Hellyers Road 10 year old is our malt of the month this month.
Hellyers Road is a distillery in Burnie in the North West of Tasmania. Burnie is a pretty little sea side town with its industry based around forestry, paper and dairy. More recently, well since 1997 anyway, it also also been distilling single malt whisky. The general manager and head distiller knew very little of making single malt whisky in 1997, but was a dairy man at Betta Milk who took over Hellyers Road and applied the same quality and sanitary standards used to make milk to making single malt whisky. He learned very quick and from the best, and was soon turning out a very fine high quality clean new make spirit that needed ageing in oak and blending to make high commercial quantities of single malt whisky.
The Hellyers Road distillery itself was designed from the outset to be a serious commercial concern, not just a tourist attraction (although it is that as well – with several tourism awards under it’s belt). It has the capacity to make nearly 400,000 bottles of single malt per annum, which would be more than sufficient to supply local demand, and also have plenty left over to be available to the rest of the world.
This latest Hellyers Road 10 year old release has been produced in sufficient quantities for it be exported commercially to France and Canada.
The malt is made from Tasmanian grown barley. They use pure Tasmanian rain water rather than spring water, or distilled water making this whisky quite unique. There is also a fastidious pursuit of cleanliness. This whisky is extremely tightly structured, and pure. It is right at the citrus end of the flavour spectrum, rather than the broad soapy end. There is a creaminess and smoothness in the pallet despite its 46+% alcohol level meaning there is no need for chill filtering to avoid cloudiness, for those who take it on the rocks. Ageing in the american oak barrels imparts some fine vanilla characters, the flavour of the barley comes through and the finish is long and clean. The colour is lightly golden as you would expect from American oak barrels, and there is no caramel added to enhance the light hue.
This is a very well made whisky. The additional age has rounded off the edges of the Original release. It is very enjoyable, and very fine. It will be well received by whisky critics and well liked by those who prefer the highland styles of Glenmorangie, and Glen Grant. Both of these are very well received in France, which is perhaps why Hellyers Road cracked that export market so early.
Hellyers Road 10yo is a whisky for all Australians to be proud of, and enjoy. This young company has come of age, and I look forward to seeing what else they have in the wings.