Well this month we certainly have something a little bit special, a little bit unusual and definitely a whisky with a great story. For November we are going back to good old Tassie – this time sampling the offerings of ‘The Small Concern Whisky Distillery‘ which was located in Ulverstone, Tasmania. I say ‘was’ because the SCWD stills are no more – sadly having been sold for scrap some 10 years ago. And so this month, we sample a ‘ghost whisky’ (one from a distillery no longer operating) – Cradle Mountain 16 year old.
The early days of the SCWD were heady, exciting. One of the first two whisky distilleries in modern Australia in 1992 – it was second only to Lark in establishing itself. Recognised as very good very early on – with Springbank Distillery making large purchases of spirit from them to use in their blends in 1994. Unfortunately though, a lack of investor interest ultimately saw the end of the distillery as a working concern. Now the distillery is – sadly – largely forgotten. Lost in time and the Tasmanian mountains – where barrels and barrels are still aging.
I almost met with the owner – David MacLennan – last September when I was visiting Tassie. Unfortunately events conspired against a face to face meeting, but we have had many telephone conversations since, and it was during one of these chats that I convinced him to dust off the bottling machine and bottle a few more for our membership. He agreed – but with the proviso of giving him some time to organise bottles (from Italy, no less), and roping in some help to bottle and label. Finally the time is upon us – and I’m very excited to offer David’s product this month.
We’re not only excited to present the Cradle Mountain 16 yearold to the club because it’s a rather nice whisky – we’re also excited to have been able to resurrect what is essentially a ‘ghost malt’ with a special bottling, just for our club. So we hope you enjoy it, and ponder what may have been whilst you let the finish linger. Once it’s gone… it’s gone .
Cradle Mountain 7yo nearrly 16yo
The Cradle Mountain 16yo Single Malt Whisky is totally Tasmanian – from the Franklin barley grown in the northern parts of Tassie (very popular with beer brewers), to the pure snow-stream water coming from the Cradle Mountain National Park. It comes from Barrels 7274 (kegged 1st October 1997) and 7285 (kegged 12th October ’97). Bottled in August this year – the whisky is now only 2 months shy of 16yo. It is triple distilled to ensure the raw spirit is a pure as possible before going to age in the American Oak. Cradle Mountain whisky is not chill filtered so the full flavour of the whisky is retained.
Please note: Even thought the packaging says it’s 7yo – this is actually not right. This whisky was bottled just 2 months short of it’s 16th birthday. So small is ‘Small Concern Whisky Distillery’ that it wasn’t feasible to make new packaging/labelling.
The late Michael Jackson said of it (at 7yo):
“It is a pale straw colour with fresh leather, waxed fruit, perhaps lemon-grass, and hay in the aroma. Very soft body with a smooth palate which is clean-tasting (no doubt deriving in part from the local water). Fruit-skins, citrus and lemon-grass in the palate. Fruity acidity in the finish, then a surge of mustard and pepper.”