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Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Cask

Average score from 3 reviews and 3 ratings 92

Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Cask

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Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Cask

I read about Sullivan Cove's award winning single cask whisky only quite recently after it won some of the top accolades at the World Whisky Awards this year.

I don't really care much for awards, mind you, but this one truly deserved all the praise it was getting. It was cask #525 which was responsible for taking the whisky world by storm.

I was lucky enough to sample that and was suitably impressed. OK extremely impressed. Here's a link to that review if you don't believe me connosr.com/reviews/sullivans-cove/…

Now I was quite curious to see how the other casks would play out. After a bit of hunting I managed to get my hands on Cask 537.

While quite competent it does not hold a candle to the award-winning Cask 525 which, in my opinion, is asking for a lot. And it is precisely the reason why whisky fascinates me so much. The same spirit matured in exactly the same way can yield such contrasting results.

Nose: Clove. Cinnamon. Chocolate. Red plums. Lots of berries. Black peppers. Mocha. Caramel Marchiato. Red grapes. Overwhelming red apple. Sandalwood. It's a nice unusual offering with the French Oak imparting a lot of spices.

Palate: Not a lot on offer here. Oak. Apples. Brown dates. Chocolate mocha. Cinnamon. And did I mention oak? Doesn't deliver the same level balance and intensity as 525.

Finish: Medium. Cinnamon. Oak.

While this sample may not have lived up to it's brothers' stellar reputation I respect the art of the single cask process. Spirit the way it's supposed to be.

@MaltActivist, I think that it is very useful and very perspective-giving to point out the variations in whisky of the same name, label, and production specifications. One of the great short-comings for the novice whisky-drinker is in not having enough experience in having sampled multiple bottles of the same whisky to know how very much variation exists even when the labels are identical or near-identical.

Different casks, different batches, different whisky...whisky making is not an assembly-line process. 87 pt whisky ain't so bad, either. Thanks for your review.

Thanks for stopping by @Victor - hope you're well.

While not stellar this particular batch is not all that bad. I just expected more that's all. I wish all distillers were proud to talk about variances in their batches. Would make for a more honest world.


Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on in Tasmania?

I can swear the whisky distillers Down Under have made a pact with the Devil. In exchange for their souls, and the souls of their loved ones, they are being given magical powers to create the most delicious whisky ever made.

I thought after tasting the Overeem Port Matured Cask Strength, another Australian Devil spawn, I would not taste a better whisky this year.

I am so elated to be wrong.

Winner of the World Whisky Awards 2014 this spirit is any where between 11 to 13 years old. Matured in French Oak Port casks my particular sample is one of 516 bottles to emerge from winning cask No. 525.

Founded in 1995 in, you guessed it, Sullivans Cove this distillery is now home to one of my favorite whiskies.

Nose: Dark chocolate. Black peppers with a touch of cinnamon. Scented tobacco. Warm hazelnut toffee covered in praline sauce. Dark fig jam and natural caramel. Very high quality leather. This is such a beautifully intense nose. It's like nosing a 60% whisky only to realize it's not even 48%.

Palate: Crisp maple syrup. Black pepper. Dark jam. Mild tobacco leaf. Roasted nuts and dry figs. Dark raisins covered in chocolate. The creamy, perfectly balanced delivery will make you salivate. While the whisky's in your mouth.

Finish: Gloriously long with a mocha caramel swirl.

Truly one of the great whiskies of the year and, for once, I whole heartedly agree with the truckload of accolades this wee dram has won.

I am so moving to Tasmania....

So happy to see this and to find you agree about the quality of this delicious treat. But I can't believe you got your hands on a Cask 525 sample! Wow. I didn't even bother trying. Oh well, my bottle of the cask strength version will just have to make up for it....


I initially got this as part of a DbtD package showcasing 5 Whisky Magazine 2013 winners. This was "Best Australian Single Malt". In the end, this was my "winner of the winners".

First vapor: Initial industrial rust and hot red pepper flake aroma passes. (And luckily has little to do with the rest of the experience.)

Nose: A buttery vanilla becomes a little nuttier-- rather like milk chocolate. Breathing time brings out a little banana bread and acetone, which makes that chocolate seem a tone darker.

Palate: A sweet entrance of... gummy bear candies-- really! A little punch of tutti frutti. Turns to cinnamon with banana and bitter orange; then to acetone, sweet black liquorice, and tickles of white pepper.

Finish: Definitely fruitcake on further swallowing; then becoming less sweet. Nutty exhale: macadamia or cashew.

From the first time I heard of a port matured whisky, I have hoped for a noticeable fruity influence in a malt (I am a port lover). However, I have usually found the flavors are not imparted or are far too subtle; so it's a pleasure to finally experience a malt that reveals the port aging. The 'Gummy Bear' on the palate is of course not as cheap/artificial as it sounds, but it is the closest association, and I think it's a delightfully playful addition to a dram that clearly has other elements to appreciate.

I also like that the palate is not predictable from the nose: milk chocolate turning into fruity accents makes for an energizing expression. This contrast imparts character rather than imbalance. My only wish is that the palate finished a tad sweeter to balance some of the bitterness of white pepper. But this is not a big detractor; the French Oak Cask is my "2013 winner", and I have made sure to secure my own bottle.

This whisky has now been crowned "World's Best Single Malt Whisky 2014"! So my 'secret' is out, and sadly my chances of replenishing have dwindled. Now I just hope that the precious bottles end up in the right hands and the right mouths to appreciate them.

So if you are now lucky enough to obtain a bottle, my message is to please be sure to allow significant breathing. You might find that a fresh bottle has diminished sensations, so it could appear weak in both the nose and palate. Don't despair and don't pass it off! Leaving the opened bottle untouched, even for just a month, can bring out wonderful elements. I took another dram from my bottle just about a month ago (after maybe 6 months) and appreciated it more than ever.

Ha! I know, just my luck to have an anachronistic-looking title now. @talexander , I hope that you'll be able to try it too, and I'll look forward to hearing your impressions. Your comment about other Sullivan's Cove whiskies prompts me to polish up one of my pending reviews, of their Double Cask. I will link to it here soon, hopefully this week.

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