Morris Rutherglen Smoked Muscat Single Malt Australian Whisky (700ml)
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Morris Rutherglen Smoked Muscat Single Malt Australian Whisky (700ml)

Rutherglen, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
$189. 99
$2279.88 Dozen
ABV: 48.3%

A radical, eccentric and never to be repeated release combining x-red wine and muscat barrels with alligator-char barriques.

Here’s another Australian distillery pushing traditional single malt in a genuinely new direction. If anything quite like it has been tried in the world of whisky, we're not aware of it - but may stand corrected. A primary maturation in 225L & 300L medium char & heavy char French & American oak barriques that held South Australian Cabernet and/or Shiraz was followed with a spell in 6-20 year old ex-liqueur Muscat casks. The final twist was a 'finishing' using Alligator char level red wine barriques, roasted over open fire (yes, Morris still run their own cooperage). These barrels could only be used once as the extreme charring essentially destroys them. Hence, even though the total maturation equates to just three years, you can understand why this release was an expensive exercise.

It's clearly a single malt, however the barrel regime also leaves an impression of Port matured Bourbon (think Angel's Envy), although the effect here is much more profound. The only other profile we’ve tasted that comes close is perhaps Colkegan in the USA where they smoke their barley with mesquite (small desert shrubs, one of the country's more expensive lumbers, most commonly used for high-end furniture production). Morris delivers similarly fascinating, shape-shifting aromatics, conjuring fruit mince pies, port soaked tobacco, white chocolate and even suggestions of mezcal. The smokiness is nothing like peat - more like smouldering wood, which makes perfect sense given the radical finishing. At first taste you might consider it a dessert malt, but the Muscat is managed so that the early sweetness makes it accessible without being confected. Fruit cake and stewed plum flavours build in a malty middle before the barrel char kicks in with a warm blanket of wood smoke and spice. The finish is dappled with cranberry infused dark chocolate, fading with a light astringency. Smoke and muscat rebound late. Purists will appreciate that the liquid underwent a VERY light chill filtration, essentially to take any volatile edges off and provide a mouth feel consistent with the previous Morris releases.

If you collect rare and unusual Australian whisky, this is a once-off (there may be something else in the same smoked release format but they're not revealing what that looks like yet). Our offer represents a limited allocation from the approximately 3000 bottles produced. 48.3% Alc./Vol.

Notes from the producers... Morris’s Head Distiller, Darren Peck, comments, “Here at Morris, we really appreciate heavily smoked whiskies but also know this isn’t for everyone so experimented with these distinctive flavour profiles to create something special that our Morris fans will love.” COLOUR: Honey hues with polished jarrah heart. NOSE: A combination of clean white smoke mingling with raisin fruits and blackberry jam initially. The smoke dissipates to release the rich and complex Morris Muscat characters. PALATE: Hints of charred pineapple with a light dusting of smoked paprika. Dark sugars appear without any cloying character, followed by the elegant acidity of crisp apple which evolves leaving a dry finish on the palate. FINISH: The flavours shift gear on the palate leaving you feeling like you’ve just experienced chili infused dark chocolate, dipped in subtle smoked apple jam.

Considering the company's access to high quality barrels, it makes sense that Morris have moved into making whisky. The family hasn't cut any corners since the inception of the project in 2016. Their dream team originally consisted of Master Distiller, John McDougall, a widely-respected whisky maker with experience at Balvenie, Laphroaig and Springbank. The late Dr Jim Swan, famous for his work with STR casks at Kavalan, Kilchoman et al, was also a key consultant and worked with McDougall on honing the barrel and toasting regimes. Currently, Darren Peck (ex-Diageo) is Head Distiller having worked under the tutelage of McDougall. At the heart of the process is a restored hybrid copper pot and column still - none other than the original installed at Morris's in the early 1930s used for producing base spirits for fortified wines. High quality barley is sourced locally. Add a private cooperage and a warm/cool day/night maturation environment combined with reasonable sell prices and Morris are setting the standard high.