Cape Byron The Original Single Malt Australian Whisky (700ml)
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  • Batch may vary

Cape Byron The Original Single Malt Australian Whisky (700ml)

New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
$125. 00
$1500.00 Dozen
ABV: 47%

Co-created by one of Scotland’s most awarded Master Distillers, Jim McEwan, together with Cape Byron Distillery Co-founder and distiller Eddie Brook are two new Australian takes on a classic Scottish single malt. Many readers will already know of Jim McEwan who has more than fifty years of experience in the whisky business, having worked at Bowmore for 38 years, before overseeing the rebirth of Bruichladdich and most recently helping to get new Islay distillery, Ardnahoe, off the ground.

Two editions are on offer: A Chardonnay barrelled limited edition, and this, the Cape Byron 'Original', aged in Scotland's traditional vessel of choice: American oak x-Bourbon casks. Says Brook, “They go together like a match made in heaven. [The whisky is] not overly dominated by the oak, it’s letting the spirit sing, and we’re seeing this marriage.”

What partly accounts for the distinctive style is that the pair have resisted the temptation to use smaller barrels to ‘accelerate’ the ageing process. It's the opposite approach of most Australian distillers. “...We’ve got this climate that gives us faster maturation. Now that’s great, but it can also get too much, you can get too much tannin and then over-oaking in your whisky,” Brook explains. "To avoid this, we only mature in full format barrels, between 200 to 300 litres in size". Specially designed warehousing facilities further offset Byron’s temperature extremes.

According to McEwan, another factor is the distillery's proximity to the coast. “Walk down the barrel room... you’re getting that marine character and influence coming through" he says. "That moisture is falling on the oak staves, and slowly but surely, there’ll be a residue of salt and eventually as the whisky moves in and out, as the temperature increases, the alcohol will expand and it will touch the salt, and pull it back, and that brings a unique marine freshness to the spirit – quite different from anything else...”

No surprise that McEwan reckons fans of Bruichladdich might taste some similarities in the Cape Byron spirit. “They’re not dissimilar. There’s no peat, [Eddie’s] using American oak, I used a lot of American oak Bourbon casks as well. I’ve used wine casks – and you’ve got all the wine casks there. There’s a similarity there between what I was doing in Islay and what Eddie’s doing here."

As for the taste? Can't say there are many like this - either here or abroad - but you can appreciate why McEwen draws comparisons with Bruichladdich. Cape Byron's Original is a creamy, near voluptuous malt that defies its age. Peaches and cream come through with sweet barley and shortbread on the nose. The co-mingling of dried mango and juicy malt with the Bourbon vanilla aspects is nicely done, and there's a spicy edge adding vibrancy. At the finish, more peaches and cream, dried mango and a little grilled pineapple, pepper and coastal freshness develop. It's a whisky less about overt complexity, all about generous mouthfeel and precocious flavour. No doubt that equation will change over time. Right now, the creative forces behind the project have guaranteed one of the more compelling Aussie releases in recent years. Matured for three years in 200 litre ex-Buffalo Trace Bourbon casks. 47% Alc./Vol. Non chill filtered. Batch 001 tasted.

Notes from the producers... The colour of a Byron Bay sunset. The palate offers soft vanilla, creme brulee and biscotti characters, layered over distinct notes of pear, coconut and buttery macadamia.