Blogpost: Dark Mofo Winter Feast

Posted by T • June 21, 2019

Posted by T • June 21, 2019

Water of Life – Dark Mofo Winter Feast edition: Hobart Whisky and Belgrove Distillery

Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast is a definite highlight of the annual festival that not only offers access to the best of Tasmanian produce and cuisine, but also the best of what the local distilling, brewing and Wine scene has to offer.

Needless to say that we used the occasion to check in with some of the distillers we have had the privilege to cover in previous instalments of Water of Life.

John manned the Hobart Whisky stall, which not only had their core range on offer, but also a few new expressions that knocked our socks off:

As the name of the French Oak Pinot Noir Finish suggest, what we have here was matured in small American Oak ex-bourbon casks and finished in French oak Pinot Noir barrels.

One should not be lead astray but the seemingly high alcohol content  of 57.7%  ABV, as what tickles the nostrils is a melange of dark chocolate, heavily charred American Oak, stewed fruits and culminates in a fruity vanilla-ey highlight that seamlessly transition to what materializes on the palate: Creamy vanilla, butterscotch and a burst of tropical fruits greet the palate, with Papaya, Kiwi Fruit, Melons and candied orange peel all making an appearance.

The finish follows down a citrussy road that is paved with more nuances of chocolate and an elongated spicy exit that is reminiscent of a good brandy.

The American Oak Ex-Bourbon expression is softer and more subdued in comparison, with its nose being based heavily on vanilla, apple juice and saline notes. The palate is greeted by a delicious wave of chocolate, apple pie, oak nuances and jam notes, while the finish is dominated by a delectable creaminess that is punctured by a citrussy oakyness that is backed by dark fruits.

Opens sweet and creamy then builds across the palate to warm toffee pudding with the alcohol coming in late and clean. A gentle peppery chorus is there in the background to complete the picture. Complexity and subtle elegance are the keynotes.

The fulminant completion of the triumvirate however is Hobart Whisky’s Winter Feast Exclusive Release: Following a three-year maturation period in small 40L American oak ex-bourbon casks, this beauty found its way into casks that previously served as home to Guatemala rum, and more recently cask-matured maple syrup.

I pity everyone who has been at the Winter Feast and did not make a concerted effort to sample this drop as it is an experience to indulge in that engages all senses. What an stunning dram and testament to Hobart Whisky’s dedication and expertise.

It opens sweet and creamy, with the alcohol blending in and backed by peppery notes.

Layer after layer of both robust and subtle flavours, all showing themselves but without tripping over one another with a smooooth finish.

Unfortunately, as with all of Hobart Whisky’s releases, this delectable drop is another limited bottling and given the demand that I encountered during the Winter Feast, where attendants bought their whiskies in bulk, you might want to make an effort to not miss out on their current and upcoming expressions.

Some people say to never meet your heroes as you will end up being disappointed, however, sometimes the opposite is the case and you end up with an even bigger admiration after the encounter.

Point in case: Peter Bignell from Belgrove Distillery.

For the uninitiated: Belgrove Distillery and the man that created it are the epitome of craft distilling, i.e. handmade, sourcing every ingredient themselves including the grain they grow and harvest themselves and digging the peat from their own family farms, with each of the manufacturing steps being monitored and quality controlled by their palate, nostrils and eyes. Needless to say that the barrels are coopered and fired at the distillery.

Peter also manned a booth at the Winter Feast and apart from his idiosyncratic and accolade laden emissions, gave us a taste of his Hopped Malt Whisky.

Now, I for one love a great IPA, specifically if it makes one component of a boilermaker paired with a peaty whisky. Belgrove’s Hopped Malt expression combines the best of both worlds as it is in essence a distilled IPA.

Based on a dry and malty sweet IPA from TBONE Brewing Co, the distillate aged at Belgrove Distillery and bottled at 61.7%. The beauty is that despite the relatively high alcohol content, the burn is minimal.

The hoppy dram hints at the juiciness of the IPA it is derived and marries floral nuances with a well-calibrated bitterness that culminates in a wonderfully elongated crescendo of maltiness.

Given that this is yet another super limited Belgrove bottling and the fact that I have yet to encounter a whisk(e)y fiend that is not enamoured with how Peter Bignell channels his alchemy, you should seize your chance to sample it if you ever get the chance as you will be rewarded with an avalanche of great flavours.

