My experience with Australian whisky is limited. Very limited. I’m really only familiar with Starward, and I’m struggling to think of any other Australian whiskies that I’ve tasted. It doesn’t help that availability in the Netherlands is very limited. Anyway, today marks the day that finally a second Australian distillery features on Words of Whisky, Hellyers Road.
The island of Tasmania is a hotbed of Australian whisky distilling, and it is fair to say that Hellyers Road Distillery is one of the pioneers. It started distilling in 1999 after the deregulation of Australia’s Dairy Industry a few years earlier.
“This allowed [our dairy] cooperative to divest its interests into areas other than dairy and through the foresight of then general manager, Laurie House, we identified the potential for a single malt whisky distillery,” explained general manager Mark Littler in an interview with The Alcohol Professor, which you should read if you want to learn more about Hellyers Road. (Fun tidbit, this article from 2013 was written by Alwynne Gwilt, now brand ambassador for The Balvenie).
Hellyers Road has quite an extensive range, but I happened upon a sample of the Hellyers Road 15 Years Slightly Peated. This single malt is a mixture of the distillery’s unpeated spirit and contains just a pinch of their peated malt. Being a fan of subtly peated whisky this sounds right up my alley. Oh, and maturation took place in ex-bourbon casks.
Hellyers Road 15 Years Slightly Peated (46.2%, OB, 2022)
Nose: Is this Bowmore? It’s not very coastal, but otherwise… Hints of liquorice and some gentle peat with ripe bananas and mirabelle plums. Also mango, papaya and plenty of citrus with soft mineral touches. Truly a fruit basket. Love this nose.
Taste: Mouthfeel could be a bit richer, yet the peat is more noticeable on the palate with ashes and some tar, but also tobacco leaves, honeydew, soft spices and guava. The ginger works well with the zestiness. And the cracked black pepper too.
Finish: The finish is maybe not as long as I would like, but follows along the same lines.