This week’s review takes us back to Australia after a bloody long time. Those who have been following this blog would know that I previously reviewed the Bakery Hill Peated Malt whisky from the Bakery Hill distillery in the outskirts of Victoria.
I therefore thought that it was time to revisit the produce of this wonderful country, but decided to sidestep the more common offerings such as Sullivan’s Cove, Overeem and so on. It was also rather fortunate timing that I had just come into possession of a sample of “The Lost Convict” from Heartwood distillery.
Unlike most distilleries, Heartwood is an independent bottler by nature. While they produce expressions, most of them have been sourced from various distilleries around Australia and in some cases even vatted together in order to create a particular expression.
According to their website, Heartwood has approximately 7000 litres of maturing whisky within its warehouses and they are all mostly stored in 200-300 litre barrels and represent some of the oldest whiskies produced in Australia.
The age range of maturing stock ranges from just a few months old to up to 17 years of age and Heartwood maintains that they have no commercial aspects influencing the bottling of their whiskies, rather preferring to bottle them “when they feel that it is time to do so”.
The distillery has gained a reputation for putting forth stellar bottlings and they tend to be bestowed with rather interesting names as well. Some crackers would be “Devil In The Details”, “Any Port In A Storm” and “Velvet Hammer”.
Heartwood matures its whiskies in a variety of barrels which include the more common types such as ex-bourbon, ex-port and ex-sherry as well as barrels which once contained the sweet Australian Muscat wine. Their expressions are therefore as diverse as the barrels in which the whiskies are matured.
The focus of today’s review is “The Lost Convict” expression from Heartwood, which is the product of a vatting of spirits from two Australian distilleries: New Hobart Distillery (Sullivan’s Cove whisky) and Lark (Lark whisky).
For this particular expression, 95% is taken from a hogshead which contains Sullivan’s Cove whisky which was distilled in November 2000 and 5% is taken from a hogshead which contains Lark whisky which was distilled in March 2008.
Both were vatted and left to marry for some time before being bottled for sale in November 2014 at an eye-watering 66% abv and this yielded a total of 166 bottles, all of which sold out in an indecently fast time.
I came across this sample from a mate of mine, who had acquired the bottle from the distillery and had cracked it open to sample the wares. We had previously arranged a trade and I received a sample of this beauty while trading a sample of Compass Box Hedonism blended grain whisky which was part of the 2008 limited release.
So, let’s get on with the review, shall we?
Heartwood “The Lost Convict” (66% abv)
Nose: Intensely sweet with the typical port characteristics (spicy, sweet and somewhat savoury) on initial entry. There is an oaky element to this dram and it packs a punch on the nose considering the cask strength nature.
Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla on the relatively full nose and the port casks do impart a winey note which adds a fair bit of character to this dram. (22/25)
Palate: Sweet and intensely spicy on initial entry, with the cinnamon and nutmeg definirely in play. The port is particular dominant and there is an element of black papper on the palate as well, which adds to the spiciness of this dram.
The cask strength nature of this dram is also very evident and sears the palate initially, although it does subside after a few seconds and retreats to the background. Allspice and lush red fruits also make an appearance on the palate after. (23/25)
Finish: Exceptionally long and sophisticated finish, with the port, black papper and wood spices combining beautifully to create a rich and satisfying sensory experience. (21/25)
Balance: Relatively well-balanced for what is in effect a cask strength blended malt and there is an exceptional depth of flavour to this dram. Lovely stuff and it is no surprise that it sold out as fast as it did. (22/25)
This is probably one of the best Australian whiskies that I have tried in a long while and it is truly representative of the amazing produce that is currently making its way out of Australia and to countries around the world.
While Heartwood tends to focus more on the domestic market, it can be said that it is becoming rather well known beyond Australia and hopefully it is only a matter of time before it gets the wider recognition that it surely deserves.
As it stands, all produce from the distillery is sold out until the next release, which will be in June and will definitely be sold out within record time. So my suggestion would be to secure your bottlings as fast as possible and while you can, because it surely won’t stick around for long.
Until the next post, have a great week ahead.
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