The Great “Down Under” Tasting Tour – Part 3
Next up on our Down Under Tasting Tour series is a Single Malt whisky from the Nant Distillery in Bothwell, Tasmania. This particular whisky is a single cask release that was matured in “American Oak Sherry Wood” which means that they took an ex-bourbon barrel that had subsequently held Australian sherry and then used it to mature the whisky. Mike D supplied this bottle (and the other samples) during his last trip back to the US and I first tasted in this past January.
About the Nant Distillery
There is some interesting history to the Nant Distillery. Founded circa 1821, the Nant Estate is located just outside of Bothwell, in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, about an hours drive from Hobart. In 1823 a mill was built on the estate using convict labor – which I suspect was rather common during that era. Today the Nant Mill is the only water-powered mill still operating in Australia and is used by the distillery to grind their barley. Nant is also one a select few farm-based whisky distilleries in the world that grows their own barley on-site.
In 2004, Keith Blatt purchased the Nant Estate, launching a full-fledged restoration project in 2005. Whisky production began in 2008 and the first releases hit the market in June 2010. Since that time Nant has experienced a rapid rise in its worldwide recognition, with interest in their whiskies jumping dramatically after the American Oak Sherry Wood (43%) release was awarded a Gold medal at the prestigious China Wine & Spirits Awards in 2013.
Blatt, and Nant, have a unique business plan; in addition to the distillery and the visitor center, he has begun establishing a chain of Nant Whisky Cellar and Bars, with the first two in Hobart and Brisbane, but with plans to add 20 additional locations over the next few years.
Additionally, Nant has an investment program that allows individual investors to purchase barrels of Nant whisky with a “guaranteed buyback”option that pays the investor a 9.55% return over a four-to-five year period. Blatt is using this investment program to self-finance expansion of the distillery’s production capacity and to add its own malting facilities. Beyond the return on your financial investment, over the term of your cask ownership Nant sends regular samples of the whisky from your barrel along with other gifts such as a Waterford decanter and glasses….I know about this because Mike D, our intrepid Australian correspondent, has purchased a barrel himself and is enjoying the rewards!
Review: Nant Single Malt Whisky
So today I am reviewing a bottling of their 43% abv Single Malt matured in American Oak Sherry Wood from circa 2014 – there is no date stamp on the bottle to validate, and there is no information as to the age and no distillation or bottling date. The label does state that it is non chill-filtered and has no added caramel coloring. As with the Limeburners Single Malt I reviewed previously, I will re-taste this one to see if I note any significant changes since I first tasted it back in January.
Color: Light gold
Nose: The nose is a bit delicate, at first, but slowly expands in the glass. It is grassy, softly malty, with touches of black tea, some vanilla, and hints of aniseed/liquorice sweetness. With time it shows a fruitier side with ripe berries and candied apples and a little oak spice. With just a couple of drops of water the oaky notes pick up – pepper, pencil shavings – and drives the sweeter and fruitier aromas into the background.
Taste: Sweet, nicely oily on the palate (a good thing!), Vanilla cream, a slight hint of liquorice, surprisingly hot despite the 43% abv, which inhibits the development. Water really doesn’t help on the palate, either, pushing down the vibrancy that the palate showed, even with the heat, so that it becomes a rather one-dimensional vanilla-toffee flavor.
Finish: Somewhat short-ish, the vanilla sweetness comes and then disappears. sweet barley, soft spices, with some soft tannic dryness/bitterness at the end.
Overall: In re-tasting this Nant Single Malt whisky my initial notes and the secondary notes are very similar showing no real changes over the last six months.
As when I first tasted it, when this whisky shows some youthfulness with some “sharp edges” and slightly hot arrival, just be very careful adding water as it quickly drowns out both the nose and the palate. Neat, there are some really beautiful notes, and I found the nose to be superior to the palate, but it does have great texture. Just avoid the water and I think that you will find this to be a good whisky and one to try if you get the opportunity.
Distillery: The Nant Distillery
Type: Single Malt Whisky, Single Cask
Maturation: American Oak “Sherry Wood”
Price: Circa $165 AUS (500 ml bottle)
Availability: Currently available
Sample Source: Mike D.
Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media, Ltd.