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Sullivans Cove Double Cask American & French Oak

A real christmas warmer!

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@jdcookReview by @jdcook

13th Nov 2010


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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I recently attended A Tasmanian Whisky Appreciation Society (TWAS) tasting night, where the theme of the night was the state of Tasmanian whisky. We tasted the Sullivan's Cove Double Cask, the Nant first release single malt, the Trappers Hut 9 year old, a Lark Distillery special TWAS bottling, a small batch Hellyers Road, an Old Hobart Distillery Sherry Barrel, as well as young spirit from the new Mackey's Disitllery and from a barrel from independent bottler Tim McDuckett (I'm really not sure of the spelling of this person's name - so if I got it wrong, I do apologise!).

The first of the night was the Sullivans Cove Double Cask. Sullivans Cove is also known as 'The Tasmanian Distillery, and by pure luck I happened to end up being seated next to Patrick Maguire, the Chief Distiller! He mentioned that this was the first 9 year old bottling they had done, and that it was matured in two different barrels, a 200 litre american oak bourbon barrel and a 300 litre french oak port barrel, and the spirit was completely unpeated.

He said it was bottled at 40% to reduce his excise as much as possible to maximise his profits, and that if we wanted stuff at a higher percentage we could drop by the distillery and he had plenty of single cask bottlings that would 'knock our socks off.'

The nose was malty, sweet, full of red fruits, raisins, and really heavy, thick and rich. You can really notice the influence of the port, but it's not overwhelming, like the bourbon barrels are keeping it in check. This really surprised me, and was very complex. It was one of those noses where every sniff brought out something different, and I never felt like I completely got to the bottom of it (and I got the feeling that it might take several, very enjoyable, glasses to get there). So I spent quite a while sniffing!

The taste was warm and rich, full of cinnamon, hints of nutmeg, red fruits, port notes, and a taste like the fruit mince in good christmas fruit mince pies. Really full on and heart-warming. For something that is unpeated and bottled at 40%, this really punches way above what I was expecting and was very nice!

The finish was long and warm, and full of the sweet christmas pie fruit mince, cinnamon, malt and just a touch of alcohol spirit. Keeps going for a number of minutes. Given how quickly we were being pushed through malts, I felt a little rushed with this one, and would have liked a bit longer to get into it.

I thought this was a truly great little christmas warmer of a malt, and Sullivans Cove is now on my buy in my next whisky splurge list!

Sitting next to Patrick was also quite an experience. He mentioned that he has been visiting throughout South-East Asia trying to flog his product to various people and distributors. Unfortunately everywhere he goes he is told that they love his bottles, love his whisky but that he needs to come back when he has a 12 year old. Advice I find astonishingly shallow to be honest! If this were a base bottling it would be as good as anything form any of the major distillers out there. Just because something has an age statement on it doesn't make it good! Just ask the Aberlour A'bunadh or the Ardbeg Uigeadail!

That said, he seemed pretty intent on coming out with a 12 year old, so I guess I have something to look forward to in 3 years time!

For those who are interested, the website for Sullivans Cove is: www.tasmaniadistillery.com

Related Sullivan's Cove reviews


fastpoose commented

Dan Murphys are stocking Sullivans Cove this week. Yee Haa! Double cask was $100 and not on the shelf yet. As of 12.30 today. It'll definitly be on my buy list. I'm not sure if they're getting the cask strength stuff though (fingers crossed!). By the way, I do enjoy your reviews.

8 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@fastpoose - it's definitely worth buying. The taste of the fouble malt I had was strong enough that it actually would have held it's own against a lot of other cask strength offerings. Plus I think Patrick doesn;t do too many cask strength offerings, as the tax excise goes up, and each bottle would have to be increased in price by around $5-$6 for every 1% of increase in ABV. That's a hefty price tag, and hard for consumers to take.

...and I'm glad you find my reviews enjoyable (and hopefully useful... ;)!

8 years ago 0

jdcook commented

Just bought a bottle myself, and have fallen in love all over again! I am so impressed by this, and am really looking forward to future Sullivans Cove whiskies! Recommended to anyone!

8 years ago 0

Pudge72 commented

Awesome review @jdcook...do you know if this one is making it across the Pacific to North America at some point? #75 on my wishlist, though will likely only get purchased if my wife and I ever make it to vacation in Australia (definitely on the bucket list).

8 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@Pudge72 - according to the Tasmania Distillery website, they have a distribution deal with a Canadian group: Purple Valley Imports who have a website: purplevalley.tv which if you look around and mouse over the whisky button and select the Tasmania Distillery page followed by clicking on the Double Cask links leads to the following for North America - liquorconnect.com/Products/Pages/…

No guarantees though, no idea if that is just a Canadian site or a whole of North America deal.

For those who are interested they apparently have distribution deals to companies in New Zealand, Singapore, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden - full details can be found here: www.tasmaniadistillery.com/distributors

8 years ago 0

wylcx commented

Have you tried the Sullivans Cove Port Maturation Malt Whisky Single Cask? Even though it is bottled at 60% av I have no trouble drinking it neat. Very smooth and tastes of chocolate with coconut.

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

Sounds lovely! I look forward to someday getting a taste.

8 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@wylcx - No I haven't, but I keep hinting to my wife that she should look at putting together a distillery visit as a present to me, so maybe at Christmas! Thus far she has chosen to go the easy route and just buy me bottles of whisky... ;)

@Victor - keep an eye out - Sullivans Cove is here to stay, and I know the management of the distillery is pretty keen to expand distribution internationally.

8 years ago 0

vanPelt commented

Thanks jdcook (I have moved a discussion here, from the unrelated Arran 10 feed). Interesting that you prefer the Double Cask, because I've heard that it was "presumed" to be better (e.g. by the chief distiller?)-- whereas the French Oak actually receives more appreciation in general. I assume you've tried both? It would be great to see a comparison. In any case, you've piqued my interest to at least try a sample. Apparently the Double Cask is also cheaper than the French Oak, which I guess works out well....

6 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@vanPelt - I've had both and prefer the double cask, but that's a personal preference, and no distiller alive would admit one product of theirs was better than another (especially if it better product was the cheaper one). But I have no issues with the French Oak, I just personally prefer the Double Cask. After trying both, my wife was happy for me to buy one or the other (and had no quibble about the pricing of which one) and she was mildly surprised I bought the Double Cask. If presented with the same choice again, I would make the same decision.

Mind you, the best answer would be to get both... ;)

6 years ago 0

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