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words by niall roeder
Whisky: the brown elixir of the barrelled gods, loved and scorned by many brings to mind images of rich mahogany, old wooden ships and Ron Burgundy-esque gentlemen. If you drink whisky, you love whisky, and if you love whisky, you’re always on the hunt for a new drop.
From your commercial Johnnie Walker types to the craft tipple fermented in old bathtubs on blustery Scottish isles, there are a million and one different whiskies out there. We spoke to the resident whisky hound at Hippopotamus, Alex Grumball, and squeezed three neat recommendations out of him.
We look at three of the finest whiskies going around.
Tomatin 1995 – Oloroso Sherry
This limited edition Scottish Highland whisky was distilled in June, 1995. It was sitting, waiting and wishing in traditional Scotch Whisky oak casks for 18 years before being transferred to Oloroso Sherry hogsheads (big casks) in 2013, and then bottled in 2016. Aged for 21 years in total, there are only 1912 bottles made available of this old fella.
Tastes like: Heavy dried fruits, rich sherry, honeyed oak spice, dark chocolate, and creates an almost waxy mouth feel.
Alex says – “this whisky is significant for not only its prestige coming from the Tomatin distillery, its age, or its doublewood, but also for its spot in the top 10 Whiskey Fringe Awards ranking the year of its release, beating 400 other releases to take a spot.”
This hallowed juice was released during Feis Ile 2015 (the Islay Single Malt Festival) by one of the island’s oldest distilleries to celebrate its 200th birthday. Perpetuum is a blend of both young and extremely old whiskies, matured in both bourbon and sherry casks.
Tastes like: Aromas of tar, soot and pine resin leads to dark chocolate and toffee, while robust peat smoke and smokey bacon greet the tongue. Ground coffee and citrus carries the palate forward until gentle earthy, ashen flavours finish up.
Alex says – “an extremely special release for Hippopotamus and paving the way for 2017’s Kelpie release, which I’ll be bringing back with me from the distillery itself in June before it reaches NZ shores.”
Moving away from the traditional whisky peddlers and to the local kid doesn’t care for whisky’s ancestral guidelines – Oamaruvian 16. 200 barrels of ex-Dunedin distilled whiskey were carefully selected for Oamaruvian 16, before being transferred into ex-red wine barrels and rested in the seaside Oamaruvian climate for the next 10 years.
Tastes like: Rich, layered and bold with creamy mouthfeel, dark fruit flavours and South Island sea spray finish.
Alex says – “typically double wooded whisky is only finished in its second cask, taking on notes from the new wood that complement the initial oak of its first ex-bourbon barrel. This home-grown hooch spends ten years of its sixteen year ageing process in French oak, ex-red wine barrels, instead.”
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