn't require this, but I'm OCD, and I require it - each week has 6 days, and there are 5 weeks in every month except Toshvember, which is a special week in its own right. So the only question remaining is: which day gets blitzed? For a long time I toyed with going with the least controversial solution (bye bye Thursday), but in the end I had to accept that my nerve couldn't fail this time: take a rest, day of the Sun, here's your gold watch. Christians will complain loud and long, of course, but employers will cheer; in fact, I'm predicting a 3% minimum boost to GDP as penalty rates get blitzed.

And it gets better. There are no weekends, every day is a working day except the 1st day of every odd-numbered month. Hey, that's not fair, I hear you say. Yeah, well try telling that to a farmer. Crops and cows don't have days off. Henceforth Australians will work 354 days a year (not counting annual leave, flex days, cousin's funeral, and such). There's probably another 30% boost to GDP right there.

As compensation for these changes the minimum number of weeks off for annual leave rises to 5. Look at that, a whole extra week. Yeah, orright, I know it's only 30 days but that still beats 28.

I'm predicting that at Referendum the Yes vote will get up by a whisker, but with a little bit of campaigning, who knows? It could be a landslide.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Whisky Has Arrived

Actually, the bottles for my first round of whisky tasting arrived a few days ago, I just haven't done anything with them. So here are the first candidates (none chill-filtered as far as I can ascertain).

Three 250ml bottles from Whisky Tasmania: Hellyer's Road Original (centre), Hellyer's Road Slightly Peated (right) and Hellyer's Road Peated (left). All 46% alcohol, all 10 years old (I think, bottle doesn't say). They all appear to me to be exactly the same colour, so the peat is purely flavour.

The other one also comes in three flavours, but not in 250ml:

Tasmania Distillery Sullivan's Cove Rare Tasmanian American and French Oak Double Cask Single Malt Whisky. Catchy name, eh? The three flavours are Single Cask American Oak, Single Cask French Oak, and, illustrated here, Double Cask (a blend of the previous two). 40% alcohol, 13 years old.

I have just read the little note that came with Sullivan's Cove, which confirms that the whisky is not chill filtered, tells me the bottle and cask numbers, and tells me that I can buy my own 20-litre cask if I wish; since my own cask would cost nearly $3,000 I might not take up that opportunity anytime soon.

Tasting will follow after Australia Day.