Given the quality and renowned status Belgrove Distillery and its whiskies have attained, i.e. restaurants like Copenhagen’s Noma exclusively selecting whiskies from Peter directly or Queens of the Stone Age buying off whatever they can get their hands on while they hold court in Tasmania, it will only be a matter of time until operations will need to be scaled to appease the overwhelming world-wide demand – you do want to get in while every ingredient that went into the production went through Peter’s own hands.

---

Images from company websites

T • June 21, 2019

More recent blogposts

Beethoven and Wagner vs Nietzsche

Posted by T • July 26, 2021

Beethoven: A life University of California Press   There is no shortage of books dedicated to the life of a composer whose legacy has never ceased to reverberate and impact music at large. Released to commemorate the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of his birth, what sets this biography apart in terms of authority is partly due to the unprecedented access … Read more

Water of Life – Limeburners and Earp Distillery

Posted by T • July 25, 2021

Water of Life – Limeburners and Earp Distillery   Over the last ten years, Australia has firmly established itself on the map of nations that produce quality malt whiskies. Slowly but steadily, rye whiskies created on terra australis have been making a splash on the scene with quite a few distilleries crafting their own incarnations of American style rye whiskey. … Read more

The Formative Years – Rugby and Canterbury

Posted by T • July 24, 2021

The Formative Years – Rugby and Canterbury I’ve covered the mecca that Washington DC proved to be as a hotbed for hardcore and punk as part of this series before, however, missed to shed light onto one of my favourite releases from the 1980s era, i.e. the vitally important split LP of the short-lived bands The Faith and Void.  While … Read more

The Formative Years – Hardcore Classics, pt. 1

Posted by T • July 23, 2021

The Formative Years – Hardcore classics pt. 1   With ZAP magazine playing a pivotal role in promoting and covering everything New York Hardcore related in a pro-active and prominent manner, Europe and specifically Germany have always been prime markets for hardcore emanating from the Big Apple.  The result was that “NYHC” became a veritable label and trademark and almost … Read more

The Formative Years - Ebullition Records

Posted by T • July 22, 2021

The Formative Years - Ebullition Records  The first time I heard about Ebullition Records was when there was talk around the campfire of that a gentleman that was known to me as a Maximum Rock’n’roll / No Answer zine contributor, i.e. Kent McClard, was planning to release a full length of one of my favourite bands from Orange County, California, … Read more

Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Holgate and Six String

Posted by T • July 18, 2021

Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Holgate Brewhouse and Six String Brewing   As we have outlined with our previous coverage of Holgate Brewhouse, over the last twenty years the Victorian brewery has established itself firmly on the forefront of innovative quality producers of ales that honour both the classic styles from the old world and the ever expanding and … Read more

Water of Life – Hellfire / Larrikin Distilleries

Posted by T • July 15, 2021

Water of Life – Hellfire Distillery / Larrikin Distillery   If you have followed this series with a modicum of interest and harbour a weak spot for fantastic, artisanal spirits, Tasmania would be doubtlessly be have made it on your to-visit list quite a while ago. Visiting the southernmost state of Australia twice a year, I never cease to discover … Read more

Water of Life – The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Posted by T • July 12, 2021

Water of Life – The Scotch Malt Whisky Society   There is certainly no shortage of whisky clubs and subscription services these days and for anyone remotely into discovering new flavour nuances and variations of their favourite bottlings, joining one can prove to be a viable option. The experience those services offer ranges from basic monthly tasting kits that might … Read more

Water of Life – Milton Rum & Mad Monkey Distillery

Posted by T • July 11, 2021

Water of Life – Milton Rum and Mad Monkey Distillery   Rum has a long and at times chequered history reaching back more than six hundred years to the times dominated by Colonialism, where it did not only serve to make pirates drunk but as a means for trade. Fast forward to the present day and the renaissance that the … Read more

The Formative Years - Kill Rock Stars

Posted by T • July 10, 2021

The Formative Years - Kill Rock Stars  It would have been around 1992 that I first came about a new label that seemed to have its focus firmly set on releasing its friends’ records and the underground scene centred around Olympia, Washington. It did not take long for the label, its credo and overall outlook and aesthetic to manifest via … Read more