We’re still in Tasmania this evening for our fourth dram from the advent calendar, and still at Hellyers Road. But we go a bit older and unpeated this time, so it will be interesting to see what’s different (to the one in the back saying “This one is not peated”, thank you, I’ve already said it, please listen next time) compared to the 2004 Peated from yesterday. As I said yesterday, Hellyers Road sits near Burning, in Tasmania, and was founded in 1999. Australian whisky, including Tasmanian, has really exploded since the beginning of the 21st century. Before the year 2000, there were only four distilleries in Australia, of which three of them were in Tasmania. Lark, founded in 1992, Sullivans Cove, founded in 1994 and Hellyers Road saw the light of day and the spirit flow in Tasmania. The fourth one is Bakery Hill, founded in 1998 in Victoria. And what about now? Well, now there are more than 70 distilleries running or about to, including the very well-known Starward founded in 2004. The exponential rate at which distilleries pop of the ground with whisky flowing soon after is mind-boggling. However, many of those distilleries are not widely distributed yet and I may not have the chance to try what they do. But today I’m back at Hellyers Road, and I’m very happy about that.
Hellyers Road 2002 review
So as I said, back at Hellyers Road. This time we have a single cask, distilled in 2002 and matured for 18 years in the American oak ex-Bourbon cask #2332.01, before it was emptied out to give 190 bottles at 60.6%. Like yesterday’s release, La Maison Du Whisky selected it, thought the bottle says Europe exclusive. You can find it in several German and French shops between 230€ and 240€. Oh and its bien sûr unchill filtered and not coloured.
Immediately, there’s a burst of exotic fruits. Passion fruits, papaya, pineapple, mango, you name it. Wood spices, acacia honey and vanilla clearly show the influence of the bourbon cask, with maybe a little char too. Quince, elderflower and candied orange.
After reduction, the fruits kind of disappear, or at least take the back seat, a bit hidden by the cask.
The palate starts strangely chocolaty then gets quite spicy, lots of pepper, chili pepper and ginger. The mouthfeel is thick and waxy, the alcohol bites the tongue a little bit, but this is really good. The exotic fruits are still there, though a bit less obvious and precise than on the nose. There’s a bitterness probably coming from the cask, it gives me the impression of licking a stave on the charred side, after it held Irish stout (I know, that’s surprising, but there are my tasting notes). Floral notes too, don’t ask me which flowers, though.
Dilution provides a creamy mouthfeel and milk chocolate, spices staying quite present.
Long, woody and fruity, passion fruits, pepper, clove.
So, what do I think? First, Hellyers Road makes really very good whisky. I love exotic fruits, and this whisky does not disappoint on that. Both the nose and the palate once again deliver, though the nose is above the palate, as these exotic fruits are more present. On the palate, there’s quite an alcohol bite, even after adding a few drops of water, while I don’t think this time either the nose benefits from reduction. Very good whisky anyway, but I prefer yesterday’s 16yo peated one.