Sullivans Cove Debuts An Extremely Rare 21 Year Old Australian Single Malt Whisky - The Whiskey Wash
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Sullivans Cove Debuts An Extremely Rare 21 Year Old Australian Single Malt Whisky

By Nino Marchetti / October 15, 2019

Sullivans Cove is considered one of the oldest Australian distilleries in modern times, and this year the distillery team there is celebrating 25 years of producing whisky. As part of this celebration it will be selling later this month a special 21 year old Australian single malt bottling, said to be drawn from lost casks early to the distillery’s history and noted for being “the oldest ever official distillery release of Australian single malt whisky.”

The new Sullivans Cove 25th Anniversary Special Edition, according to those behind it, was drawn from just 4 casks, a very small lot of 162 total casks of whisky produced by the founders of the distillery between 1994 and 1999. These 4 casks, 200-litre American Oak ex-bourbon casks, were described as having been found in a warehouse in Hobart, Australia. They apparently had been sold to private owners in the very early years of the distillery, but it is not clear what happened thereafter.

Fast forward to now, and given “the incredibly advanced age and resulting low volume of these casks, the small amount of remaining whisky in each was married together to create this special release, yielding a total of only around 500 bottles at 49.6% ABV.” The rare whisky is presented in “a crystal decanter by Glencairn, and the label design reflects the packaging of Sullivans Cove’s first release of Tasmanian single malt from the late 1990s.”

Sullivans Cove 25th Anniversary Special Edition

Sullivans Cove 25th Anniversary Special Edition (image via Sullivans Cove)

“As one of the longest running craft single malt whisky distilleries in Australia,” said Sullivans Cove Managing Director Adam Sable in a prepared statement, “we’re very excited to be able to release a whisky of this age as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations. Previously, we’ve released whiskies up to 18 years of age, but we didn’t think there was anything left from the whiskies distilled prior to 1999. When we found these casks, we were thrilled that they still had quality whisky inside. In the Australian climate, it’s very difficult to age whisky for this long without it all evaporating, so it’s a very special thing to be able to offer.”

Plans call for this whisky to be made available through the distillery only, including to members of its mailing list. The price is quite up there at $1,800 AUD, or around $1,215 USD. You’ll find some official tasting notes below for your consideration.

  • Nose:
    Sweet vanilla musk fills the nose and draws you in. Maltesers, cinnamon, anise, dried apple, roasting pineapple, musk and a strong mixed berry jam note with a balancing whiff of ethereal perfume.
  • Palate: 
    Intensely creamy and incredibly textural. Aloha! shouts the tropical fruit salad of pineapple, passionfruit and honeydew melon, served up with Chantilly cream, mixed berry jam, sweet pastry, vanilla custard, toffee and caramel fudge, all backed up by a deliciously warm barley grain note.
  • Finish:  
    “Long” doesn’t seem to do this justice. It’s fair to say epic. The warm grains are followed by all the sweet sugary things. Caramel, chocolate brownie, malt extract, custard, jam. And low and behold, in even these oldest of Sullivans’ whiskies, there is that quintessential fresh orange note, and it’s everywhere at the never-ending story of this whisky’s finish.