Tasmanian Distiller Sullivans Cove Unveils Oldest Whiskies To Date

By Katelyn Best / February 4, 2019

Sullivans Cove Distillery, a Tasmanian producer of malt whiskies whose French Oak single malt was named World’s Best Malt Whisky by Whisky Magazine back in 2014, has released the first two expressions from a range they’re calling the “oldest and rarest” not just of their whiskies, but from any Australian distillery.

The distillery is now placing the “Old & Rare” designation on whiskies aged for sixteen years or more. “The vast majority of our whiskies reach their peak at around 10-12 years,” the distillery announced in a press release, “but every once in a while, our skilled distillers identify a cask with the specific characteristics that allow for extended maturation.” According to the announcement, Sullivans Cove is the only Australian distillery “that has been consistently using full-sized casks for over 20 years.”

Sullivan Cove Old & Rare

Sullivans Cove’s new Old & Rare range (image via Sullivans Cove)

The first two expressions with this label are a 17-year-old American oak-aged single malt, and a 16-year-old French oak-aged single malt. Both whiskies are labeled with their barrel numbers, HH0317 and HH0520, respectively. “It’s a great feeling to see some of the earliest spirit we distilled and barrelled [sic] mature into the whiskies they are now today. Finally, being able to bottle them is like seeing your first born graduate from uni,” said head distiller Patrick Maguire in a prepared statement.

The American oak-aged expression was aged in a 200-liter ex-bourbon cask for 17 years, and is said to be “very similar in age and style to the world-beating HH0351, which won Best Single Cask Single Malt in the World at the 2018 World Whiskies Awards.” The French oak-aged whisky matured in a 300-liter French oak ex-tawny cask for 16 years, was bottled at 47.5% ABV, and is limited to 169 bottles.

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The distillery’s tasting notes for each whisky are below:

French Oak Single Cask HH0520

Nose: The darkest of all treacle and polished French oak furniture being warmed by a fire. Quality unlit cigars, prunes, molasses, cola and cherry jam.

Palate: Cherry cola, raisins, rosemary, dark chocolate, nutmeg, fine leather, candied orange peel and buttery shortbread.

Finish: An astoundingly thick texture that coats the palate completely and carries the dense brandied cherry flavour. Herbal, floral, prune and chocolate notes linger for many minutes.

 American Oak Single Cask HH0317

Nose: An enticingly floral vanilla musk with creaming soda, marshmallows, toffee apple and hints of warm clove backed up by perfumed oak.

Palate: Incredibly rich and creamy with sweet blood oranges, ripe red apples, vanilla custard pastries, and orange marmalade. Smooth, warm, and very fine tannins balance perfectly with the sweet citrus profile.

Finish: Nutty caramel fudge, with floral tones, pastry, oranges and custard.

Each bottle is packaged in an attractive wood box and comes with a letter of authenticity signed by Maguire and production manager Heather Tillott.