After seeing Billy Connolly at the Glasgow Armadillo in October, me and the boys ambled along to the Ben Nevis on Argyle St for a few drams. Despite being a pretty tight space, the Ben Nevis has one of the best whisky selections in the city, with a good balance between regular malts, limited edition expressions and the odd wee gem thrown in. So I was delighted, if not surprised, to spy a bottle of the award winning Sullivan’s Cove behind the bar.
Established in 1994, Sullivans Cove is current driving Australia’s booming whisky market. With a population of just over half a million, the southern island of Tasmania – most famous for its “animated” devils – boasts half of the country’s distilleries, with three more due to open in the next few years. Impressive stats, especially when you consider the fact that distilling on the island was still illegal right up until the early 1990s. Since then though, with a cool and damp climate which is more akin to Dundee than Darwin, the territory has become the ideal spot to make the perfect malt.
The Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask bottling was recently crowned the World’s Best Single Malt in the World Whisky Awards – the first time that a whisky from somewhere other than Scotland or Japan has won the prestigious award. So with this sort of backing, I was happy – if a little nervous – to shell out £10.90 (!) on 35ml of the golden nectar.
The malt, which varies in age from 12 to 14 years old, is made in small batches, with each cask bottled individually to capture the subtle variances which exist in each batch. The dram is reminiscent of clootie dumpling, with rich notes of toffee, molasses and dried fruits, on both the nose and palate. There’s also an overriding presence of dark chocolate as it snakes across the mouth. And the finish just goes on and on and on, sinking right down into your core.
The distillery has been forced to limit sales of its malt, to ensure continued availability for the next five years, so you’ll struggle to find it in retail stores. However, if you see a bottle of it lurking in a bar when you are out this weekend, be sure to give it a try – you’ll not regret it!