When you next pick up a bottle of our whisky, invert it or give it a little shake. If you are lucky enough you might see a hazy little cloud of something.
What you are seeing is what we call the 'essence' of the whisky. To be precise it is the naturally occurring oils and proteins that provide an enormous amount of the flavour, mouth-feel and the finish of a great whisky.
In a cask strength whisky these oils and proteins are in suspension in the liquid and you never see them but here’s the thing!
When water is added to alcohol a reaction takes place and this reaction can cause some of those proteins and oils to come out of suspension. This can create a cloudiness in the whisky or a little bit of fluffy material that sits on the bottom of the bottle and so these solids (now called flock) need to be removed.
Why do they need to be removed if they contribute so much to the whisky?
The answer is simply a marketing one. Removing them makes the product "look" better in the bottle.
Large overseas distilleries use a process called chill filtering to remove flock. This process can remove a large percentage of the whisky's flavour and colour and it is not a process we follow.
We leave the diluted whisky in settling containers for as long as it takes for the heaviest components to settle to the bottom. This process that can take anything from several weeks to some months and any bump or shake will stir up the flock and if that happens we have to start the settling process all over again.
When the settling process has finished we (very, very carefully) syphon the whisky from above the flock.
This sort of natural settling process does not remove all those oils and proteins and that means we keep more of the mouth-feel, colour and flavour that existed when the whisky came out of the cask.
So you have this fluffy cloud-like flavour-ball that is perfectly natural and is meant to be in whisky. If you simply give the bottle a shake the flock will dissolve back into the whisky and return the flavour and texture that existed in the whisky originally.
In every distillery there is a special feeling about the first cask to be filled. It was no different at Nonesuch Distillery.
We knew that the making of the whisky and filling Cask number 1 would result in really special memories for us.
It was indisputable that the whisky had to meet the high quality that we set for ourselves and, in addition to that, the whisky had to be be something extraordinary and distinctive.
After a lot of debate and even more research the decision was made to create a spirit from a Bourbon recipe passed to us by none other than the godfather of Australian distilling, Bill Lark.
Of course we knew this whisky would not be able to be called Bourbon as that is a trade protected term and cannot be used unless the whisky is made in the United States.
We decided to concentrate on making the best "bourbon-like" whisky possible and to worry about what to call it later.
Producing this whisky (that would be the first of its type created in Tasmania) required a grain mix of corn, malted barley and rye.
To our frustration, we soon discovered that when using a high ratio of corn (our recipe required 72% corn), the mash process required equipment that was more specialised than we had in our little distillery.
That threatened to derail our plan. But just down the road was the amazing craft beer producer Double Head Brewing owned and operated by the talented Ty and Amanda Capaci.
As a modern brewery Double Head Brewing had just the equipment needed and, as happens in our wonderful community, they came to our rescue.
Ty and Amanda changed their own production schedule and they brewed and fermented a wash for us using our grain recipe.
It is not overstating the case to say this whisky would not have seen the light of day without Ty and Amanda.
This is the only time Nonesuch has not produced its own wash and, due to the loss of Ty and the subsequent closure of Double Head, this particular whisky cannot and will not ever be reproduced.
So, back to the question "what would we call this whisky style in Australia?"
Bill did suggest "Burdon Whisky" (say it quickly and it sounds close to that protected name) but eventually we decided on the more descriptive name "Nonesuch Single Grain".
Single refers to whisky from a single distillery and Grain refers to the use of a mix of cereal grains.
We distilled this whisky in a traditional batch process in our bespoke copper pot still in the same way we produce Nonesuch Single Malt Whisky. This process resulted in a whisky filled with character and flavour.
Our distillation process was different that used to make grain whiskies in Scotland where they are predominantly produced on an industrial scale in continuous column stills and are most often subsequently blended
The Cask 1 Whisky is -
All our whiskies are special in some way to us here at Nonesuch. There is usually a memory associated with each one. Maybe that memory is about distilling the spirit with a great guest or a memory of a joke shared during the mash-in. Sometimes it is a memory of what was happening somewhere in the world as we distilled or of something taking place outside the distillery on Rayburn Farm.
Memories of the talented Ty and the big-heartedness of him and Amanda, the fact that this was our first cask and that it tastes amazing makes this whisky really special to us.
Now we have to convince our founder, Rex, to release it and not consign it all to his own personal stock.
Keep an eye on the Nonesuch newsletter for updates. We trust you will bear with us as we work on Rex and also work out the fairest way of releasing what is a very distinctive and very special batch of Nonesuch Whisky.
When contemplating what drink to serve with a wonderful cheese platter we tend to almost naturally turn our thoughts to Port.
But if you want to really impress your guests and take them out of their comfort zone, try serving a Nonesuch Sloe Gin or Sloe Malt instead.
The different cheeses bring out the botanicals and flavour notes in the Sloe Gin and Sloe Malt. These either contrast with, or complement, the different characteristics of the cheese and that makes for intriguing partnerships.
Sloe Gin with Stilton is probably my favourite pairing. The mouth filling richness of Sloe Gin works superbly with this cheese. The Sloe Gin has much the same rich flavour as a Vintage Port but, despite being stronger, manages to taste lighter and fresher.
Goats Cheese brings out an herbaceous note in our Sloe Gin, or does the Sloe Gin bring out an herbaceous note in these cheeses? Either way, this is a great marriage.
The saltiness and pungent aroma of Blue cheeses needs to be offset with a contrasting note of slight sweetness. Our unique, handcrafted Sloe Malt is the real winner for achieving that. It is one of the spirit’s secrets – it goes phenomenally well with cheese.
With really strong blue cheeses, especially Roquefort, you could also consider a Tasmanian Single Malt Whisky. (Tip: Keep an eye out later in 2016 for the first release single malt from Fannys Bay Distillery)
Given the nut flavours and earthiness they take on as they age, cheeses such as Camembert and Brie stand up well to the sloe gin’s fruit-filled bouquet and it’s plum/cherry notes on the palate.
If you are serving this style of cheese singularly, you will find it superb accompanied by our Dry Gin simply splashed on ice and garnished with sliced red grapes.
Order now and add some "wow" to your next cheese platter.