This is a bit of an interesting whisky, from New Zealand actually. It was distilled at Willowbank Distillery, once the southernmost distillery in the world. It closed its doors in 2000. The release I review today is called The Oamaruvian because after the distillery closed, most of the casks matured in Oamaru, a seaside town.
How did those casks came to be there? Well, read this blurp from the website of The New Zealand Whisky Company (which means I’m too lazy to write myself).
New Zealand whisky evangelists and winemakers Warren and Deb Preston identified Oamaru’s historic Harbour Precinct as an ideal seaside climate for whisky maturation. Next, they did something profound. They decanted over 200 barrels of Dunedin distilled single grain whisky out of American bourbon barrels and into French oak NZ wine barrels. The Dunedin DoubleWood was born. Eight years on, The New Zealand Whisky Collection is proud to present The Oamaruvian.
So that’s it. The Oamaruvian is a collection of single cask whiskies, all of them distilled at Willowbank. According to The New Zealand Whisky Company, they are 70 percent malt whisky and 30 percent grain whisky. They’ve received a second maturation in red wine casks from New Zealand, for up to ten years! How much is left of the actual spirit, and how much influence does the wine cask have on the taste? Let’s find out.
The Oamaruvian 16 Years Old DoubleWood (57,7%, OB, C# 569)
Nose: This does not hide its grain origins, as there is plenty of glue. Big on the wood varnish and resin. But the red wine is extremely intense too. This is the opposite of subtle. Sour cherries, prunes, and balsamic. Finally some notes of dark chocolate. Taste: Big and bold. Raspberry jam, strawberries, dark chocolate. Somewhat bitter and drying. Lots of spices too. Cloves, cracked peppercorns, cardamom. Finish: Dry, spicy and hints of red fruit.
In a way, this isn’t too dissimilar from the Longrow Red releases (minus the peat of course), but probably more intense and less balanced. My god, what an attack on the taste buds. The cask dominates the spirit in an unprecedented way, that’s why I don’t score it very high. But I bet there are people that go absolutely apeshit for this type of intense experience. Think of a red wine matured equivalent of a Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask, but more extreme.