I have to admit that even though I have spent a fair bit of the last decade in Melbourne, it was only recently that I began shifting my focus onto the whiskies that were being produced by various distilleries across the country (and in Tasmania in particular).
I consider this to be one of my failings as I have resolutely ploughed through bottles of Scotch without even bothering to savour the fruits of this land that I hold so dear to me. So, how was I to rectify this issue? For that, I have to say a massive thank you to my buddies at Whisky Waffle, which is a phenomenal whisky blog that everyone must check out.
After reading about their various experiences with Australian whiskies, I was rather intrigued. But I didn’t want to go down the well trodden path and savour the likes of Sullivan’s Cove, Lark, Nant or even Heartwood. No, I had my eyes firmly fixed on one distillery in particular: Bakery Hill.
I knew for a fact that Whisky & Alement has bottles of the various expressions, but decided to see if there were other bars out there which served it. So I ended up at a nondescript bar somewhere near Collins St whose name escapes me and they had a bottle of the Bakery Hill Peated Malt on their shelf.
I knew that there was no point in delaying the inevitable and ordered a glass of it, which cost me a surprisingly pricey $18. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained aye?
As I had no previous interactions with this distillery and was going into this with just the basic information, I decided to just savour the experience and dove right in.
Bakery Hill Peated Malt (46% abv)
Nose: Quite a peat monster, this! Nice sweet peat which is somewhat reminiscent of both Caol Ila and Ardbeg. Some soapy notes in the nose, followed by cracked black pepper, sea salt, some barley sugar and just a hint of malt. After a while, lime and some orange juice emerges. A melange of spices then take control, with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves making an appearance. Are you sure this is not an Islay whisky?
Palate: Ahhh, therein lies the difference! The peat from the nose is rather deceptive as it doesn’t saturate the palate the same way as an Islay malt would. Nice soft, coastal peat with some sweetness from the barley sugar. The citrus then makes an appearance, with the lime particularly dominant. Black pepper and cinnamon to the fore later on, with a tiny hint of good quality sea salt.
Finish: Medium in length, with some cigar ash, tobacco pouch and more lime notes mixing in with some of the nutmeg. Not very complex, but very enjoyable and quite highly drinkable too!
I must confess that I was quite impressed with this whisky and it blew away any prejudices I held with regard to whether a peated malt from Australia could hold its own against a bonafide Islay malt. While it might not challenge the peat beasts from Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin, it seems like it could give the likes of Bunnahabhain and even Caol Ila a run for their money.
That being said, the pricetag is a little on the high side (although that didn’t stop me from purchasing 2 further glasses of the Peated Malt after), which might lead me to think that this would be worth purchasing in order to be savoured on a periodic basis rather than as a regular tipple.
I am definitely keen to check out the other offerings from Bakery Hill (who are based in Victoria) and would want to visit the distillery if time permits the next time I return to Melbourne. I am also keen on visiting the New World Projects distillery in Essendon Downs, so this is definitely something on my hitlist.
With the likes of New World Projects (Starward) and Bakery Hill flying the flag for Victoria and Limeburners for Western Australia, it can safely be said that Tasmanian whiskies will have some serious challengers in the years ahead!