Water of Life – Thomson Distillery
Now, this has been for the longest time in the making: An instalment dedicated exclusively to a craft distillery from New Zealand.
With Australia whiskies being revered the world over and being touted for at times exorbitant prices, I have yet to come across a dram from NZ that disappoints me.
Thomson Whisky is no exception.
Having started out as a small operation / independent bottler with whisky sourced from Willowbank Distillery with a passion for the water of life, Thomson Whisky has grown into a veritable heavyweight and placed itself firmly on the world map with their premium, artisan and progressive whiskies.
Channelling their distilling alchemy via a hand-beaten copper pot still, they limit their ingredients to quality malted barley, pure water, yeast. Following tow distillation runs, the results of which are then aged in a range of casks including ex-bourbon barrels, NZ red wine casks and smaller variants.
Needless to say, I was got immensely excited when I learned about Thomson releasing their own idiosyncratic Manuka Smoke and South Island variants.
Clocking in at 46% ABV, he Manuke Smoke expression is considered a work in progress, however, it got me from the moment the aromas tickled my nostrils with the melange of subtle campfire smokiness, vanilla, heathery Manuka honey oils, herbal freshness, bay leaf and cinnamon.
On the palate, the smokiness serves as the backbone on which fruity highlights and menthol notes counterpoint each other, before an elongated finish culminates in wood oak, liquorice , hints of aniseed and enough ash to make one lust for another dram. Definitely a unique and lovable whisky and a recommendation for Islay smoke heads.
Peaty expressions are usually my first choice if distilleries proffer them, however, New Zealand was yet to be experienced territory in that regard.
Thomson’s limited batch bottling is refined with local South Island Peat and being fairly young, I love the iodine nuances which are pervaded by vanilla and faint smoke notes. Not unlike the Manuku Wood expression, there are herbaceous and sour fruity highlights along with the effects of having matured in smaller sized ex-bourbon casks, which adds complexity with the elongated exit finishing on a high spicy note.
Given the quality of their early releases, one is very much looking forward to what the future holds for Thomson Distillery.