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Heartwood 'Release the Beast'

By the Horns.

0 889

@ChooksterReview by @Chookster

10th Apr 2013

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    89

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  • Brand: Heartwood
  • ABV: 65.4%

This review is of bottle 126/259 of the Heartwood ‘Release the Beast’ batch 1.

Heartwood is an independent bottler of Tasmanian whisky, with over 10,000 litres of the good stuff attempting to hit its straps in the unforgiving Australian climate, some of which is possibly the oldest Australian single malt whisky going around.

Heartwood is a project of possibly the number 2 guy in Australian whisky (behind his good mate, Bill Lark), Tim Duckett, who is extremely passionate about his product.

From the website: “We are there to determine the amount of peat used for production. We are there when the spirit is produced. We are there to select the barrel. We are definitely there to sample the whisky as it matures. We do not have commercial drivers. The quality of the whisky produced is the most important aspect of our endeavours. The whisky will be bottled when it is ready. If it is really, really, good, we might just keep it for ourselves (to be shared with friends).”

The distillate, produced at Lark distillery and influenced by Tasmanian peat, has been measured to a Sphagnum peat influence of 50%. Initially matured for 3 years in 2 separate 100 litre port casks, before being married for 4 years in a 200 litre Australian Sherry cask and bottled at a cool 65.4% ABV, there’s something mildly scary about sitting down to a glass of this.

It’s darker than any whisky I’ve ever tried, holding the bottle up to the light very little shines through the spirit, giving off a dim brown-maroon hue. This is for drinking right? Should I be wearing a hazmat suit?

To smell; to start - my high school woodwork class; wood shavings, sawdust, varnish, a sweet note intermingling. Then... Hold on a second... Holy crap, here come the port notes! Thick and juicy red fruit notes uppercut my nostrils! Motherflipper it’s big! The port sweetness just blew my nose off!!! The carpentry aromas take a back seat while the violence ensues.

After pulling myself back together, the nose eventually settles down, becoming more delicate and approachable. With the aid of a teaspoon of water I get – Red Vines, fruitcake, honeycomb, a touch of struck matches appears for a second (contributing to rather than hindering the experience), and Goanna Oil (medicinal oil for rubbing on sore muscles).

To taste; surprisingly soft, all recent events considered. Don’t get me wrong, this will still make the eyes water on first sip, but it’s very enjoyable and sweet. Sherry takes the lead then Port dries and rounds out. My nose knows better than my tongue so the best I can do is Cherry Ripe (on steroids of course).

Addition of water – becomes creamy, absolutely amazing mouth feel to this. The finish is a battle between the immense sweetness, and the obviously active cask, becoming slightly bitter, but excusably so.

It may be that the alcohol content has hit me for 6 (Australian whisky, had to throw in a colloquialism), but the bitterness reminds me of vegemite until the sweetness kicks in.

Truly unique, and mightily impressive, it’s not perfect, but it’s something to be bloody proud of Tim.

8 comments

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh commented

Awesome review! I've got the Convict Unchained and am picking up Convict Released and all the other Heartwoods that will be coming out. Some awesome stuff going on over there and the price point isn't half bad considering the whisky quality. I'd forgot about Release the Beast, but I'm going to need to grab a bottle of this!

8 years ago 0

@Chookster
Chookster commented

If you've already got the Convict Unchained, instead of also getting the Convict Released i'd go for the Velvet Hammer (just came out today, bourbon matured) or the Mt Wellington Release (not meant to be as good, but their first release, only a couple left!).

My next two purchases of any whisky will hopefully be the Convict Unchained followed by the Velvet Hammer. Let me know what you think when you open the Unchained, or put up a review!

8 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh commented

I will! I've already got a Velvet Hammer set aside for me :D Not sure when I'll crack them open but I can't wait!

8 years ago 0

@Chookster
Chookster commented

@RichardStewart - im honoured you think so. Your review of the beast on the heartwood website is a great interpretation itself.

8 years ago 0

@Chookster
Chookster commented

@RichardStewart - have you tasted the Convict and/or Velvet Hammer? And if so what is your opinion of them?

8 years ago 0

@RichardStewart
RichardStewart commented

Yep - I've tried them all... and although opinions will vary of course, I think the Velvet Hammer is his best so far... although the Convict Unchained is a close second (I'm also slightly biased, as I picked the name Velvet Hammer)

The Vat out of Hell is not far off being released, and I got a nice tasty preview of an 18 month old heavily peated release - we'll see that in 6 or 7 years I guess...

Cheers, Richard

8 years ago 0

@Chookster
Chookster commented

Thanks Richard,

I cant wait to get my hands on both!

8 years ago 0

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