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Hellyers Road is Australia's largest single malt distillery. Their Original expression comes without an age statement at 46.2% and is made entirely of Tasmanian malt. The wine bottle which contains this whisky comes complete with a screw top, and the back label describes "tenacity and vision," notably lacking any mention of the whisky's character.
Nose: Despite clear indications on the label, grain alcohol features prominently on the nose. Too much oak, grassy, a hint of smoke, something reminiscent of sea salt, a touch of black licorice. The nose is unrefined and lacks any significant depth.
Palate: The plum note and mint undertone is a nice but cheap cocoa packed with heat and uncomfortable spice are sure to trigger an involuntary grimace.
As one of the UK's oldest and most prestigious wine and spirit merchants, Berry Bros. & Rudd enjoy a century old whisky tradition anchored by the Glenrothes distillery. They also produce a highly regarded independent bottling line that can be hard to get your hands on outside the UK. You can deduce just why it's scarce by perusing the label details on their limited releases. In this case we whisky lovers find the words that make us spend our money, specifically, "cask strength", "unchillfiltered", "uncoloured" and even the two cask numbers (309796 & 309881) that this bottle was drawn from. So, before we even peel the cork seal off, we are bewitched by the prospect of uncompromised whisky.
For the purpose of immortalizing this unique bottle, I am pouring a sizeable belt of this 58.5% ABV, pale straw coloured liquid into my wide-bowl glencairn glass.
In the LCBO's $40-$50 price bracket, you take a bit of a chance trying a new bottle. Generally light on complexity, the choices range from biggest bang for your buck (Glenfiddich 12YO) to bland and immature expressions best suited to cooking (Glen Parker Single Malt). With this in mind, we took a stab at this Ardmore with some trepidation.
Nose: Light seaside peat of the sort barely kissed by Islay iodine. Creamy cherries and cloves with smoke and fennel. Dried fruits come out with a drop of water, which is highly recommended.
Nose: Straight away, sugary aromas of rock candy, bubblegum, and sherried fruits vault from the glass. Behind the heady sweetness is a tinge of malt accompanied by beeswax, almonds and vanilla.